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Tag: Roe v Wade

After Roe v. Wade….Title IX?

title ix

A Guest Post by MJ Lisbeth

In a cruel irony, the US Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade on 24 June 2022; one day after the 50th anniversary of Title IX becoming enshrined in American law.

Roe v Wade, which guaranteed the right to an abortion, and Title IX, which mandated equal funding for male and female students in educational institutions that receive Federal funding (just about all of them, including the priciest private universities) have long been linked in my mind. For one thing, a very different Supreme Court decided Roe v Wade only seven months after then-President Richard M. Nixon signed Title IX into law. But, even more importantly, one helped to make the other, if not possible, then at least practicable.

I am not a legal or constitutional scholar or even, for that matter, particularly knowledgeable about the history of women’s rights or equality. So, take what I am about to say for what it’s worth:  While Title IX opened opportunities for girls and women their mothers could only have imagined, Roe v Wade, if indirectly, made it possible for them to take advantage of—or, at least, not to lose—many of those new-found opportunities.

To be sure, there is still nothing like gender equality in most areas of American society.  Most educational institutions aren’t even in compliance with Title IX. Still, today’s young women can—at least, they have been able—to not only aspire to what their elder sisters, mothers, and aunts have achieved, but so much more. In the most visible manifestation of Title IX, ten times as many girls and women participate in school and college athletics as participated at the time the law passed. That, of course, has led to more women, pursuing careers, not only in sports, but also in other previously male-only or male-dominated fields: as a result of Title IX, medical, law, and other graduate schools, and undergraduate programs like engineering, could not continue their quotas or bans on female students—which were imposed with the rationale that women would “get married and drop out of the workforce” and the education and training were therefore “wasted.”

But many women would not have been able to take advantage of those new opportunities if they could not regulate when they became pregnant and gave birth—or, for that matter, choose whether they wanted to become mothers at all. Before Title IX, schools and colleges often dismissed students who became pregnant. Even after the law passed, many employers fired pregnant employees or shunted them to “mommy tracks.” While Title IX could not affect this practice, it probably led, if indirectly, to laws against it. And access to safe and legal abortions—a legacy of Roe v Wade—made it possible for many women, not only to stay in school and jobs, but also to determine the trajectory of their careers.

Just as Title IX has had secondary effects, so did Roe v Wade. You’ve probably seen the slogan, “Abortion is women’s health care.” It’s true in more ways than one. Of course, an abortion is sometimes necessary to save the life of the woman or to prevent disabling or destabilizing conditions from worsening. But not for nothing are Planned Parenthood centers the go-to places for other kinds of women’s health care. In some areas, it is the only provider of such services for several counties. More to the point, though, is a reason why PP centers perform procedures and treatments that are now routine for girls and women but were rarities or privileges, if they were available at all, to their mothers and grandmothers. 

While there is still much room for improvement in women’s health care, and it’s still nowhere near the standards of care for men, it can be argued that the availability—and, in some circles, acceptability—of abortion has led to vast improvements. Much of that has to do with an attitude engendered by the availability and acceptance of abortion.  Until the modern feminist movement, which sparked the fight that led to Roe v Wade, women’s bodies were seen mainly as incubators. In other words, a woman’s health was seen mainly in terms of her fitness for bearing and rearing children. (That meant, of course, that women’s mental health care was all but non-existent or women were actively pathologized.) In part because women could now choose when or whether they would become pregnant, they could exercise other choices—and insist that they were, as sentient individuals, as worthy of high-quality health care, for their own needs and their own quality of life, as men. As women could get better care and take better care of themselves, they were better able to pursue their dreams and goals. To me, this change was analogous to, and as revolutionary as, the Renaissance idea that the human body is beautiful and intrinsically worthy of aesthetic or scientific study.

Such an ethos is anathema to religious conservatives, who led the fight to seat the judges who voted to overturn Roe v Wade. So is the freedom to make choices, whether in one’s career or life. If the history of slavery has taught us anything, it’s that if laws or decrees limit people’s agency over their own bodies and their freedom of movement, it doesn’t matter whether or not they have any other rights. The Taliban have certainly learned that lesson well: They didn’t have to bar girls and women from school or jobs; they only had to mandate cumbersome clothing and forbid them from going any place they might want to go without the permission or accompaniment of a male relative in order to reverse the gains in education and work they made in the previous two decades. Likewise, passing similar laws in Saudi Arabia, and forbidding women from riding bicycles or driving cars, left that country’s females at the mercy of their fathers’, brothers’, and other male relatives’ caprices. Such restrictions also make it more difficult, if impossible, for women and girls to get the healthcare they need: Sometimes men think women don’t really need such care, or they are unwilling to bring their sisters and wives to male doctors, the absence of female doctors notwithstanding.

