Every once in a while I'll wander over to salon.com just to see what's happening on the other side of things. Yesterday I found an interesting article on Curves - the gym for women - and its owners alleged donation of millions of dollars to "militant anti-abortion" groups. The article was prompted by the confusion over inaccuracies in two original reports in the San Francisco Chronicle by Jon Carroll and Ruth Rosen that stated Curves owner Gary Heavin had given $5 million to these "militant" groups (on a side note, I enjoy the subtle use of militant - the same word used to describe the people who murdered Nick Berg - to paint a very specific picture of any group that protests the murder of an unborn child). Read the article (you'll have to watch a quick commercial to gain access) to see exactly how convoluted & shoddy the reporting really was.
I was not too surprised by the article, but what really caught my eye was something I read today. Let me counterpose a few quotes from the article and what I read today:
"It looked as though the charges against Heavin were not as distressing as they had appeared: He had given his own private money to anti-abortion groups, but not the kind that picket and hold bloody fetus posters or encourage violence. Some would argue that for pro-choice activists, these kinds of institutions are even more invidious, since they are more rational and try to take the place of groups like Planned Parenthood...
(So holding a picture of the actual results of an abortion, ie, a bloody fetus is "militant"? I mean, what kind of "militant" whack-jobs would want to see the true results of an abortion?)
"Then there was the fear that pro-life activists, who had surely heard the call of a fellow traveler running a business they could support, would join the gym."
(This one actually made me laugh - as if pro-lifers would somehow contaminate the gym? And, like there aren't some pro-life women who are already members of Curves?)
"As for the Care Net Pregnancy Crisis Center, Smallwood [a representative of Planned Parenthood] said, 'Although we don't agree certainly on abortion, they do not participate in demonstrations against our organization, as some other groups do.'"
Now compare that attitude with this:
"The climax of [Celsus'] work was that the duty of a good citizen was loyalty to the common beliefs, deviation from which would impair the safety of the civilized world." - WHC Frend The Early Church
For those more involved in the abortion debate, I'm sure the controversy comes as no surprise. But what startled me was the parallel between Celsus' (an early anti-Christian author) argument and that of the attitude of those who were outraged that someone would actually give money to a pro-life group. It is a very short hop from stating "your beliefs are bad, don't let them affect your actions" to "your beliefs are bad, change them/act contrary to them." Celsus argued, as did many of his pagan contemporaries, that Christianity was bad because, in summary, it ticked off the gods who got very upset when minority groups didn't follow the rules. Christians wouldn't sacrifice or swear by the genius of the emperor and risked bringing down the wrath of the gods. Hence, they were a danger. I know this has been demonstrated repeatedly by other writers, but note the same attitude the pro-abortion position holds in this particular controversy. Though the initial reporting was inaccurate, any description of a group as militant, particularly in the current geopolitical environment, raises the specter of fundamentalist violence. Anti-abortion groups that have the audacity to demonstrate against abortion are militant, ie, a threat to peace & stability. But, even after the correction to the original article was made, it became clear that Heavin's donation to an organization that did not perform abortions and instead counseled womeon on adoption was also outside the pale. Though this group could not be described as "militant", it is actually worse because it is "rational." In fact, it is invidious (I admit, I had to look it up); it is discriminatory and rouses ill-will. In short, any pro-life group, whether militant or rational "impairs the safety of the civilized world" and supporting these groups is a crime because it violates the basic assumptions of our society, specifically, that religion is a mere preference and acting on those beliefs to try to influence my decision is wrong.
The earliest Christians faced their persecution and refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods. Thank God there are still Christians of that mettle today.