We saw another successful weekend of changing minds and rewriting people’s assumptions about prolifers, as Pro-Life Humanists tabled at Apostacon in Dallas, Texas this past weekend! Meeting pro-choice atheists one-on-one for relational exchanges and friendly discussion changes minds and influences many! I am more convinced of it with each new event I attend! People are infinitely friendlier and more receptive to one another when we’re not hiding in relative anonymity behind computer screens!This weekend’s atheist conference was our fifth this year! If you’ve missed the previous updates, here’s the brief summary: At the American Atheist Convention in Memphis, April 2015, I rubbed shoulders with leaders, speakers, and people of influence in the atheist community such as American Atheists leader David Silverman, “Science Babe”, Tracy Lockwood, David Smalley of Dogma Debate podcast… None of them became pro-life on the spot but they each walked away having had a friendly exchange with someone who was pro-life, and they’d been given a few reasons to rethink their views.
At the Denver Humanist convention in May I had similarly positive exchanges and conversations on abortion with leaders like Margaret Downey of the Freethought Society, Jennifer Bardi, editor of The Humanist magazine (both of whom I got to know in social settings and formed a friendly connection with) as well as with the current director of The American Humanist Society (“please tell me why you take this stance, cause for the life of me I don’t understand”) and with celebrity physicist Lawrence Krauss (whom I would meet again in Toronto in August). Better still: five people I’d met throughout the weekend changed their minds to pro-life at a post-conference social event, as we chatted over pizzas and drinks! Voice to voice, face to face – there’s power in that!
In Niagara/Buffalo at Center For Inquiry’s Reason for Change conference in early June, I made the existence of prolife atheists known (both in hanging out with him and other students before his talk, and during Q&A) to none other than celebrity scientist atheist Richard Dawkins!A short time later up in Canada at Toronto area’s Non-Conference in August, I had another exchange with Lawrence Krauss (he quite liked the prolife condoms), and had Q&A not been cut short, I would’ve been able to publicly respond to a general challenge/accusation he made toward pro-lifers during his speech. My conversation with Mr Deity, another well-known podcaster was also worth noting. Event after event, our fellow atheists are learning that not all secularists support abortion, and they are hearing good reasons to rethink their slogans! And now that you’re all caught up, you want to know: what did this past weekend’s presence at Apostacon yield? It began with an unsurpassable opportunity to share a restaurant table with celebrity magician & atheist Penn Jillette of the Las Vegas duo Penn & Teller (they’re also the stars and producers of a few fabulous TV series). Penn has previously expressed uncertainty about his views on abortion, suggesting that perhaps consciousness was the appropriate line to define a human being, so I was eager to meet him and ask him where he was at now. He was tired and didn’t say much, but he listened to another guy and I discuss for quite some time, and then he took a pamphlet and said “I’m sometimes asked whether I know any prolife atheists. Now I can say that I do.” Hopefully we’ll have the chance to chat again some time.
Throughout the weekend I met a large number of people who were ex-Christians/ex-Catholics who told me they had been prolife up until they left religion. They were surprised to hear that it was possible to leave faith and still be an advocate of human rights for the pre-born. I wonder just how many more atheists are out there who have left faith only to join the team of those advocating for abortion, simply because they never met any prolifers like us during their transitional season, and instead adapted their and thinking to that of the majority of their secular peers.
One young man I spoke with had likewise been pro-life in his youth but had become pro-choice after becoming atheist. He still had conflicting feelings about abortion but felt that development of the fetus mattered as far as whether or not it was ok to put the woman’s bodily rights above that of the fetus. He agreed that where we are doesn’t change what we are, and I gradually helped him see that how old we are (which is reflected in how dependent, under-developed and non-sentient we are as fetuses) doesn’t either. The preborn are highly dependent and non-sentient not because they’re non humans but because they’re very young humans. We know they’re human because of their genetic composition and who their parents are, and by the pattern according to which they are developing. As we discussed the right to die and compared fetuses to temporarily comatose patience, the element of lack of consent (which the assisted suicide patient can give, while a fetus in his current state cannot) really struck a chord and at last he said “Wow. I don’t have a response to that, so I guess you’ve changed my mind for now.” I look forward to staying in touch with him and answering any future questions/arguments that might arise! Another atheist becomes pro-life!
But I’ll never forget meeting Traci. I had stepped away from my info table for a few minutes to chat with one of the other exhibitors during a lull in traffic when all of a sudden I heard a loud shriek coming from my table. Walking back I inwardly braced myself in anticipation of the angry words that were about to fly my way, until I noticed the woman was smiling ear to ear! “This is amazing! There’s someone else who thinks like me?? I always cringe whenever speakers are cheering about abortion rights and I never realized there were others like me! This is SO awesome!” Traci immediately invited me to join her for diner and jumped in immediately by volunteering to help me cut the remaining labels for our “Thwart Don’t Abort” condoms. We also discovered a shared love for Doctor Who and a mutual conviction against routine infant circumcision (see ProLife Intactivists – there are a bunch of us!) I love this gal! Welcome to the PLH family, Traci! 😀 I love attending these conferences! I see many of the exhibitors, speakers and attendees repeatedly at different events and I know that their attitudes toward me and towards the pro-life position overall have changed as a result of the ongoing relationships being forged through these events. Pro-lifers used to be evil, small-minded religious bigots to them, but now they’ve danced, eaten and hung out with one who genuinely wants to help women and their children and to create a better world. Surely exchanges like these can’t help but make positive dents in our cultural landscape. I hope we can continue to have this degree of impact and more!
We’re a small group (pro-life secularists, atheists, humanists, agnostics and left-minded prolifers represent a very small portion of the pro-life community) and without you standing with us, this work cannot happen. Traditional pro-life Christians have routinely refused involvement with us on account of our non-Christian and leftist views, which means that it falls to you, our friends and allies in the more open-minded pro-life minority as well as our open-minded diversity-loving pro-choice atheist friends to ensure that pro-choice atheists can be regularly engaged on this issue and that children of pro-choice atheists can be given the chance at life. I invite you to partner with us and ensure that this work can continue.
Each event costs approximately $1000 $1500 to attend, including conference fees, info table fees and flights (no hotels or restaurants, I travel cheap via couch-surfing and grocery stores so our money is maximized!)
– 2 trail blazers willing to contribute $100 each
– 5 troopers able to contribute $50 each
– 20 awesome friends backing us with $25 each
– 10 fans loving us with $10 each
Can YOU be one of them and help make our next conference appearance happen? Can you be part of this novel outreach to a cultural group not being addressed in real-time dialog by any other organization? Can you help us achieve our next conference appearance where more minds can be changed? Any amount will help! Even $5 will collectively matter!
You can make a contribution via paypal or credit (click the button below) or email funds to donate [at sign] prolifehumanist.org) If you prefer the old-fashioned style, checks can be made out to ProLife Humanists 541 Parker Street, Gatineau, Quebec, J9H 4S3 Canada. Contributions can be set as a one-time gift of solidarity or as a monthly building block. Either way, we absolutely need you!
Many thanks for being a part of this! You’re on the cusp of a new wave in both the pro-life and the atheist/humanist community! 😀