One particularly disturbing aspect of the reversal of Roe v Wade is that some states, if they haven’t done so, will ban abortions even in cases of incest and rape. Why do I, as a transgender woman (who will never become pregnant), care about that or, for that matter, about abortion law in general? I was sexually abused as a child, by a priest and a family friend. I can’t help but to wonder how my life might be different if the nine-year-old boy who experienced the abuse had been a thirteen-year-old girl. Imagine how that could have constricted her choices, and how it could have affected her life in other ways, if such an experience could shatter the reality—not to mention the career and family—of a thirty-year-old woman.

Because, as I said previously, I am not a legal or constitutional scholar, I can’t say whether overturning Roe v. Wade will lead to the evisceration or repeal of Title IX. But it’s hard not to imagine that the repeal of Roe v Wade could lead to many girls and young women not taking advantage of, and furthering, the opportunities Title IX afforded their mothers. White Evangelical Christians—who are to the Republican Party as African Americans have been to the Democratic Party —could hardly have hoped for more.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Quote of the Day: Guns Now Have More Rights Than Women in Ohio

Wade Kapszukiewicz

We now live in a state where guns have more rights than women. Ohio doesn’t trust women to make smart decisions about their own bodies, but yet it does trust 18-year-olds to make smart decisions about their AR-15s. This is both hypocritical and unacceptable.

— Wade Kapszukiewicz, mayor of Toledo, Ohio, ABC-13

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Quote of the Day: Anti-Abortion, Forced Birth Zealots Are Gaslighting the American People

gaslighting

So when men—because it’s pretty much always men—lecture you about what red-state legislatures—which are pretty much always controlled by men—are not going to do when Dobbs comes down, it’s most likely because they believe you to be either stupid or fundamentally powerless or possibly both.

This is all called gaslighting, and it’s a tactic of bullies, thugs, and authoritarians everywhere. The same Wall Street Journal opinion page that promised on July 2, 2018, that the court wouldn’t overturn Roe is now actively trying to cudgel the court into overturning Roe. Spectacularly stupid men gloat about the end of women’s freedom and then turn around and deride women as hysterical for worrying publicly about their freedom. Gaslighting is very much the point. When people in power tell you the precise thing you are witnessing isn’t happening before your eyes, it is done with a purpose. They are confident that if you let yourself be mollified by all the soothing talk about how, sure, you may feel (incorrectly, they will add) like they misled you at their confirmation hearings, but they are emphatically not misleading you now, then they can amass more power and more credibility to do more freedom-restrictive things with impunity in the future.

Whenever you’re being told by powerful people who don’t know anything—and don’t much care—about health, poverty, inequality, or how reproduction happens, that the thing that is currently happening isn’t actually happening, the important thing to do is not to argue with them. You are irrelevant to them, and traveling back to the Middle Ages with them in order to debate them on whether you are in fact a witch serves no useful purpose. Nor should you allow yourself to be distracted by fatuous comparisons between a Supreme Court leak and the events of Jan. 6, 2021. The latter was a coup attempt. The former was a systems failure of an institution that largely operates without systems. When actual Supreme Court justices tell you that they cannot plausibly discern the economic implications of an abortion ban because it’s never been empirically studied, that is also gaslighting. It’s been studied.

These sorts of distractions are another weapon of bullies who want to keep you from doing your work. Don’t be distracted. If the constituencies that have organized to end legal abortion for largely religious reasons for 50 years are telling you this has nothing to do with religion or abortion, you are being gaslit. When you are being told that women aren’t going to be harmed and that no other liberty interests are implicated and that fetal personhood is not connected to any of this, and that all these claims are somehow a certainty because polling, or because voting power, well, gaslit. But please understand that if you are being drawn into unknowable speculation about who the leaker is, or what precedents still survive post-Dobbs, or whether the Republican Party would in fact push for a federal ban, you are being distracted from Dobbs and its immediate and certain harms, which is not a luxury for which you have time.

Gaslighters thrive on calling you hysterical and emotional. They’ve been calling women hysterical and emotional for centuries. Sometimes with lethal consequences. (See witches, above.) Don’t bother performing sober fact-based disputation with a gaslighter. He thought you were hysterical when you told him in 2018 that Brett Kavanaugh would do what Brett Kavanaugh actually is now planning to do in 2022. He told you that you were hysterical when the Supreme Court allowed S.B. 8 to go into effect in September and he said so again when Dobbs was argued in December. He says you are hysterical now, and when morning-after pills, IUDs, and IVF are regulated and monitored and imperiled, he will tell you again that you’re still hysterical. That—and the reaction he hopes it will generate—is all he has. It’s your choice about whether or not to give it to him.

