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“Donating To An Atheist Would Be Like Helping The Devil”

“Donating To An Atheist Would Be Like Helping The Devil”

Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Being a Pro-Life Atheist | 16 comments


PRO-LIFE ATHEIST = Helping the devil?

PRO-LIFE ATHEISTS = “Helping the devil?”

In a way, donating to an atheist would be like helping the devil“. That’s what someone recently told me as I wondered out loud why so many pro-life Christians seem especially reluctant to fund my group’s pro-life educational projects.   I had no idea!  Pro-life Humanists (and all of you out there who are pro-life atheists and/or non-Christians) are helping the devil to save unborn babies – imagine that!  Such monsters we are!  And all this time, Christians have been arguing that abortion is the work of the devil – but somehow so is trying to stop abortion?  And whatever happened to Luke 9:40 “whoever is not against us is for us“?

I launched Pro-Life Humanists a few years ago after seeing that of the many pro-life groups out there who do person-to-person outreach to the general public, there were none specifically equipped to reach the ever-growing atheist and humanist communities.  Many secular young adults and recent defectors from religion want nothing to do with Christians, yet remain unsure about their views on abortion.  Pro-life atheists are uniquely poised to encourage those young people toward a pro-life position, and toward advocacy of non-violent solutions to unplanned pregnancy.

But more to the point, I launched Pro-Life Humanists because, like other pro-life atheists who have aspired to be career pro-life advocates, I’ve been repeatedly turned down from positions in the pro-life movement.   Back in 2001 I was impressed by pro-life leaders Scott Klusendorf and Gregg Cunningham’s  pleas for more full time pro-life advocates: there are more people working full time to kill preborn children than to save them.   Groups like theirs, (which largely only use secular arguments in their public work – a tactic I loved even when I was Christian) have lauded my informal debate skills whenever I’ve joined them as a volunteer.  In my early twenties I received glowing reference letters from both Klusendorf* and the former midwest director of Cunningham’s group.  But since I left faith behind, they have repeatedly rejected my offers to join them as full time staff and to raise my own salary under their organizations’ umbrellas.   They only want staff who are “under spiritual leadership” and who can “join with them in prayer”.

* (See clarification note at end)

Unfortunately, the drudgery and finance of having to start up my own organization just to be able to do pro-life work was further complicated by the challenge of drumming up financial partners to make this work happen.  It seems that not only do most pro-life Christian groups prefer to only hire pro-life Christians, but most pro-life Christians also tend to prefer donating to groups run by fellow Christians.  If you doubt this trend, watch the video of two identical groups fundraising for an identical charity with nothing but “Atheist” and “Methodist” differencing them.  (Incidentally, we get those looks when we attend the March for Life too).  That no other group but a pro-life atheist group can bring the pro-life cause to the inner world of the atheist community doesn’t impress most pro-life Christians enough to make them want to donate to an atheist group – not even one doing something they agree with.    

Last year, a substantial donor and her colleagues backed out on a contribution that could’ve helped us pay our cost of outreach to the American Atheist Convention and American Humanist convention (flights plus $400-$500 table fees, plus $300 conference fees per event).    She had been excited to help until she realized that we not only do pro-life outreach to atheists, but we also are atheists.

Email sent to my colleague Noah from a rescinding donor: "I did not research Kristine's website enough before I offered to make a donation. I did not realize that Kristine herself is an atheist. I thought she just spoke at atheist conventions with her message. I am Christian first and prolife second. I cannot support messages about unborn babies which do not attach the message of God's creation."

Email sent to my colleague Noah from a rescinding donor: “I did not research Kristine’s website enough before I offered to make a donation. I did not realize that Kristine herself is an atheist. I thought she just spoke at atheist conventions with her message. I am Christian first and prolife second. I cannot support messages about unborn babies which do not attach the message of God’s creation.”          [Emphasis added]

Rather than abandon my intended outreach effort, I put the bulk of the cost of both outreaches (about $3000 total) onto my personal credit card and went anyway.  I had high hopes that once pro-lifers saw the fruit of my labour and the atheist minds changed to pro-life, they would get excited about my work and the funds would follow.

