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: 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!