— Dahlia Lithwick, Slate, The People Who Promised Roe Was Safe Are Already Selling Their Next Bridge, May 16, 2022

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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The Leak: A Spin of Bishop’s Roulette?

guest post

— Guest Post by MJ Lisbeth

A few days ago, I wrote “Bishop’s Roulette.” Since then, the draft of Supreme Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion on striking down Roe v. Wade has been leaked. 

To many — actually, the majority — of us, the “leak” was like the first bomb dropped in an attack that “everybody knew” was coming. The particular blow surprised us simply because, like the first shot of a war, nobody can anticipate the moment it comes, even if its aftermath is what everyone expects.

As I am neither a political scientist nor reporter, I can’t add much to the analysis that the end of Roe v. Wade wouldn’t be the “will of the people.” More than one poll has shown that the overwhelming majority of people support the right to safe and legal abortion. That we now have a Supreme Court “packed” with Justices who seek to do the opposite of what most Americans want is a result of a political system that has allowed vocal, virulent, and often violent groups of people who claim to be motivated by faith to gain majorities in state legislatures and governorships — and may usher them into a Congressional majority later this year.

The same folks who organized to elect lawmakers who enacted laws outlawing abortion even in cases of rape and incest, and deputized citizens to sue anyone who received, performed, or “enabled” a procedure also voted for Donald Trump, who promised exactly what’s come to pass, and may regain the Presidency in two years.

While some of those voters didn’t disguise the fact that their support of Trump and his political allies was borne from their hatred of liberals, gays, immigrants, and anyone else whom they don’t see as fitting into their notions of a White, Christian, and male-dominated nation, others couch their support in a system of faith that, they believe, tells them to love their neighbors as they love themselves. Some, mainly men, among them claim to “respect women” because they are mothers, nurturers, and partners.

If they actually “respect” women, how can they support a President, Supreme Court justices, governors, state legislators, and mayors who are doing everything they can to ensure that women (and girls) don’t get vital medical care at the exact moment they need it.

You see, in striking down Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court would leave abortion rights to the states.  Some had already all but outlawed abortion before Justice Alito wrote his opinion; others have enacted “trigger laws” that will do the same, or ban it outright, once Roe v. Wade is struck down.  It’s hard not to believe, as some legal and political analysts have pointed out, that such moves will also enable states to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act and enact their own rules on the availability of health care. 

Think about it:  If a state can tell women what they can and can’t do with their bodies, can it also decide who does or doesn’t get health care, or what is or isn’t “appropriate” care for someone? Could it make such decisions on who is more “deserving” in a hierarchy that places people who are most likely to make “nuclear” families (i.e., straight cisgender) above, say, LGBTQ people? Or native-born citizens above immigrants, especially those who are here illegally? 

 I also can’t help but wonder whether striking down Roe v. Wade will give states more power to decide how health care and insurance are meted out. Given that concentrating power in fewer hands, especially if those hands are affluent White Christian cisgender males or their allies, all but inevitably leads to “privatization”— which often means nothing more than “getting government out of it” — it’s not hard to imagine more states in which people who need help are subject to a “Bishop’s Roulette.”

Now, even if you object to abortion on religious or other moral grounds, or simply think that the women who need them should have been “more careful,” here is something else to consider: prenatal care, and women’s healthcare in general, while far from perfect, have improved since Roe v. Wade. Some of that, of course, has come about because of medical and technological developments. Just as important, though, is the change in the way pregnancy and women’s bodies are seen. For one, doctors and other providers now better understand how pregnancy changes a woman’s body. Some of those changes, like high blood pressure, were previously linked to women’s pre-pregnancy lives and were not seen as consequences of pregnancy itself. Those conditions, and sometimes the pregnancy itself, can degrade the quality of, or even end, a woman’s life. 

Another reason, I believe, women’s health care has improved since Roe v. Wade is that as women gained more agency over their bodies and lives, they were seen — at least by some — as worthy of care for their own sake, and not simply to enhance their ability to bear and rear children. That development goes hand-in-hand with the separation of health care (and government) from religion, especially of the fundamentalist variety. 

