Guest post: Priorities

Guest post by Monette Richards, President of CFI – NE Ohio and a Director of Secular Woman.

I am being frustrated at the priorities we set in the secular movement. The amount of restrictions being passed against bodily autonomy, restrictions that have strong, deep roots in religion, are depending on bad and/or faulty science and yet are being outright ignored by most of the secular organizations. It is infuriating.

The slow but seemingly thorough takeover of hospitals by the Catholic Church is a growing problem that is hardly addressed. The directives set by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops set limits on the care they may provide. Already, we see this endangering women, especially those without the means to travel to another, non-religious, hospital.

Public funding for Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) has been an ongoing trend. CPCs are notoriously religion-backed clinics that use lies and tricks to try to keep pregnant individuals from having abortions. Public money is going toward groups that then try to push their religious views on pregnant people.

The entire anti-abortion movement, even the secular one, is totally and completely based on religion and bad science. And yet, Hemant Mehta thinks giving them a platform, twice, to present this argument is a great idea! Even Silverman bought into it. We need to hold their feet to the fire and not let them fudge these arguments. Anti-abortion arguments are based on either religion or bad science.

And this bad science is being worked into bills, forcing doctors to outright lie to patients. Healthcare coverage is being denied by redefining contraceptive to abortifacient.

So, why haven’t these facts brought our movement to its feet to grab the torches and pitchforks? Why would a movement that jumps on any chance to make sure creationism isn’t taught in public schools not also work just as hard to keep bills based on junk science from becoming laws?

We are a movement built by, mostly, white middle class men and, therefore, are structured to focus on white middle class men issues. We are a movement who can find the time and money to support a man who wants to “try atheism for a year” but can barely find the funds for a program for young, black female humanists.

Secular Woman’s origin is due to much of this. We needed an organization that put these issues as our focus. We should not have to depend on organizations which will not focus on the religious aspect of these issues, like NARAL, PP, and NOW, to protect us from the onslaught. And it should be obvious that they are not enough, anyway. It should be obvious that when religion invades the lives of some of us, it is a problem for all of us.

This is not to say we shouldn’t ALSO work on other things. This is no Dear Muslima. I’m a big believer in ending microagressions as well as hugely obvious transgressions of the First Amendment. Getting Jesus pictures out of schools and ten commandment plaques off of courtroom walls are important tasks.

For the past few years, we have been facing very awful laws that are getting passed in lot of states, with poor women suffering the most. And these very awful laws are being mostly ignored by the secular movement.

We have organizations paying to court the most conservative, the people who are behind these same laws, these same encroachments, these same directives which are actively harming women.  When we should all be working together to stop them.

I’m frustrated. I’m angry. Why isn’t everyone?


  1. says

    Excellent post.

    We should not have to depend on organizations which will not focus on the religious aspect of these issues, like NARAL, PP, and NOW, to protect us from the onslaught.

    I had never really thought of this issue.

  2. says

    But it’s more important to tone-troll PZ about his blog commenters!!!

    There’s some way I could frame that as a “Dear Muslima” but … ugh.

  3. frogmistress says

    Actually, I owe that revelation to Autumn Reinhardt-Simpson. She mentioned her experience with NARAL not liking it when she discussed the religion factor when blogging for them.

  4. elephantasy says

    Wonderful post.

    I was involved in organizing the Alabama Rally for Secular Government last year. We had a mix of religious and nonreligious speakers. Some rights organizations declined to participate, which we found greatly disappointing. I think in retrospect it was an example of what is noted here, that groups are reluctant to push back explicitly against religion, perhaps only wishing to challenge Religious Right with Religious Left.

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