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!
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!