In brief, Roe v. Wade did more to foster the respect for women than religious and other opponents of the decision claim to have.  Repealing it, as Justice Samuel Alito’s draft threatens, will do much to destroy that respect by degrading the quality of women’s health care and subjecting too many of us to some version of a “Bishop’s Roulette” to obtain it.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Sounds of Fundamentalism: Lori Alexander Has a Metaphorical Orgasm Over the Prospect of Overturning Roe v. Wade

lori and ken alexander

The Sounds of Fundamentalism is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of Lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife, giddily rejoicing over the prospect of the right-wing majority on the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. Evidently, Samuel Alito did for Lori what her husband, Ken, could never do. 🙂

Video Link

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

The ‘Raw Judicial Power’ of Samuel Alito Is an Attack on Dignity, Autonomy, and Progress

supreme court abortion
Cartoon by Mike Luckovich

Article by Jenny Breen, an Associate Professor of Law at the Syracuse University College of Law, where she teaches Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and Labor Law.

What is the end game here for the U.S. Supreme Court’s right-wing majority? It’s not pretty.

The leak of the U.S. Supreme Court’s draft opinion in the Mississippi abortion ban case has put into authenticated form an announcement that abortion advocates on both sides of the aisle have been predicting for years: stack the Court with Republican-appointed justices and Roe v. Wade will be overturned. The Court’s leaked opinion does just that, holding that both Roe and Casey are now bad law because there is no longer any constitutional right to abortion.

The current draft—which will be revised between now and its formal publication, likely in June—tells us a lot about where the Court stands on abortion, of course, but also other constitutional rights and the role of the courts in our constitutional republic.

First, though the opinion purports only to hold that there is no constitutional right to an abortion, thus permitting states to implement laws restricting, banning, or even criminalizing abortions, the language of the draft opinion lays the groundwork for a future federal ban on abortion altogether. Alito’s opinion approvingly quotes Mississippi’s claims that dilation and evacuation abortions are “barbaric,” “dangerous for the maternal patient,” and “demeaning to the medical profession” as “legitimate interests” that “provide a rational basis” for the Mississippi ban. (The draft opinion employs rational basis review rather than the tougher level of review reserved for gender-based distinctions because—though it may surprise any human on the planet to hear it—the Court reminds us that previous cases have established that “regulation of abortion is a not a sex-based classification”).  These “interests” are, of course, anti-choice talking points, not rational bases for a ban on abortion. Their embrace by the draft majority opinion makes clear that Alito is being disingenuous when he claims that the decision “is not based on any view about when a State should regard prenatal life as having rights or legally cognizable interests.” Instead, the opinion is suffused with the unstated but implied belief that legally cognizable life begins at conception.

Second, Alito is also deeply disingenuous when he argues the opinion won’t impact other fundamental rights. Alito’s opinion holds there is no right to abortion because that right is neither explicitly mentioned in the Constitution nor implicitly contained within the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection of an individual’s right to liberty. Many of our most cherished constitutional rights are only impliedly contained within the expansive, conceptual language of the Constitution. As Justice Marshall reminded the Court over 200 years ago, “we must never forget that it is a Constitution we are expounding.”

So why does it matter to other constitutional rights that Alito doesn’t think individual liberty includes the right to decide whether to have an abortion? Because the liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause and the right to privacy it encompasses are also the bases for the Court’s protection of gay marriage, the right to contraception, the right to private consensual sex, and the right to interracial marriage.

“Liberty,” the Court explained in Lawrence v. Texas, “presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct.” Alito says he can’t seem to find a liberty interest in abortion because “the most important historical fact” is “how the States regulated abortion when the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted.” Needless to say, these other core rights would also not fare well under an analysis that prioritizes what legislatures were doing in 1868. Alito has already suggested as much. His dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges reads like an early edition of this draft opinion, arguing that gay marriage “lacks deep roots” and “is contrary to long-established tradition” and thus is not a right that can be protected by the Constitution. 

Finally, the opinion makes clear that the guard rails are gone when it comes to SCOTUS decision making. Throughout the opinion Alito returns repeatedly to the argument that the decision will correct “Roe‘s abuse of judicial authority” and “return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” Of course, fundamental rights are fundamental rights because they are not up for debate by “the people’s elected representatives.” We don’t ask for state referenda on whether we should permit racially segregated schools. Courts do their best and most essential work for a democracy when they protect the interests that enable humans to live with dignity and autonomy.  

justice alito
Cartoon by Gary Markstein

In 2018, Alito wrote the majority opinion Janus v. AFSCME, the decision that held that public employees could not be compelled to pay agency fees to the unions that are required by law to represent them and advocate for their interests. Though public employee unions have passed the small “d” democratic test not once but twice—elected state legislators must first pass a law enabling public unions and then, of course, the public employees themselves must vote for their union—Alito’s majority opinion overruled a 41-year-old precedent to hold that agency fees violated the First Amendment rights of public employees. At the time of the opinion, commentators expressed concern that the Court’s easy overruling of a case it did not like did not bode well for Roe v. Wade in the hands of a differently constituted Court. And of course, that is precisely what seems to have happened.