I was wrong.  Not about my success – minds were changed at both events (and again at three other events I attended later that summer and fall).   It was exhausting work to stand at a table for 18+ hours on three or four consecutive days, defending the pro-life position to inquiring and sometimes hostile passersby (I even got stopped with questions when I withdrew to the bathroom!)   But despite verbal enthusiasm and Facebook “likes” from fellow pro-lifers in response to the news of pro-choice atheists becoming pro-life atheists, the funding still didn’t come. I got a few hundred very appreciated dollars from one very generous donor and a handful of smaller gifts from faithful friends, but the bulk of the outreach cost remained mine to carry.   I guess we’re still a group of evil atheists, after all.

So it is that while other pro-life peers of mine are bringing in enough funds under established pro-life groups to earn a salary from their pro-life work, I’m quite literally paying out of pocket and going into debt to do mine.  Friends have suggested I should quit and put my own needs first (I suffer from chronic health challenges and other problems that could well be receiving my financial attention) but I continue to resist quitting.  I’m doing this for those who have no voice and whose entire lives are on the line.  I don’t think I have the moral right to walk away from them!

Yes I am an atheist, but I so very desperately want to make a difference, and to help create a society where both unplanned and planned children are given the love and support they and their mothers deserve.   And with the pro-life movement pleading for more full-time career workers, why should I have to content myself with being just another part-time volunteer or at best an online blogger with a limited reach – when I have so much more to offer this movement?

If you’re a pro-life Christian or religious person who grasps the importance of a pro-life presence in the atheist community,  I plead with you to not allow our differences in beliefs to keep you from making our unique outreach possible.  There aren’t enough pro-life atheists to adequately fund our work, and without your help we’re unable to continue changing minds offline to turn pro-choice atheists into pro-lifers.

And of course, if you’re a non-religious prolifer I beg the same of you.  This group exists to bring your voice to our community, and while we’re willing to do the hard work at these events, we very much need your help to make that  work possible.   Unlike the fundraisers in the video I previously mentioned, we can’t count on most atheists (4/5 non-religious = pro-choice) to be enthused about our work either.  So if you don’t help fund us – who will?

Please make a contribution to our latest fundraiser through Gofundme today.   I assure you, we’re not helping the devil – but we’d really like to help save some preborn children, with your help!


(Clarification 28/05/16: The “they” in “they have repeatedly rejected” refers to the “groups like theirs.”  While I received a reference letter from Scott Klusendorf, he himself was not the one who rejected my offer, but rather a member of his staff who told me Scott wouldn’t hire an atheist.  “repeatedly rejected” refers to multiple conversions over a series of weeks and in person with a regional director of Cunningham’s organization with whom I have often volunteered, one conversation with the member of Scott’s team, and a few other conversations over the past few years with other pro-life organizations.  My apologies for the apparent implication that I had directly asked Scott Klusendorf if I could work for him and that he himself had repeatedly turned me down.  Scott has since stated that there is a distinction between “assisting atheist pro-lifers and employing them.” and that he will  “gladly do the former.”)
… I’m not sure the distinction matters all that much to a pro-life atheist who needs job and is trying to be gainfully employed in the pro-life movement.)

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Dear Pro-Choice Atheists: You don’t own Atheism!

Dear Pro-Choice Atheists:  You don’t own Atheism!

Posted by on Apr 17, 2015 in Being a Pro-Life Atheist | 28 comments

Berenstain Bears title page "No Girls Allowed" modified: No pro-life atheists allowed

Dear pro-choice atheists: Atheism is not your clubhouse.  You don’t get to decide who can or can’t be an atheist and who gets to partake of the atheist community, be it its conferences, its blogs, or its online forums. Yes, pro-life atheists are a minority (19% of the non-religious identify as pro-life) but that doesn’t mean those of you in the majority get to bully us into silence and absenteeism!

I recently attended my second American Atheist Convention and for the most part it was a positive experience.  Those who came by our table found reasoned and philosophical discussion about human rights and whether or not the right to the bodily autonomy of one can supercede the right to life of another.   They shared their arguments and I told them why I believe it’s inaccurate to compare pregnancy to forced organ donation.  Most of them left with a smile, hug or handshake, as well as with a “Thwart, Don’t Abort” condom, and I believe the exchanges overall were mutually civil and often quite pleasant.

