We’re back with another edition of “Meet the Pro-Life Atheists”. The lovely gal I wish to introduce to you as our latest “celebrity pro-life atheist” is none other than the ever-sassy, brilliantly-artsy, cat-loving, Siouxsie Sioux-adoring, gothic chick Julie Thielen – aka Cannibal Rose! Our dear Julie recently underwent major surgery and survived like champ to see another birthday (it’s today, hip-horray!) … so now seems like as good a time as any to let you know a bit about the lady we’ve all been rooting for!
I was only able to acquire a picture of her feline babies (a picture which I’ve prettied up for this grand occasion with some text and a nice Sioux frame to boot!), but when she’s all better and feeling glamorous again, I’m sure she’ll grace us with a “I’m an anti-theist and I’m pro-life” portrait – right Julie? 😉
Kristine, PLH: So first things first: Julie, I’ve often heard you describe yourself as anti-theist as well as atheist. Why is that?
JULIE: I would say I’m an atheist because of a sheer lack of any kind of evidence to prove that there is or ever was a god. In fact, science is good evidence AGAINST it. I’m an anti-theist because of the horrific and horrendous damage religion has unleashed upon this world – much of it continuing to this day: The subjugation of women, homophobia, genital mutilation — and I place male infant circumcision in that category too — and so much more. It sickens me! Religion is the enemy of peace and equality, and should be actively battled.
Kristine, PLH: How long have you been an atheist?
JULIE: I was raised by an Evangelical Fundamentalist Christian, but started asking unpopular questions quite early in life. By age 16 I was an agnostic. I really didn’t believe in any higher power, but it was a scary transition to make, so I baby-stepped it. At 19 I took the plunge and came out publicly as an atheist. This was 21 years ago.
Kristine, PLH: So as far as your views on abortion are concerned, were you ever in favour of abortion? If so, why?
JULIE: Yeah, I once considered myself pro-choice. It was more of a default position. “Don’t you want to support women? Shouldn’t a woman control her own body?” Those things sound simple, but they’re misleading and loaded questions to a young mind (and I do mean young — I was a pre-teen). I lacked the ability to critically think about the issue.
Kristine, PLH: Did you ever have a personal encounter with abortion that marked you or influenced your thinking in any way?
JULIE: When I was 14 a friend thought she was pregnant. She was consumed with ending the pregnancy and I, thinking I was being a good friend, tried to help her. She needed money for the abortion, she needed a ride to the clinic — I tried to help her arrange these things. It turned out she wasn’t pregnant, which was a great relief to both of us! But the experience really started me thinking. By then I’d begun taking biology and learning about genetics. I realized that a fetus is a human being, not a mere “product of conception”, and once gone, irreplaceable. I realized my friend had never even though of the fetus. That baby was the last thing on her mind — aside from her drive to expel it from her body and mind. I thought, “wow, how utterly selfish.” No one is disposable. I truly felt like I dodged a bullet when she found she was not pregnant, and I was ashamed at my part in trying to “help” her.
Kristine, PLH: You say biology influenced you, can you elaborate on that? Most atheists see the same biological and genetic facts you did, and yet they determine that a fetus isn’t fully human, and they come away supporting the so-called “woman’s right” to abortion.
JULIE: I view abortion as a women’s and human rights issue. We need to protect the vulnerable. When a sperm meets the egg you have a complete, unique human being. Not a nectarine, not an Allen wrench, not an armadillo. A human being. At no point in gestation does this creation GAIN humanity — it already is human. All it needs is time and nutrition to mature into an older human who will travel out of the uterus into the outside world. This life is no less valuable than the woman carrying it. And the sheer fact that statistically speaking, females are more frequently aborted simply because of their gender makes my blood boil!
Kristine, PLH: Many atheists would argue that freedom is a hallmark of a secular culture and that abortion restrictions impede freedom and individual autonomy, how would you respond to that?
JULIE: Life is the hallmark and benchmark of all culture. Without it all other rights are meaningless, including freedom. I believe very strongly in individual autonomy — and children in utero are very much individuals. It is not the pregnant woman’s body dismembered and thrown out as biological waste, it’s someone else’s.
Kristine, PLH: How has the atheist community responded to your views?
JULIE: Most atheists deride me for being pro-life. Sadly it can get pretty nasty rather quickly. Personal insults from pro-choice atheists aren’t just common, but the norm. Thankfully I have found a good group of fellow atheist ‘lifers who are quick to come to my aid when I am attacked. We all do it — we have to be there for each other. And our numbers are slowly growing.
Kristine, PLH: Have traditional Christian pro-lifers received you any more graciously?
JULIE: Ha! Traditional Christian ‘lifers can’t stand me! I get more hate from them than I do from atheist ‘choicers! Occasionally I get lip service to the tune of “Oh anyone who saves babies is okay with me!” but that quickly shrivels and dies when I rebuff their attempts to interject their religion into everything. I choose to avoid traditional ‘lifer groups because frankly, they nauseate me with their religious heavy-handedness and opposition to birth control.
Kristine, PLH: What do you think we as atheists have to offer the pro-life cause that others may not?
JULIE: Atheist ‘lifers have so much to offer! ‘Choicers view ‘lifers as crazy religious zealots stuck in the 18th century. We, atheist ‘lifers, can show them that an imaginary sky daddy has absolutely nothing to do with opposing abortion. That science, compassion, and equality (not to mention basic human rights) back us up. ‘Choicers are generally more receptive to someone who isn’t religious than to someone who is religious.
Kristine, PLH: What would you like to see Christian pro-lifers do differently in the future of the pro-life movement?
JULIE: I would like to see Christian ‘lifers leave their religion at the door, and focus more on biology and equality. They also need to lose their antiquated notions regarding birth control! It’s no surprise to me that the states with the highest percentages of Christians are also the least sexually educated, and wind up with the highest rates of teen pregnancy.
Kristine, PLH: What is your vision for a secular yet pro-life world? How do you feel we can best reduce the numbers of abortions and help women at the same time?
JULIE: Remove the perceived need for abortion. Universal health care and social safety nets are a must! Don’t just fight for the child to be born, ensure that the child (and mother) have the resources they need to be healthy and stable. That is imperative! A better, revamped adoption and foster care system is needed — these are not “throw away kids”, they’re OUR kids — give them a chance… Pregnant and parenting students need to be accommodated in their schools, not punished… Raise the minimum wage to a living wage… Those are just a few things.
Kristine, PLH: Anything else you’d like to tell the world while the PLH mic is in your hands, Julie?
JULIE: Being pro-life is so much more than opposing abortion. It’s about embracing life in all forms. I stand against the death penalty, violence and war. I stand for animal rights, vegetarianism/veganism, birth control, social safety nets and universal health care. I say: be a part of the solution or get out of the way!
Kristine, PLH: Thanks and lots of love to you. Speedy recovery and a happy birthday from all your friends here at Pro-Life Humanists. I personally look forward to working with you on many future projects to come! And as you so aptly say: Squeeeeee! 🙂
And to everyone else, if you loved this, be sure to check out our previous pro-life atheist celebrity interviews!
And if you’d like to see more from Cannibal Rose, she’s got an awesome Cafepress shop with clever stickers you may enjoy. 🙂