Alito tries to ease the shock of the decision to overrule such longstanding and prominent precedent by citing a number of cases—I counted 26 in total—in which the Supreme Court has overruled its own precedent. But I am not aware of a single case on that list in which the Court overruled precedent to take away a previously granted constitutional right. 

So what is the end game here? Alito’s full vision for the United States has yet to be painted, but thus far it’s looking like an America in which “raw judicial power” (words he quotes disparagingly regarding Roe four times in the draft opinion) is used to foist the world views of judicially privileged interests upon the rest of us.

In the meantime, it means that where you live and what private resources you have at your command will be increasingly important to chart the course of your life.

As disconnected as they may seem on their face, overruling decades of precedent to weaken public unions on the one hand and doing the same to revoke a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion on the other are two sides of the same oppressive coin. They both chart dramatic turns away from an understanding of the law and Constitution grounded in commitments to individual dignity and autonomy in core spheres of life—work and family—and establish a core role for the judiciary in steering the ship in that direction. 

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Overturning Roe v. Wade is Just the First Step in the Evangelical War Against Women, LGBTQ People, and Anyone Else Different From Them

abortion texas

Article by Julia Conley, Common Dreams, Critics Warn Alito Draft Threatens Much, Much More Than Abortion Rights

The draft opinion leaked from the U.S. Supreme Court Monday night portends future attacks not just on Americans’ right to obtain abortion care, said critics on Tuesday, but also on anyone whose rights the court’s right-wing majority does not view as “deeply rooted” in U.S. history.

In the opinion, Justice Samuel Alito cited a number of reasons for the majority’s objection to legal abortion—including a discredited theory that abortion care is a racist tool of eugenics and Alito’s incorrect belief that “the costs of medical care associated with pregnancy and childbirth are covered by insurance”—but central to his argument is the claim that Roe v. Wade protects a right that is “not deeply rooted in the nation’s history and traditions.”

The phrase encapsulates “the most terrifying argument in that draft,” tweeted Oindrila Mukherjee, a professor at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

Judging from the draft opinion—which, Politico reported, was also supported by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett when the court apparently voted to overturn Roe v. Wade earlier this year—”everything is on the table,” said writer Rebecca Traister, naming other Supreme Court decisions which affirmed rights for Americans.

In the opinion, Alito “disavows the entire line of jurisprudence upon which Roe rests: the existence of ‘unenumerated rights’ that safeguard individual autonomy from state invasion,” wrote Mark Joseph Stern at Slate.

“The Supreme Court has identified plenty of ‘unenumerated rights’ that lack deep roots in American history,” he added. “Most recently, the court established the right of same-sex couples to be intimate (2003’s Lawrence v. Texas) and get married (2015’s Obergefell v. Hodges). Alito dismissed both decisions in harsh terms.”

Other legal experts also raised alarm that the court’s conservative majority appears to be “a half step away from letting states criminalize same-sex sexual intimacy.”

Stern wrote that Alito appeared to include language in the draft opinion which suggested the overturning of Roe would not weaken the protections that were affirmed by Loving v. Virginia, which affirmed the right to interracial marriage; Griswold v. Connecticut, which protected the right to obtain contraceptives; Skinner v. Oklahoma, which held that compulsory sterilization of people convicted of crimes was unconstitutional; and Pierce v. Society of Sisters, which struck down a law requiring parents to send their children to public schools.

“But Alito actually makes it extremely clear that he is not including Lawrence or Obergefell in his category of safe precedents!” Stern said. “Instead, he appears to include them as an example of illegitimate rights like abortion, which he is overruling in this very opinion!”

“As written, the draft is quite blithe and unflinching in its disdain for the constitutional basis of gay rights,” he added.

Despite Alito’s claim in the draft that previous decisions pertaining to Americans’ right to privacy will not be overturned, journalist Emma Vigeland said, lower courts are likely to “chip away at birth control legality, appealing it all the way up to this extremist SCOTUS.”

At The Daily Beast, Jay Michaelson wrote that with abortion rights found by the court to be not “deeply rooted” in U.S. history and therefore not protected under the Constitution, marriage equality could be overturned “within a year or two.”

“Unless another justice leaves the court, the constitutional right to marriage for all is going to be overturned,” Michaelson wrote. “The only question is whether Republicans will have a veto-proof majority (or the presidency in 2024) to ban both abortion and gay marriage anywhere in the nation.”

