What Is Your Position on Co-Belligerence in Opposing Abortion?

Question from a reader:

EPM, what is your position on co-belligerence (when somebody who does not share your beliefs fights against a common cause)? An example of co-belligerence is Christians being allies with non-Christians against abortion. Is it OK for Christians to be an in alliance with atheists, Jewish leaders, and Muslims in opposing abortion?

Answer from Eternal Perspective Ministries:

Years ago Randy signed The Manhattan Declaration. He agreed with this statement several of the signers put out, and it has implications for your question about co-belligerence as well:

I signed The Manhattan Declaration because it is a limited statement of Christian conviction on these three crucial issues, and not a wide-ranging theological document that subverts confessional integrity. I cannot and do not sign documents such as Evangelicals and Catholics Together that attempt to establish common ground on vast theological terrain. I could not sign a statement that purports, for example, to bridge the divide between Roman Catholics and evangelicals on the doctrine of justification. The Manhattan Declaration is not a manifesto for united action. It is a statement of urgent concern and common conscience on these three issues—the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage, and the defense of religious liberty.

Likewise, EPM does believe it is possible to agree in principle with people of other faiths on this issue of the sanctity of human life, without endorsing the theology of those other faiths. For example, we do have serious theological disagreements with those of the Catholic faith, but we also recognize that the Catholic Church has done much to advance the prolife cause and to stand up for unborn children and their mothers. We can appreciate and admire that without agreeing with all aspects of their theology (though it would be important to consider how the united front is being presented to make that clear).

Abortion is fundamentally a violation of human rights, and it is possible for people of various religious beliefs to agree on that, just as we can be united that actions such as murder, child abuse, and rape are wrong. Randy writes about secular pro-lifers in his book ProChoice or ProLife:

One of my favorite pro-life advocates of all time was Nat Hentoff (1925-2017), the creator and editor of New York’s ultraliberal Village Voice. He was a self-described “atheist, a lifelong leftist, and a card-carrying member of the ACLU.” He detested most of the policies of conservative administrations, and certainly no one could write him off as an evangelical, a Sunday School teacher, or a political conservative. He was the opposite of all these. But he was also an outspoken civil liberties advocate who took constant heat from his liberal colleagues for publicly calling abortion the killing of children. Hentoff wrote, “Being without theology isn’t the slightest hindrance to being pro-life.”

Though they’re certainly outnumbered by religiously-affiliated pro-life organizations, there are groups such as Secular Pro-Life, Atheists Against Abortion, and Pro-Life Humanists. I attended a pro-life rally in Portland while standing beside those holding “Atheists for Life” signs. We had some great conversations!

Pro-Life Humanists describe their stance this way: “We oppose discrimination against biological humans on the grounds of what they look like and how they function, and we believe that abortion should be rejected on the same ground as racism, sexism and ableism—which place greater importance on what the human entity does and looks like, than on what the entity in question actually is.”

Kristine Kruszelnicki, the president of Pro-Life Humanists, writes, “I’m an atheist and I’m pro-life because some choices are wrong, violent, and unjust—and I want to do whatever I can to make abortion both unthinkable and unnecessary.”

It’s noteworthy that though most governments have long been secular, there’s hardly a nation in the world where abortion was legal prior to World War II. This shows that while they may be helpful, religious convictions aren’t necessary to believe unborn children’s lives are worth protecting. Decent societies have always believed that.

Photo: Unsplash