Tag Archives: Human Rights

Awakening the “moral sense” of the public in the abortion debate


Young pro-life women protest Planned Parenthood
Young pro-life women protest Planned Parenthood

Scott Klusendorf linked to this article from the Public Discourse. The article talks about the need to augment logical arguments in other ways in order to awaken the moral sense of the public so that they will support the pro-life cause and vote to repeal pro-abortion laws.


In a manner similar to the case of slavery as outlined by Douglass, there are two simple points that, once admitted, join to condemn clearly the practice of abortion: (1) the embryo is a human being from the moment of conception, and (2) all human beings have a natural right to life.

The second point, as in the case of the natural right to liberty, doesn’t require serious argument on the level of ordinary judgment, even though many pro-choice philosophers have tried to argue that only persons have a right to life, and the unborn, in their view, aren’t persons. To make such arguments, however, requires choosing an arbitrary cut-off point for personhood, as pro-life philosophers such as George, Tollefsen, and Lee have shown.

The first point is more often chosen as promising ground for challenges, but it too is plainly obvious to the unbiased mind.

Once conception occurs, the embryo is something other than the woman who carries it. The fact that the embryo requires the mother’s body to live is no argument against this—dependence does not exclude otherness, otherwise none of us would be distinguishable from everyone and everything else in the world upon which we depend in innumerable ways. The embryo is obviously something other than a part of the mother, but what is it?

This is where it gets easy, despite the messy, abstract philosophical arguments. The more appropriate version of the question is the following: What else could it be besides a human being? Is there a single example in natural history of sexual intercourse between two individuals of the same species resulting in something other than another individual of that species? Is it plausible to guess that sexual intercourse between two human beings might result in a fish, at least initially? Or maybe a frog? Such speculation is entirely fanciful and runs directly contrary to our experience of the world since the beginning of recorded history.

It should be obvious to anyone that the two points hold, and that the embryo is a human being possessing a natural right to life from the moment of its conception. The problem is that the younger and less developed the embryo is, the less it excites what some have called our “moral sense,” our sympathy with it as another human being like us. And as Hume correctly notes, human beings tend to be moved more by their passions and feelings, including the so-called “moral sense,” than by their intellectual understanding of the world when determining their actions. Even if our reason and common sense tell us clearly—as they undoubtedly do—that the embryo is a human being with the right to life, our moral sense or sympathy lets us off the hook.

So where does this leave pro-life advocates? How can we bridge the Humean—and human—gap between intellectual understanding and actual practice in our nation? The answer lies in the parallel between the issue of abortion and those of slavery and subsequent civil rights. The pro-life movement needs to model more closely in its organization and practices the antebellum abolition movement and the civil rights movement in order to achieve similar success in ending the evil of abortion. It needs to take up the mantle of these causes in a manner beyond rhetorical parallel or intellectual analogy and be prepared to undergo similar hardships before achieving its goals.

Both of these historical movements ultimately succeeded not by winning arguments, but by awakening the moral sense or conscience of a majority of the nation. Legislation relating to the provision of an ultrasound prior to an abortion, currently in place in some form in more than twenty states, is very well suited to this purpose. The dissemination of graphic images relating to abortion procedures, though controversial in pro-life circles, is also highly appropriate to this purpose.

The civil rights movement was driven forward significantly by television and photographic coverage of the inhuman treatment of protestors, as well as the publication of vivid written reports of racially motivated cruelties. Moral senses or sympathies are sparked most effectively by distasteful, unsettling, and shocking information; and when intellectual argument has had its day in trying to awaken consciences and has shown itself insufficient, recourse must be had to the level of moral sense and feeling.

There can be no doubt that pro-lifers are the abolitionists of this generation, urging the powerful not to take advantage of the powerless.

This reminds me about the story of Emmett Till. Have you heard of that? Here it is explained in a letter from Gregg Cunningham of CBR, a pro-life group.


Many pro-lifers have heard about Emmett Till, the fourteen-year-old black boy from Chicago who, while visiting relatives in Mississippi, was tortured to death, allegedly for whistling at a white woman (or bidding her farewell with a flippant “bye baby” – accounts vary). But this tragic civil rights story offers more lessons for effective pro-life activism than is generally understood.

BlackPressUSA.com, August 27, 2001, reported in a story entitled “1955 – Emmett Till Killed in Mississippi” that Emmett’s mother “had insisted that the casket be opened when it arrived in Chicago, although it had been sealed when it left Mississippi.” There was a reason that authorities in Mississippi did not want the world to see the body of Emmett Till.