As Common Dreams reported Monday, with evidence emerging that the court is preparing to overturn Roe—likely making abortion illegal in more than two dozen states—Republican senators are currently developing a strategy to pass a nationwide ban on abortion care after six weeks of pregnancy, and anti-choice groups have lobbied potential 2024 Republican presidential candidates to run on passing the legislation.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

We Have Lost the Battle, But Have We Lost the War?

abortion
Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Letter to the Editor of the Defiance Crescent-News

Dear Editor,

Forty years ago, Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich birthed the Moral Majority. Falwell traveled America holding “I Love America” rallies. In 1981, my wife and I attended one such rally at the steps of the Capitol in Columbus. As a young Evangelical pastor, I was thrilled to hear Falwell speak of reclaiming America for God. Those were heady days, times when Evangelicals envisioned a path to a “Christian” nation. Falwell encouraged Evangelicals to not only win souls, but to also become political activists. Falwell knew the path to a Christian theocracy was political.

Fast forward to 2022. The baby has turned into a monster. Evangelicals, along with conservative Catholics and Mormons, have abandoned all pretense of evangelization. The goal now is raw political power — the establishment of a Christian nation, complete with laws from the Bible. Evangelicals have spent the past forty years incrementally chipping away at social progress, with the goal of returning America to the good old days of the 1950s: a time when abortion and homosexuality were illegal, women were barefoot and pregnant, LGBTQ people were closeted, people of color knew their place, and Bible reading and prayer were part of public school curricula.

Liberals and progressives, of which I am both, wrongly believed the progress of the 1960s and 1970s would continue to march forward. Whether due to naivety or intellectual laziness, liberals and progressives abandoned the field, retiring to institutions of higher learning. This abandonment has yielded the battleground to people who have no allegiance but to Jesus and the Bible.

Recently, a draft of a Supreme Court ruling on abortion was leaked to the public. The Court intends to reverse Roe v. Wade, immediately criminalizing abortion in numerous states. No one should be surprised by this outcome. And Evangelicals aren’t done. Next on the agenda is outlawing same-sex marriage, banning some forms of birth control, and a host of other hot-button culture war issues. One need only look at Evangelical hysteria over critical race theory, sex education, and gender to get a glimpse of the future.

I see no glimmer of hope on the horizon. I can’t and won’t give up, but I am realistic. Evangelicals have won the day. And they will continue to do so until we put an end to the present frontal assault on the separation of church and state.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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The Evangelical Plan to Return the United States to the 1950s

prayer in school

Many atheists, humanists, and progressives look at the declining attendance numbers for Evangelical churches and wrongly conclude that Evangelicalism as a movement is dying. Numerically, Evangelicalism is dying, as an increasing number of younger adults exit stage left never to be seen again. As baby boomers continue to die off, their numbers are not being replaced by younger people. Instead, more and more people in their 20s and 30s are self-identifying as atheists, agnostics, or nones (people who are indifferent towards organized religion). Based on the sheer volume of articles I see on this subject from Evangelical “experts,” it is clear that churches and pastors are alarmed over attendance losses.

If we wait long enough, Evangelicalism will die from self-inflicted wounds. Unable to leave off their penchant for waging war on people different from their tribe, there will come a day when Evangelicalism as we know it will no longer exist. However, by then the damage caused by these Evangelical culture warriors, along with their Catholic and Mormon compatriots, will be irreversible. Evangelicals have traded piety, holiness, and commitment to preaching the gospel for raw, naked political power. Evangelicals are the power and money behind Trumpism, Qanon, 1/6 Insurrection, and countless attempts to destroy sixty years of social progress. The goal is to return the United States to the 1950s.

Evangelicals harnessed incrementalism to advance their agenda This fact is aptly illustrated in their frontal assault on reproductive rights. It is widely believed by conservatives and liberals alike that the Supreme Court will soon reverse Roe v. Wade, giving states the right to totally outlaw abortion. This outcome was birthed forty years ago when Jerry Falwell and Paul Wyrich started the Moral Majority. Year by year, Evangelicals chipped away at reproductive rights, using an incrementalist approach to strip women of their right to choose.

Next on the Evangelical agenda are issues such as legally recognizing fertilized human eggs as persons, outlawing same-sex marriage, banning interracial marriage, criminalizing homosexuality, and a host of other culture war hot button issues. Who do you think is behind the outrage over LGBTQ-friendly books in schools, critical race theory, Disney, and socialism? Evangelicals, that’s who. No longer believing there is a separation between church and state, Evangelicals, if left to their own devices, fully intend to establish a Christian theocratic state. Your Evangelical neighbors might be friendly, smile when they see you, and seem to all around nice people, but make no mistake about it, behind closed doors and at church on Sundays, they shout hallelujah and amen when their preachers call on them to take back America for the Christian God.

one nation under god

I was born in 1957, an era drastically different from today. Evangelicals look at the 50s and sigh, wistfully wanting a return to the “good old days.” Knowing they currently control the levers of power, Evangelicals are working tirelessly to return us to the days when President Dwight Eisenhower and the U.S. Congress added “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance and put “In God We Trust” on our money. And make no mistake about it, this “God” is the Christian God of the Bible.

