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Meet the Pro-Life Atheists 3: Julie Thielen

Meet the Pro-Life Atheists 3: Julie Thielen

Posted by on Aug 21, 2014 in Pro-Life Atheists - Meet our family | 0 comments

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? 😉

Julie Thielen (Cannibal Rose)  pro-life atheist

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. 🙂

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Meet the Pro-Life Atheists 2: Frank L. Ludwig

Meet the Pro-Life Atheists 2: Frank L. Ludwig

Posted by on Nov 29, 2013 in Pro-Life Atheists - Meet our family | 5 comments

There’s been some delay, but we’re back with another edition of Meet the Pro-Life Atheist!!! Today’s “celebrity pro-life atheist” is poet and writer Frank L. Ludwig. Frank is a true rarity: He’s an Atheist in Ireland!

Frank L. Ludwig, Pro-life Atheist

PLH: Frank, first of all, what’s it like being an Irish Atheist?

Frank: Well I’m originally from Germany, so I think that as a German in Ireland my atheistic position is more tolerated than that of the atheist natives, since I’m from a different culture. However, I’m sure they’d much prefer it if I kept my views to myself.

PLH: What are some of those views?

Frank: I’m not only atheist, I’m anti-theist. That means I openly oppose religion because of the damage it causes, both to society and to individuals.   It damages society with things like war, discrimination, violence etc. and it hurts individuals through such things as the indoctrination of children with the belief that they are worthless without a god and that they are sinners.

PLH: Have you been an atheist and anti-theist a long time?

Frank: Like all other babies I was born an atheist, but the second time I became one was when I was 13 or 14 and realized that religion and the concept of God didn’t make any sense to me. I told my parents at that time that I didn’t want to have my confirmation and they said that was fine, but that I would still have to keep attending church anyway. Since it didn’t seem to make any difference, I went ahead and had my confirmation. At the age of 16 I had a hallucination (which I think in retrospect was a coping mechanism to being forced to attend church), and it made me believe in God for a while. I became an atheist again at the age of 25.

PLH: Why do you feel it makes sense for an atheist to take a pro-life position on abortion?

Being pro-life is not about being Christian, being pro-life is about being human. I agree with the British Medical Association, and many others, who consider implantation as the beginning of a pregnancy, and therefore of a human life. I’m a Humanist, and in my opinion the right to life is the most basic human right. It is a conclusion everybody should be able to reach, regardless of their religion or absence of it.

PLH: Was there ever a time when you were pro-choice?

Frank: No, I’ve never supported abortion. In fact, when I first learned what abortion was, I associated it with conservatives – they were the ones waging wars, exploiting other countries and denying asylum to people who would be killed or who would starve in their own countries. I was shocked when I found out abortion’s advocacy came from the other side.
[PLH note: See interview with atheist pro-lifer Kristin Monohan who thought likewise about conservative vs liberal views on abortion]

PLH: Pro-lifers are certainly in the majority in Ireland, do you find it easy to be involved in pro-life activism as an atheist?

Frank: I have to admit that I don’t have a lot of contact with Irish pro-lifers, largely because of the religious rants that are most often involved. For a while I followed groups like Keep Ireland Pro-Life and Youth Defence, but most of their posts seem to pertain to Christian mythology in one way or another.   When I attended this year’s pro-life rally in Dublin I felt rather offended by their assumption that every pro-life protester there was a Christian. One of the speakers kept conjuring her deity with every sentence, saying such things as “We know that Christ died for us” or “We are here because God loves the unborn”.

PLH: Have you spoken with the leaders of these groups about how these assumptions make you feel excluded as a pro-life atheist?

Frank: Oh yes! I contacted the organizers afterwards and politely suggested they leave religion out of the discussion since it alienates non-religious pro-lifers. They replied they’d take it under advisement, but I’m not too optimistic. In general, and not only in Ireland, I get the impression that religious pro-life groups have a hard time believing atheists can be pro-life, simply because they have a hard time believing we can be at all moral. I even think that many of them want pro-life to remain an issue associated with Christianity, in order to claim moral superiority for their beliefs.

PLH: What about atheists? There are so few of you in Ireland. How do they feel about you breaking out of the typical mold by holding to a pro-life position?