The Washington Post, August 28, 2005, published a story on the legacy of Emmett Till entitled “Dead End,” with a subhead which read “On the Trail of a Civil Rights Icon, Starting Where He Did”:

…Ahmed A. Rayner Sr., … prepared Emmett’s body for services after it was pulled from the Tallahatchie River – with a cotton-gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. Tortured and bruised, with most of his teeth missing, his remains were returned in a sealed box on a train to Chicago.

Ahmed Rayner is dead and the family-owned funeral home is run by his granddaughter [Pamela Rayner].

[…]‘I remember him saying that he had to do something because the way that he [Emmett] was brought up here, he looked so bad that it would probably scare most of the people,’ says Rayner. There was the eye that her grandfather had to put back into Till’s head and the fixing of his swollen tongue that hung out of his mouth – the stitching and patchwork to make the boy presentable in a glass-covered casket.

There was also a reason that Emmett’s mother demanded the unsealing of the crate in which the condition of her son’s body had been hidden:

‘After the body arrived I knew I had to look and see and make sure it was Emmett. That was when I decided that I wanted the whole world to see what I had seen. There was no way I could describe what was in that box. No way. And I just wanted the world to see.’ (BlackPressUSA.com, February 21, 2001, ‘A Disturbing Picture’)

Sounds a lot like abortion: no way it can be described; vital that we show the world how horrifying it looks.

I think the right approach is to give the arguments and the evidence first, and then to show the ultrasound images or the graphical images second (warning people to look away if they are squeamish, first). This is the way that moral people have always argued against injustices. If it worked to change minds then, then it will probably work to change minds now, too. For my own part, I’ve chose not to engage in sexual behavior at all until I am in a position where I can welcome a child into the world. I want to give my future children a safe environment with a committed mother and father. And if I have to give up short-term recreation in order to avoid putting myself in a situation where abortion might be a temptation, then that’s what I’m going to do. It’s called acting responsibly.

Big government working with gay rights groups to punish Christians

Obama speaks to the Human Rights Campaign
Obama speaks to the Human Rights Campaign

Here is a story from The Daily Signal about the Christian bakers who are being sued for $135,000 for refusing to bake a gay couple a wedding cake.


The Daily Signal has exclusively learned that the government agency responsible for enforcing Oregon’s anti-discrimination law appears to be working closely with a powerful gay rights advocacy group in its case against Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa.

Communications between the agency, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, and the LGBT organization, Basic Rights Oregon, raise questions about potential bias in the state’s decision to charge the Kleins with discrimination for refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.

In April, a judge for the agency recommended the Kleins be fined $135,000.

Communications obtained through a public records request show employees of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries—which pursued the case against the Kleins—participating in phone calls, texting, and attending meetings with Basic Rights Oregon, the largest LGBT advocacy group in the state.

[…][T]he Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries commissioner, who is in charge of determining the Kleins’ final punishment, met with Basic Rights Oregon on multiple occasions and purchased tickets costing hundreds of dollars benefiting the advocacy group.

[…]Communications between Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner Brad Avakian and Basic Rights Oregon, which has actively spoken out against the Kleins, raise questions about whether the commissioner and other agency employees were using the case to benefit a political agenda, and in the process, stripping the Kleins of their right to a fair trial.

According to emails, Avakian met with Basic Rights Oregon on multiple occasions.

One of those meetings was planned for May 1, 2014, shortly before a federal court struck down Oregon’s Defense of Marriage Act.

Another meeting between the commissioner and Basic Rights Oregon occurred on or around August 5, 2014. This fell between the time a judge denied the Kleins’ first attempt to disqualify the commissioner for bias and shortly before a hearing for the case was scheduled to begin.

So the government, which is supposed to be fair to everyone, is actually collaborating with advocacy groups to punish those who disagree with the advocacy groups. It reminds me of the targeting of Tea Party groups by the IRS. Big government, which is funded by the taxpayers, using their power to coerce and punish taxpayers.

Related to this story, I found another story in The Public Discourse, about how the Obama administration appointed gay rights activists to push the gay agenda in the public schools.


Through his executive appointments, President Obama has helped expose American schoolchildren to activism that places them at risk.

On May 19, 2009, a few short months after his inauguration, Obama gave the green light to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to appoint Kevin Jennings to a top position to influence school policy: the post of Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, also known as the “safe schools czar.” Jennings, a powerful LGBT rights activist who is himself a gay man, was the founder of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). GLSEN is one of the largest LGBT activist organizations in the nation and is devoted to promoting homosexuality in K-12 schools. Jennings served as “safe schools czar” from 2009-2011.