Twitter screen grab: had a great dialog with pro-life humanists group

Unfortunately, not all pro-choice atheists at the convention responded to us with the same open-minded grace.  While some simply ignored our table or made sour-milk faces at us as they  hurried by, one young woman tried to rub her pro-choice majority in our face by putting up a Planned Parenthood donation box right next to our table.  It wasn’t an original gesture (as a reaction against our presence, someone had done it in 2012 when I’d tabled with Secular Pro-Life) but it’s still just as rude: Imagine being a meat eater and setting up a donation box to a slaughterhouse right next to a Vegan table just to spite them.*

We already know we’re in the minority here,” I told her gently as she set up her donation bag (on my new pro-choice friend’s table, no less) “Why do you feel the need to further mark the division between us, where we’ve mostly had a spirit of diversity and open discussion all day?”  Her response to my question was a diatribe so hot and angry that it prompted her organization’s leader to later make an apology on her behalf.   Like many I’d chatted with that weekend, I appreciated the leader’s affirmation of diversity among atheists.  Still, the intense animosity of the young woman had been nonetheless disappointing.

There are some among you, my dear atheist peers, who think being secular means making a world of people who think exactly like you.  Those like atheist blogger Greta Christina who a couple days ago wrote an open letter to American Atheists disparaging them for “courting atheist conservatives”.  For the record, I and most of Pro-Life Humanists’ members are quite left wing on most issues (most of us identify as anti-death-penalty, pro-GLBT rights, anti-war, pro-welfare & state-funded daycare, pro right-to-die so long as the dying person makes the choice, anti non-consensual genital alteration, and anti-violence overall – which is why we side against the violent choice of abortion) … but even if our pro-life views came from a larger Conservative philosophy, who gets to decide that we don’t belong in your events?  When did atheism become yours anyway?   Sorry, but I must’ve missed the conference where we elected the Atheist Pope and agreed on a Catechism of acceptable Atheist views and doctrines.

When Christians lose their faith and come to atheism, sociologists like Phil Zuckerman have demonstrated that most leave religion only after first falling out of step with their church’s conservative values.   This creates the illusion that atheist = liberal, but only because liberals are more likely to abandon the religion that doesn’t match their values.   On the other hand, a growing number of people are leaving religion not because their values conflict with their church, but rather because they take issue with the mythologies and so-called sacred writings themselves.  Values which hinged on those writings (standards of sexuality & hetero marriage, for example) usually get tossed or significantly modified, while values like human rights, which were already grounded in a larger philosophy of non-violence and in our understanding of human bodies’ biological beginnings, remain with us.  Becoming secular doesn’t mean we all start thinking alike and churning out cloned liberal conclusions.  It merely means that when we talk about the social issues that divide society, our discussions will no longer be clouded by religious gobbledygook.  Atheists have collectively eliminated the red herring, but that’s not the same thing as having correctly solved all of society’s moral mysteries.

It’s time to stop giving conservatives and pro-lifers the cold shoulder.   My irony metre nearly broke when I heard the same young woman who’d so vehemently opposed the presence of pro-life atheists in the exhibit room, later that day bemoan over a secular podcast just how badly it hurt to be ostracized by her ethnic community for being in a non-believing minority.   Pro-life atheists bleed the same hurts you do!  Many of us have likewise been cut off from very religious friends and family or are unable to spend time alone with our own nieces and nephews because our family fears we might try to dissuade them from their young faiths.  And so long as you’re concerned with not “alienating the millions of female atheists”, remember that most pro-life atheist leaders are females – and we don’t take kindly to being alienated by you either.  We come to the atheist community for the same sense of family and fellowship all atheists do – except unlike other minorities within atheism, pro-life atheists find ourselves being ostracized further and sometimes yelled at, simply because  we support rights for humanity’s pre-born.

Last I checked, American Atheists was not called “American Pro-Choice Atheists”.  Neither is there a group out there called “Center for Inquiry on Everything but Abortion” nor an online forum for “The Thinking Pro-Choice Atheists Who Won’t Think About Pro-Life Arguments” etc.    So please stop moaning that people who are different than you are being allowed into your club.  Atheism isn’t your clubhouse.  It’s our clubhouse – the atheist community belongs to all of us!


* In the spirit of inclusivity, I’m hoping that American Atheists will select a less divisive charity than Planned Parenthood for future charity events held officially by the conference. Women’s shelter, food bank, animal rescue, children’s hospital, low-income reading program… we have common ground to work with!