I grew up in a world where there was one God — the Christian God — homosexuality, abortion, and birth control were illegal, LGBTQ people were deeply closeted, Blacks knew their place, and the only thing Mexicans were good for was picking our crops. Christian morals and ethics were expected and demanded. School days began with the Pledge of Allegiance, Christian prayer, and readings from the Protestant Christian Bible. Patriarchalism and complementarianism were the norms. Divorce, sex before marriage, and pregnancy outside of marriage were frowned upon. This is the world Evangelicals want to return to.

It remains to be seen whether the Evangelical horde at the gate can be repelled. I am not optimistic. Liberals and progressives seem clueless about the real and present danger we face from Evangelicals. Our constitutional republic is weak, if not failing. Evangelicals know this and are using this weakness to advance their theocratic agenda. Their goal is Jesus on the throne in Washington D.C. and the Bible as the lawbook of the land. And when this happens, freedom is lost and people die.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

What Would a Bible-Based Culture Look Like?

abortion is murder al shannon

There is a staggering lack of Biblically-based knowledge and impact in America’s public square. Secularism, Christianity’s chief competitor, thrives solely in the absence of morality, and Christians have handed over the culture and its mountains of influence to those in rebellion against God. Any casual observer will recognize that secularism’s dominance of academia, newsrooms, sports, the Courts, big business, Hollywood, and medicine is a direct result of Christians ‘not doing politics’. It would seem that modern Christianity is ‘not doing education’ either, given that the secular worldview now is being spoon-fed to 85% of America’s youthUntil Christians step into the public square, reestablishing a Biblically-based culture, the ‘sexualization’ and secularization of youth, allied and abetted by Hollywood and media cliques, will continue to bring the nation to ruin.

— David Lane, The American Renewal Project

Evangelicals, conservative Catholics, and Mormons clamor for a Bible-based culture. In their minds, the Bible is the moral and ethical standard by which all of us should live. If only the United States were governed by the dictates of the Bible, all would be well. Several years ago, a local Fundamentalist Christian wrote a letter to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News (behind a paywall) extolling the wonderfulness of living in a country governed by the Bible. He went on to say that no one should fear Bible-based rule. “Christians,” he said, “only want what’s best for everyone.” Sadly, there are a lot of naive believers who think just like this man; that Christians only want love, joy, peace, and ice cream for everyone. However, history tells us differently; that when church and state are one, blood is shed, people die, and freedoms are lost. And make no mistake about it, theocracy is the goal. Christian apologists might hide their theocratic beliefs with flowery words and philosophical verbiage, but the naked truth is that, in their minds, there is one Lord, lawgiver, ruler, king, and potentate, and his name if Jesus. There is one perfect and infallible law book — the Bible. Knowing these things to be true, perhaps we should ponder what a Bible-based culture would look like?

One need only look at the frontal assault on abortion and Roe v. Wade to see what a Bible-based culture might look like. Anti-abortionists, using an incremental approach, have been chipping away at abortion rights for decades. Their efforts have reached the point of critical mass, and now abortion is effectively and totally banned in numerous states. These bans, of course, are meant to be a vehicle by which to relitigate Roe v. Wade. Now that President Trump has put two conservative pro-life judges on the U.S. Supreme Court, it is likely that the Court will, when given the opportunity, overturn Roe v Wade. This will, then, return the regulation of abortion to the states, and when that happens, many state legislatures will quickly move to ban and criminalize abortion — including abortions in the case of rape and incest. This will not be the end of the matter either. Emboldened by their win, Fundamentalist Christians will demand that birth control be outlawed and public-school students be taught Bible-based abstinence-only sex education. These zealots will also tirelessly work to enact laws that give fertilized eggs constitutional rights — demanding personhood for zygotes. The culmination of their efforts will come when doctors, following the dictates of their conscience, are prosecuted for performing abortions and mothers are arrested and imprisoned for “murdering” their unborn “children.”