Given his connection with the organization, we should not be shocked to discover that GLSEN received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control in 2011 for $1.425 million over five years to promote the LGBT agenda in public schools at taxpayers’ expense. Through these publicly funded in-school programs, kids are being bombarded with the message that same-sex attraction and gender-identity confusion are innate and therefore not changeable.

[…]GLSEN knows that the elementary years are a prime opportunity to encourage kids to reject the values of their parents. The handbook outlines a variety of activities that gradually introduce and reinforce the messages that gender is a social construct, that moms and dads are interchangeable, and that anyone who says otherwise is hateful and prejudiced.

Along with lessons designed to help kindergarten through fifth-graders to “explore the definition of a family and to understand that there are a variety of family structures” and to “challenge their own and other’s [sic] assumptions about gender and gender roles,” the guide recommends a variety of books and videos to help cement the lessons.

Just think about how people on the secular left were so loud and passionate about pushing for separation of church and state, blocking even the slightest hint of free expression of religion. They didn’t want even a hint of government support for Christianity, and not a speck of Christianity in the public schools. But when the shoe is on the other foot, and the left is in power, they are only too happy to push their agenda in the schools and from the government-run censorship panels.

Can atheists condemn slavery as immoral? Do atheists believe that slavery is wrong?

Note: For a Christian response to the complaint that the Bible doesn’t condemn slavery, see this article and this article for slavery in the Old Testament, and this article for slavery in the New Testament. These are all by Christian philosopher Paul Copan. You can watch a lecture with Paul Copan on the slavery challenge here, and buy a book where he answers the challenge in more detail. There is also a good debate on whether the Bible condones slavery here, featuring David Instone-Brewer and Robert Price. My post is not a formal logical essay on this issue, it is more that I am outraged that atheists, who cannot even rationally ground objective morality, insist on criticizing the morality of the Bible. I think that atheists who are serious about finding the truth about these issues should check out those links, if they are interested in getting to the truth of these matters.

In other posts, I’ve argued that without an objective moral standard of what is right and wrong, any judgments about right and wrong are just individual opinions. So, when an atheist says slavery is wrong, what he really means is that he thinks slavery is wrong for him, in the same way that he thinks that,say, that chocolate ice cream is right for him. He isn’t saying what is wrong objectively, because on atheism there are no objective moral rules or duties. He is speaking for himself: “I wouldn’t own a slave, just like I wouldn’t eat broccoli – because it’s yucky!”. But he has no rational argument against other people owning slaves in other times and places, because their justification for owning slaves is the same as his justification for not owning slaves : personal preference and cultural conventions.

So do atheists oppose slavery? Do they believe in an objective human right to liberty? Well, there are no objective human rights of any kind on atheism. Human beings are just accidents in an accidental universe, and collections of atoms do not mysteriously accrue “rights”. There is no natural right to liberty on atheism. Now consider abortion, which is favored by most atheists. Like slavery, abortion declares an entire class of human beings as non-persons in order to justify preserving their own happiness and prosperity by means of violence. That’s exactly what slavery does, except abortion is worse than slavery, because you actually kill the person you are declaring as a non-person instead of just imprisoning them.

So how many atheists have this pro-abortion view that it is OK to declare unborn children  as non-persons so they can kill them?

Well, according to Gallup, the “non-religious” are the group most likely to support abortion. In fact, 68% favor legalized abortion, compared to only 19% who oppose it.

Take a look at the Gallup poll data from 2012:

Atheists are OK with the strong killing the weak
Most atheists are OK with the strong killing the weak

The Gallup numbers might actually be low, because “No religion” might include people who are spiritual, but not religious. But what about atheists alone?

As a group, atheists tend to be among the most radical supporters of legalized abortion. The Secular Census of 2012 found that 97% of atheists vote for abortion. There are almost no pro-life atheists. Why is it that atheists look at unborn children and think it’s OK to kill them? Well, let’s see what atheists scholars think about morality, and from that we’ll find out why they think abortion is morally permissible.

Atheist scholars think morality is nonsense

Atheist William Provine says atheists have no free will, no moral accountability and no moral significance:

Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear — and these are basically Darwin’s views. There are no gods, no purposes, and no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end of me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will for humans, either.

Source: http://www.arn.org/docs/orpages/or161/161main.htm

Atheists Michael Ruse says atheists have no objective moral standards:

The position of the modern evolutionist is that humans have an awareness of morality because such an awareness of biological worth. Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth. Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate when someone says, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves. Nevertheless, such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction, . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory.(Michael Ruse, “Evolutionary Theory and Christian Ethics,” in The Darwinian Paradigm (London: Routledge, 1989), pp. 262-269).