Frank: Reactions to my position amongst atheists vary greatly. While some respect my views and others even understand them, I’ve also encountered militant abortion supporters who scream at me and tell me that as a male I don’t have the right to an opinion unless I agree with them.  I know one other atheist in Ireland who’s openly pro-life, and I met one atheist girl who is afraid to come out about being pro-life, and has only confided in me.

PLH: What do you believe to be the strongest of pro-life strategies?

Frank: Education. I think that most abortions are a case of ignorance. In my opinion, every mother considering an abortion should be confronted with abortion images like those produced by the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform. I’ve heard that many mothers who see pictures of aborted unborn children after the fact, change their mind about abortion and say they wouldn’t have done it if they’d known.

PLH: If people want to learn more about you and your pro-life and atheist views, where should they go?

Frank: Fans of poetry might enjoy my collection of atheist poems and my collection of pro-life poems
I’ve also written extensively on the History of Atheism, including a variety of  creative works on the topic of atheism.  Even more writings and photography on many topics, including abortion, can be found on my personal web-site.

PLH: Thanks for taking the time to introduce yourself to us, Frank!   We’ll look forward to helping you bring pro-life atheism to Ireland its neighbouring lands!

In the near future we will have Frank share with us about the status of abortion and pro-life activism in Ireland.  Be sure to check in often.  Good things always to come – including more interviews with even more awesome pro-life atheists!

Pro-Life Anti-Theist(Frank takes on an intellectual professorial look with his pipe and glasses)

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Meet the Pro-Life Atheists 1: Kristin Monahan

Meet the Pro-Life Atheists 1: Kristin Monahan

Posted by on Sep 16, 2013 in Pro-Life Atheists - Meet our family | 9 comments

Pro-Life Humanists wants to introduce you to our family! In the coming weeks we will feature the stories of pro-lifers who hold their convictions apart from any religious beliefs. This week you’re meeting Kristin Monahan.  She is a pro-life atheist and the first in our Meet the PLH Family series.

PLH-fam-Kristin-Monahan

PLH:  Kristin, you describe yourself as “a Liberal, Feminist, Atheist, Pro-Life rocker chick”.  Have you always been atheist?

Kristin: I would say that I’ve always been an atheist, even though I was never raised as an atheist.  My mom’s side of the family is entirely Mormon and we went to Mormon church when I was little, but luckily, we stopped going when I was 6 or 7. From then on, there wasn’t much religion in my life, other than hearing about it from my other family members, and what you see in the media, or friends talking about it here and there.  I started to realize I was an atheist when I was about 13 and first started hearing that there was such a thing; I realized it clicked with me.

PLH:  So you’ve sort of been a secret atheist since childhood.

Kristin:  Yes, though there were times while growing up when I was still trying to find myself and was dealing with coming out to myself as well as to my family and the world, where I may have “prayed”, in a sense, for “god” to help me find an item I’d lost in my room, or when I’d answer “Christian?” when asked what my religion was… but really, I honestly never believed any of it.  That is why I say I was always an atheist. It was just “monkey see monkey do” until I was ready to come out.

PLH:  Did you find it hard to come out as an atheist?

Kristin: It is hard because you feel like the whole world is against you.  As you know, atheism is still looked down upon and is not that common even today, so you can image that people saying things like  “I don’t care what religion you are, as long as you have one” or sitcoms that talk about god and act like it’s so horrible if someone doesn’t believe… those things can really stick with a kid and make it so much harder to be out with it –  to yourself as well as to everyone else.

I would say people are right though, at least in my experience, when they say it gets easier and easier to be out as an atheist. When I first started saying it, my mom tried to convince me that I was agnostic… I think she really just didn’t want me to be an atheist, so she figured if she could convince me I was just agnostic, that could be like some sort of compromise.  Now, I’m happy to say, my heart doesn’t beat really fast and I don’t get really nervous when I say I’m an atheist.

PLH:  Tell me about being pro-life.  How did that come about?

