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A Discussion of Abortion Rights, Religious Fundamentalism and More

Commentary by Greg Lewis /
January 28, 2003

Among the things that pro-choice/pro-abortion advocates often cite as evidence of the violent, right-wing "nature" of those who are anti-abortion and pro-life is the fact that supporters and practitioners of abortion have been killed for their beliefs. With this as a key focus, pro-abortionists invariably go on to equate opposition to abortion with Christian fundamentalism, the implication being that somehow all Christian "fundamentalists" share in the guilt of the few who have committed physical crimes against those who favor abortion.

Not surprisingly, pro-abortionists also almost universally support such concepts as "diversity" and "multiculturalism" as being inherently desirable, as strengthening American society. These issues are interrelated in many ways, and a discussion of them will help to shed light on the divisive nature of the liberal-conservative conflict in American politics today.

Now I agree that the killing of pro-abortionists by anti-abortionists is not to be tolerated under any circumstances. I also observe, however, that the killing of pro-abortionists by anti-abortionists almost never happens, despite the tremendous heat and passion generated on both sides of the abortion issue. Further, the import of such infrequent deaths pales in comparison to the more than 40 million lives (in the form of aborted "unborn" children) that have been terminated as a result of the practice of abortion since its legalization in the United States 30 years ago. And, to carry the discussion of religious fundamentalism a step further, the number of pro-abortionists killed by anti-abortionists also pales in comparison to the death and destruction perpetrated by other (primarily Islamist) religious fundamentalists against their enemies, not to say their own people.

To be more specific about Christian fundamentalism: While, for instance, Pat Robertson's views may not be to everyone's taste, he is, to his credit, not engaged in armed conflict with his enemies. Nor does he advocate taking the lives of unborn children. And to touch on another issue, evolution, that is closely associated with "fundamentalism," an issue that pro-abortionists trot out to support their claims that Christian fundamentalists are an ignorant lot: While I don't know Pat Robertson's position on evolution, I can tell you without hesitation that there's not an Islamic fundamentalist on the planet who would so much as give the theory of evolution the time of day. Anything which admits of the possibility that Jews and other infidels are not the progeny of pigs and monkeys is anathema to Islamists. To millions of Islamists, for that matter. And if you think the fact that creationism is being taught to thousands of fundamentalist Christian children in America is a serious problem, then how much more serious is the teaching of an immeasurably more virulent and debasing fundamentalist theology to millions of Muslim children around the world?

With a few possible (though I can't think of any) exceptions, Christians do not today provoke armed conflict in order to perpetuate their beliefs or to force those beliefs, upon pain of death, on others. Christianity is no longer a tribal religion, nor is it an imperialist religion. Islam is, in significant measure, both. Christianity's message is spread almost exclusively through peaceful missionary work. And in part because it has virtually always been forced to maintain an existence apart from the governments of societies in which it has flourished, Christianity has ultimately managed (although not without sometimes horrifying conflict) to co-exist with and be enriched and changed by western science. Christianity (along with Judaism) is the religion which has best been able to adapt to the liberal humanist ideal that has evolved over the past several hundred years in the west. Indeed, western liberal humanism is informed to a significant degree by the precepts of Christianity.

Christianity has come through its imperialist phase; Islam has not. Unfortunately, hundreds of millions of Muslims who purportedly do not share the fundamentalists' bloodlust for imposing their religious beliefs on infidels have, it would appear, been cowed into meek silence in the wake of the threat by fundamentalists of fatwa against them should they dare to give voice to ideas of religious and social moderation. In the absence of such moderating voices, the name "Islam" has come to represent, in the minds of a majority of Americans, a barbaric religion, a religion which condones such horrible and psychically debilitating practices as the genital mutilation of young girls; a religion which does not hesitate to invoke the death penalty for those perceived to be violating or speaking out against its doctrines and practices; a religion whose adherents often unhesitatingly send their children to their deaths for the purpose of killing "infidels"; a religion which, through the totalitarian governments ruling in its name, has aided and abetted the historically unprecedented degeneration of millions of its subjects into a condition of abject poverty and hopelessness.

Are we expected to give credence to this version of Islam, which today dominates the public debate in print and broadcast media? Are we being asked, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, to believe that Islam is a "religion of peace?" That is to say, Are we being asked to somehow justify welcoming a sect that is today defined by religious terrorism into our midst in the name of some flimsy and indefensible concept called multiculturalism?

If this is what multiculturalism is all about, count me out. If multiculturalism is about ignoring the evidence of the senses and the intellect and the spirit and marching our families and our fellow citizens into the path of what amounts to an oncoming army of zealots who would eliminate us from the planet if they could, I'm not having any. And if multiculturalism would denigrate a religion such as Christianity that preaches peace and the sanctity of life and brotherhood among all humans, and instead promote Islam -- which, to judge by its contemporary public face, stands for oppression, violence, brutality, and intolerance -- then, thanks for inviting me, but I'll just see myself to the door.

I much prefer to remain enmired in my provinciality, one of those unenlightened souls who would rather associate with and give support to people (regardless of their ethnic, religious, or cultural backgrounds) who believe in the freedom of all men and women to practice the religion of their choice and to follow the dictates of their hearts and minds and consciences as they create and nurture life-affirming enterprises. All of this, mind you, while they live in peace and harmony with their neighbors. That, forgive me, is my idea of multiculturalism.

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