My partner woke me up the other morning with a little heading he found on Reddit. Something about some congressman calling women “earthen vessels sanctified by God”, and while the comment made us both cackle with laughter for a little bit it also left me with that sinking despair feeling I often get when I think about the implications of religious extremists running a country. Like, this accused sexual harasser and chronic liar, who dropped out of his single semester at college due to his straight Ds, basically went on record calling women cum buckets. This poor half-wit thinks of women as living baby incubators. Which, not shocking; he had a hundred and fifty of his classmates sign a document verifying his twelve victims’ experiences at college. (His one semester of college.) Guy obviously does not believe in women’s bodily autonomy and never has, so these comments, while gross, are kinda…obvious.
What’s more troubling to me is the people who vote him and his like into power, and what’s more troubling than knowing they exist is that I used to be among them. I know the people who voted for this guy, because I know the people who think like this guy.
I know it doesn’t sound like it (because I am an increasingly annoyed) but I actually do have a lot of empathy for Christian extremists. I remember my Sunday school lessons, and I remember the language our youth pastors and the writers we loved used to manipulate teenagers into chastity, or donating money, or voting against immigrants and women, and I remember how desperately I wanted to be a disciple. We were literally dissuaded from thinking for ourselves. “Die to self”, they told us. “Seek not understanding, but obedience”. (“…even if it seems unreasonable”. Literally, even if this command from “God” does not stand to reason.)
Reject reasoning and believe.
I was a true believer, clinging to Jesus and my church friends desperately because I needed them and I needed to believe it was all true. I remember experiencing “doubt” as a teen or young adult and being horrified that Satan himself was battling the holy spirit for my soul, and begging God for more faith. I was taught not to read or look at or pontificate anything that may challenge the Bible, so I tried not to. I didn’t want to burn in a literal hell and I was really sold on the idea of a redemption arc, of justice for the oppressed, of healing for the fallen world.
Anyway, something about believing in fairy tales, a vengeful God in the sky who speaks directly to His followers through text he wrote through the hands of ancient old men, really primes people for conspiracy theories later in life. You can present a conservative Christian with statistics and evidence conflicting their deeply held beliefs and they just cling harder to those beliefs, angrily, with a persecution complex. I know a person who warned a friend against going to the hospital if she gets covid because “they’re killing unvaccinated people in there”. It’s hilarious, because obviously what’s killing unvaccinated people is the disease, but you cannot reason with psychosis. I think Christianity primes people for political psychosis (and multi-level marketing schemes, but that’s another story).
When I was a Christian, I was told I was “not of this world”, that I had a special relationship witht the creator and sustainer of the universe that the “knowledge” of this sinful world could never understand. Christians are taught to hold strong against any “evidence” they’re confronted with. I didn’t care how compelling my college professor’s arguments for evolution were. (I literally dropped out of an anthropology course on day one because it was evolution, ie science, based.) Christians are primed for conspiracy theories because our entire lives, we’re taught to reject science and mainstream journalism, and also that we’re being relentlessly persecuted by Satan and his followers. It’s not that far of a jump to believe climate change and evolution are lies to doubting vaccine efficacy. It’s not that far of a jump to believe the world “hates” you because you follow Christ to, I dunno, your leader is the only person standing between the vulnerable and a secret cabal of pedophile vampires. (Regardless of damning evidence that your leader is himself, the wealthy pedophile. Whatever…)
It’s hilarious if it wasn’t true, and if these people didn’t hold political power. If it feels like the world is watching our 200 year old empire (which I heard a country song refer to as “God’s Country” the other day and cringed; as if the all-powerful, eternal, omnipresent Creator really waited till a couple hundred years ago to settle down…) slip into religious extremism and fascism, its because it is.
Christians are taught to reject science, mistrust journalism, feel persecuted, feel special, and they’re super into submissive women, so…you can see how we’re in the mess we’re in now with abortion rights. We just celebrated the 49th and probably final anniversary of Roe vs Wade.
I want you to remember, too, friends, that many if not most of the American Christian congregations ban women from positions of leadership. Why? Well, as one youth pastor explained to me, if a woman was up on stage teaching, the boys would be too distracted by their sexual fantasies about her to learn anything. Duh. (Unrelated sidenote, a few years ago the head pastor of that megachurch got in big trouble for having sex with underaged girls earlier on in his career. We can’t have female leaders because boys will sexualize us, but we also maybe shouldn’t have male leaders because they’re also apt to sexualize their teenaged congregation.)
What happens to a bunch of girls and boys who have never had a woman leader? Well, call me crazy for thinking this, but I have this theory that they’ll probably grow up dehumanizing women and viewing them as baby incubators and sexy props for a man’s main-character narrative.
“Earthen vessels sanctified by God”. Just…incredible. It’s wild to me how the far-right extremists weaponize women against other women, too. Whatsherface is arguing that being forced to carry and birth unwanted children is “empowering”. What the fuuuuccckkkkk. Remember, we’re one of the only industrialized nations without national paid maternity leave and the highest maternal mortality rate. (This is at least partly, probably mostly, due to systemic racism.)
This country does not care about people with uteruses unless they’re “vessels” for baby incubation.
I don’t really know where we go from here but I will say, its been exciting to watch certain friends I know from back in my church days slowly step away from the oppressive and extremist views we were taught were God’s will.
I also want to share links to abortion pills online, and let ya know there is funding for you if you can’t afford an abortion. Send me a private message and I can link you to resources.