Kristin:  I was about 14 when I asked my mom what abortion was, because I had heard the word a few times. When she told me, I immediately knew I was against it and I couldn’t believe a thing like that existed!   I should also mention that I have always been a feminist and a liberal and I was 13 when I realized just how liberal I was.   Learning about abortion, I was certain that it could never be a liberal thing since it goes against everything that liberalism stands for: all the helping the poor, the innocent, the downtrodden, the underdogs, the helpless and voiceless, the weak, the vulnerable… Since I happen to fit in perfectly on the left, of course I was against this as well.  I assumed abortion was something conservative deadbeat dads created so that they wouldn’t have to take care of their responsibilities, and to keep women down.  As a female, I couldn’t imagine women ever going for this sort of thing, so I started off assuming bad men must have come up with it.

PLH:  You must have been in for quite a shock when you found out most feminist liberals actually advocate for abortion?

Kristin:  Somewhere along the way, my mother and brother told me it was a conservative thing to be pro-life, and a liberal and feminist thing to be pro-choice. I thought they were joking, of course!  Unfortunately, as time went on, I realized the stereotypes were true, but I never let that change my views – by then I’d already formed my liberal and feminist ideals against abortion.  To me, abortion really reinforces those old-fashioned gender stereotypes by saying that because the woman is the mother and is the one to get pregnant, she has to choose and it has to be all on her.

PLH:  How do your fellow atheist peers respond when they learn that you’re pro-life?

Kristin: It can be weird to have pro-life-bashing posts show up on your favorite atheist or liberal pages.  You try to correct them but their comments are full of stereotypes and they either won’t listen or they automatically think you are bad because you are pro-life.  I guess one thing though is that you get to laugh to yourself and say “Yeah, well I’m an atheist…” when they tell you to keep your religion out of it.

PLH:  How about pro-lifers?  How have traditional pro-lifers in your circles responded to having an atheist in their ranks?

Kristin:  It can be hard with the pro-lifers too.  But funny enough, it seems like they may be more accepting of me, even though we only agree on one thing, than are the liberals who are a lot more like me outside of this one thing.  There are still the ones who’ll always talk about god, those who say they should not be accepting non-religious pro-lifers, or those who say they should accept us just because then they can turn us to religion over time.  I find that offensive.  Please don’t do that, people!   What if we said we wanted to turn you atheist and “save” you?

PLH:  What would you say to your atheist peers and free-thinking friends who are pro-choice?

Kristin:  I always hear people say they are pro-choice or at least hate pro-lifers or have a bad view of the whole pro-life thing because of the crazy conservative religious ones or the ones who bomb abortion clinics… I really would like it if people weren’t influenced by things like that.  You shouldn’t let your view of something be defined by what other people who hold a particular position do or say or think.  We are all individuals, and there will be crazies and ignorant people on all sides of any issue. 

There are lives at stake here.  That’s why I still call myself pro-life while being an atheist, liberal, and feminist.  I definitely know what it is like to feel like an outcast, but things will always be better if you’re true to yourself.  Don’t let anyone tell you that people on your side are supposed to be like this or like that.

PLH:  If you could say one thing to your theistic pro-life peers what would it be?

Kristin:  There is the fact that people tend to brush off the pro-life side because of people using religious arguments.  Even religious people can use secular arguments against abortion.  We have science on our side –  you don’t need to bring in religion –  especially when it causes the non-religious to not take you seriously.   It shouldn’t be that hard to only argue with science and empathy toward the young… Imagine if people suddenly started using mainly religion to argue against murder in general, stereotyping people who hate murder as “religious people trying to make you abide by their religion”, and if religious people who hate murder were trying to kick non-religious people who hate murder out of their ranks, or only accepted them if they thought they might eventually convert to their religion.  Obviously atheists and non-religious people think standard murder is wrong, so why act like you have to be religious in order to think killing the unborn is wrong?

PLH:  And on that brilliant note, Kristin,  our “Liberal, Feminist, Atheist, Pro-Life rocker chick”, do you have any final words for us? 

Kristin:  Yeah, I actually just started a blog with that name in case anyone is interested: http://riotgrrrlsforlifeprolife.blogspot.com/

PLH:  I’ve seen it and there’s some awesome stuff there!  We’ll look forward to having you guest blog with PLH in the future.  Thanks for being a part of the Pro-Life Humanists family, Kristin!

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