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Evangelical fingerprints all over abortion bills

By Hannah McLeod • Guest Columnist

Living outside the United States makes it easier to ignore the day-to-day whirlwind of political and social bull that pervades our society. The back and forth, the focus on optics instead of outcome, the now-faster-than-24-hour news cycle. My days here in Costa Rica are centered around making sure everyone gets fed, that the house runs smoothly, and whether or not there is good surf. Presence is a must. 

So when the news filtered in about the Alabama abortion bill, I was shocked (not really surprised, it is the U.S. after all) and dismayed, it was close to dinner time and I had more pressing matters to consider. But slowly it did settle in. The fact that yet again a group of old white men could decide what thousands of American women could do with their bodies.  

The bill is outright disgusting and illogical, not even permitting exemptions for rape or incest. It is now true that a woman who gets an abortion in Alabama after being raped could serve a longer prison sentence than the man who raped her. If anyone wonders why so many young people tend to attack the older generation, especially old, white, wealthy men, this is your answer. Again and again they have proven themselves to be wildly out of touch with American society and more likely to bend to the wishes of those who line their pockets than the people they are supposed to represent.

This is also very obviously the work of evangelical Christians. With their large swaths of money to finance candidates around the country, and their self-righteous belief that they can impress their ideals on everyone in our society, evangelical Christians have destroyed the political landscape of the United States. They took the words “in God we trust” and used them as a weapon to ensure that everyone is this nation adheres to their antiquated and narrow-minded ideals of how a person should be, who a person should be, and what a person can do. Unfortunately the brunt of this burden falls on females, minorities and the poor.  

Even those wealthy conservatives without particularly strong Christian beliefs can usually get behind these sorts of bills because they help to keep poor folks where they are. Difficult access to expensive healthcare means young people can’t always get the birth control options they need, only perpetuating the cycle of poverty with early, unwanted pregnancies. In turn those people on top stay on top, making millions off the working class. 

It is the coalition of conservative evangelical Christians who put Trump in power and continue to prop him up, despite the outwardly horrible person he is, in return for the conservative judges they get appointed to lifetime positions around the country. It is a dangerous bargain that they are willing to accept. 

So yes, we should be angry at the old wealthy men making decisions about young women’s bodies. But it is of equal importance to understand who it is putting them in power, where their base comes from. 

It is a particular kind of evil to think that you can control the bodies, beliefs or actions of other people when they are not causing you direct harm. In a “free” country like ours people should have the right to choose how they live their life. If you don’t like abortion, don’t get an abortion, if you don’t like gay marriage don’t marry someone the same sex as you, if you don’t want a gun don’t buy one (though the system of legality needs serious updating), if you don’t like transgender people, don’t change your gender, etc. 

But everyone should be free to choose, so why try and tell someone else what they can do with their body? Just because your god or your book tells you something is wrong does not mean that the people around you believe the same, that they have the same needs or priorities. 

Evangelism is something we should have left behind years ago as a society, especially the sneaky, forceful kind of American evangelical Christians. Unfortunately it is still alive and rampant and is causing physical harm to millions of people in this country. It is time to live up to the bare minimum of the label of our country and grant people the basic freedoms which are their right, uninhibited by the religious beliefs of one wealthy group. 

(Hannah McLeod is from Waynesville and is a graduate of Appalachian State University currently living in Costa Rica. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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