Liked our post? We are only able to do this with the financial support of readers like you. Help us to continue to speak out in the community for the pre-born!

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The Dawn of the Full-time Pro-Life Atheist

The Dawn of the Full-time Pro-Life Atheist

Posted by on Nov 14, 2013 in Being a Pro-Life Atheist, Featured posts | 11 comments


Hire me sign
Twelve years ago, at an annual pro-life student symposium in Toronto, I had the privilege of sitting under the tutelage of pro-life apologist Scott Klusendorf. After leaving us rapt with awe over the simplicity of making a solid yet secular pro-life defense, Scott further impressed us with the importance of considering full-time pro-life work as a career choice. I’ll never forget his words*:

“There are more people working full-time to kill babies than there are working full-time to save them. That’s because killing babies is very profitable, while saving them is very costly – so costly that large numbers of people who say they are pro-life are not lifting a finger to stop the killing, and those that do lift a finger do just enough to salve the conscience, but not enough to actually stop the killing.”

I believe Mr Klusendorf is right about this. Most pro-life action is undertaken part-time, often by stay-at-home mothers and grandmothers, whereas abortion advocates have doctors and paid professionals, politicians, judges, lawyers, and university professors all working to propagate abortion ideology and ensure that it remains on demand. The rest of us (and by that I mean we who regularly engage the issue, say nothing of the hundreds of thousands who are pro-life in ideology but never speak or think of it unless explicitly asked) unite a few times a year for a March for Life or a Life Chain, or to attend a pro-life conference with like-minded friends. But how many of us pro-life faithfuls are involved in actual activism on a regular basis? Do we treat abortion like a hobby? Something we can devote a few hours to, here and there?

Those that do lift a finger do just enough to salve the conscience, but not enough to actually stop the killing. Could this be true? I know I feel so zealous after attending a pro-life event, but I often ask myself: am I really doing all I can do to change minds in the culture at large? How easy it is to fall into a habit of simply blogging and talking to one another! We reason that we’re making a difference because, after all, we do the occasional debating with abortion advocates on Facebook or Twitter, and perhaps we even have the occasional dialog with pro-choice friends or colleagues. But do our efforts match the intensity of the abortion death toll around us?

With approximately 44 million global abortions occurring annually, that means that every single day, more than 120,000 developing human beings beginning their lives in a position of utmost dependency just like you began yours, are being denied their opportunity at life. Every. Day. Are we acting like it? In North America alone, it’s about 4000 per day. Every. Day. Are we who got to live and who know this killing is wrong doing everything we can? I’ll wager we all could do more. And that’s why I’ve decided to make Mr Klusendorf’s challenge my own. And it’s why I’m passing it on to you.

I launched Pro-Life Humanists with the intention of ultimately building a fully-funded pro-life organization that atheists can work in. (Read this post to learn how too many pro-life organizations won’t hire atheists)
I’m asking you to consider doing one of two things:

1. Consider a full or part time career as a pro-life advocate. Join me in making it your job to become as thoroughly equipped and trained to defend the pro-life position as possible. Join me in taking the pro-life message back out into the atheist community where it’s not often heard.
2. “Hire” one of us. If you can’t make a career of pro-life work, you can become the collective employer of those who aspire to do so. A team of 100 people funding $30/mth, 60 people donating $50/mth or 200 people donating $15/mth can collectively hire (at a baseline survival level) one person to be their full-time voice for the voiceless. There are many funded pro-life organizations out there, let’s make sure there’s at least one where atheists can work!

We’re starting small and we’re part-time volunteers for now, and of course we’ll need to fund the organization too, since one of the main purposes of Pro-Life Humanists – flying to atheist conventions to dialog one-on-one with our peers – will require at least $2000 – $3000 per event, but I’m letting you know this is on the radar and you – especially if you’re a pro-life atheist who has wanted to be more active but didn’t know what you could do – are a part of this. Please be a part of this. There are so few of us and this work is vital!

I want to hear from you. Please click below or send me an email at emailicon
… and let’s chat about how you can be involved. No one is holding the door for pro-life atheists – not the majority of our atheist peers and not the majority of mainstream Christian pro-lifers. It’s up to me and it’s up to you.

* Gregg Cunningham, director of Center for Bioethical Reform first spoke those words to Scott himself, prompting Scott to leave his job as a pastor and pursue full-time pro-life work.

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