Several years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. The same people who tirelessly worked to ban abortion are the same people who strived to criminalize homosexuality and deny LGBTQ people the same constitutional rights afforded to heterosexual Americans. Don’t think for a moment that these people are sitting at home licking their wounds as they watch lesbian porn. Convinced of the rightness of their beliefs and interpretations of the Bible, these Fundamentalist Christians are plotting to force gays back into closets and recriminalize sodomy and other “perverse” sexual behaviors. Now that the makeup of the Supreme Court skews to the right, I have no doubt that these zealots will do their best to afford the Court another bite at the same-sex-marriage apple. Believing that the Bible condemns homosexuality, theocrats demand and work towards a Bible-based culture where the Good Book®, and not personal morality and preferences, determines who may fuck whom when, where, and how. Failing to fuck according to God’s Holy Word would lead to arrest and imprisonment. And if these theocrats are consistent, they will demand that “sodomites” be executed for their crimes against humanity. This, dear readers, is what a Bible-based culture looks like.

In a Bible-based culture, other sexual “sins” such as adultery and fornication would also be banned. In fact, in the Old Testament alone, there are 613 laws. Of course, no Christian has ever kept all of God’s laws. Most Christians, including those clamoring for a theocracy, regularly and with impunity ignore God-given laws. Can anyone say, HYPOCRITES?! That said, even limiting a Bible-based culture to the Ten Commandments, is dangerous. In both versions of the Decalogue — yes there are two versions and they differ from one another — the Christian God demands total and absolute fealty and worship. According to numerous Bible stories, worshipping other gods was considered a capital crime punishable by death. I am quite sure that if Fundamentalist Christians ever gain the power of the state, the first people rounded up and sent to Franklin Graham Reeducation Camps will be atheists and Muslims. Fundamentalist Christians have a deep-seated hatred for the godless and worshippers of Allah. It chaps their testicles that we roam free on the Internet and in public. Every time the Freedom From Religion Foundation successfully litigates a church-state issue, their email inbox is filled with hate mail from offended followers of Jesus. Imagine these same people having the power of the state at their disposal. In a Bible-based culture, there’s no freedom of/from religion. There’s one God — Jesus — one religion — Christianity — and one lawbook — the Bible.

The next time you hear the cacophony of Fundamentalist Christians demanding the United States adopt a Bible-based standard of behavior, ask them exactly what they mean. Peruse the list of Actions Prohibited by the Bible on RationalWiki, and then ask them if their Bible-based culture would include some or all of the listed prohibitions. I think you’ll find that few zealots really want to live by all of the laws found in the Bible. Damn, talk about a miserable life! No, most theocrats just want to legislate and criminalize the big stuff. What they want, most of all, is a return to the 1940s and 1950s — a time when women were submissive keepers of their homes, people of color knew their place, LGBTQ people were not seen or heard, and the only fucking going on was that between monogamous heterosexual married couples. They want a culture where everyone goes to church, loves Jesus, and school children read the Bible and pray every day. In other words, Christian Fundamentalists want to roll back a hundred years of social progress. Never mind that their vision of a Mayberry-like world exists only in their Bible-sotted minds. Does anyone really believe Andy wasn’t fucking Helen and Gomer wasn’t smoking weed in the gas station bathroom?

The other day, I wrote a post detailing why Evangelicalism is dying. Let me be clear, Evangelicalism IS, most certainly, dying, but it has stage-one, not stage-four, cancer. One need only watch the machinations of Evangelical culture warriors to see that they have no intentions of going quietly into the night. There are times when I tip my cap to Christian Fundamentalists. They know what they are fighting for and are willing to metaphorically and, at times, literally kill everyone who gets in the way of their goal of establishing God’s kingdom on earth. Far too often, liberal and progressives are way too nice and polite. We can learn something from the tactics of Christian zealots: that social progress will only be achieved by stomping the beliefs and demands of theocrats into the ground. Until we understand that we are in a battle for the soul and future of American secularism, we will continue to have our asses handed to us by those demanding King Jesus rule over us all. Way too many secularists, religious or not, sit on the sidelines shooting the breeze while Christian Fundamentalists, in White Walker fashion, wage war against our Republic.

If the very thought of living in a Bible-based culture scares the living Christopher Hitchens out of you, then do something about it. You can start by joining and supporting groups such as the Freedom From Religion FoundationAmerican AtheistsAmerican Humanist AssociationSecular Coalition for AmericaSecular Student AllianceAmerican United for Separation of Church and State, and the American Civil Liberties Union. Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper. Work to elect political leaders who understand the importance of the separation of church and state and who will work with indefatigability to promote and preserve American secularism. And most of all, live out your liberal, progressive, humanistic values and ideals before the world. Let them see that there is, indeed, a better way.

If we don’t wage holy war against theocrats, who will? Passivity is deadly, and if we refuse to fight, we have no one to blame but ourselves when President Billy-the-Baptist and a Christian Congress demand Americans everywhere bow and worship the one true lawgiver, Jesus.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Bruce Gerencser