Atheist Richard Dawkins says atheists have no objective moral standards:

In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, or any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference… DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. (Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (1995))

Most atheists are like this – although some affirm objective morality, without really having a rational basis for it. In general though, when atheists use moral language to condemn God, the Bible, or Christians, it’s very important to understand that it is just theater. They are trying to use words that describe realities that they do not even believe in, usually with the goal of getting you to stop judging them for their own sin. I blogged about two examples of this before – Richard Carrier and Michael Shermer.

Let’s take a closer look at Richard Dawkins’ statement that there is “no evil and no good”.

Richard Dawkins and morality

Here’s Richard Dawkins’ view of abortion:

Richard Dawkins explains morality on atheism
Richard Dawkins explains morality on atheism

But wait! He goes even further than mere abortion:

Dawkins believes in Darwinian evolution. Survival of the fittest. The strong kill the weak. Where is protection for the unborn in that narrative?

Richard Dawkins even advocates for adultery.

So, what Dawkins really believes is that morality is nonsense. But in order to get you to stop condemning abortion, adultery, infanticide and a whole host of other atheistic misbehaviors, he will try to condemn you using moral language to stop you from making moral judgments. But the goal here is to intimidate you into not judging. By his own words, he thinks that the whole notion of objective moral values and objective moral duties is just nonsense.

Who does oppose slavery?

How did slavery end?

Dinesh D’Souza explains:

Slavery was mostly eradicated from Western civilization–then called Christendom–between the fourth and the tenth century. The Greco-Roman institution of slavery gave way to serfdom. Now serfdom has its problems but at least the serf is not a “human tool” and cannot be bought and sold like property. So slavery was ended twice in Western civilization, first in the medieval era and then again in the modern era.

In the American South, Christianity proved to be the solace of the oppressed. As historian Eugene Genovese documents in Roll, Jordan, Roll, when black slaves sought to find dignity during the dark night of slavery, they didn’t turn to Marcus Aurelius or David Hume; they turned to the Bible. When they sought hope and inspiration for liberation, they found it not in Voltaire or D’Holbach but in the Book of Exodus.

The anti-slavery movements led by Wilberforce in England and abolitionists in America were dominated by Christians. These believers reasoned that since we are all created equal in the eyes of God, no one has the right to rule another without consent. This is the moral basis not only of anti-slavery but also of democracy.

And, in fact, you can see Christians pushing the culture hard against abortion today, just as we did with slavery. We also oppose frivolous divorce, and redefining marriage in a way that normalizes removing mothers and/or fathers away from their children. Defending the weak is what we do.

Can the secular left rationally ground human rights like freedom of speech?

Cheryle Abatte, Marquette University
Cheryle Abatte, Marquette University

Let’s start this post with an example of the secular left trampling natural rights.

Here’s the story from the College Fix:

It has been a rough three months for Marquette University professor and acerbic blogger John McAdams.

Because McAdams criticized a graduate teaching instructor for silencing an undergraduate owing to his traditional views on marriage, the school informed him last week his tenure is being revoked and he’ll be fired.

Though academic observers debated whether McAdams should have named and shamed now-former Marquette grad student Cheryl Abbate – which led to his temporary banishment from campus and canceled classes – even McAdams’ critics are warning the university it’s setting a terrible precedent.

They didn’t fire the grad student for telling her student that pro-marriage views were not welcome at a Catholic university. They fired the professor who made that threat conversation public. The student is not the victim of discrimination, the administrators said – the real victim is the left-wing fascist grad student.

Like I said before, make sure you have money saved when they come after you, because you might as well trust in the tameness of a wolf than the morality of a leftist university administrator. That’s the real lesson for Christians from stories like this.

So why is it that people on the left don’t respect natural rights like the right to free speech?

Well, it’s because human rights are NOT rationally grounded in the atheistic worldview that dominates the university.

Frank Turek explains in The Stream.

He writes:

Atheist Richard Dawkins has declared, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind pitiless indifference. . . . DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music.”

But Dawkins doesn’t act like he actually believes that. He recently affirmed that a woman has the right to choose an abortion and asserted that it would be “immoral” to give birth to a baby with Down syndrome. According to Dawkins, the “right to choose” is a good thing and giving birth to Down Syndrome children is a bad thing.

Well, which is it? Are there really good and evil, or are we just moist robots dancing to the music of our DNA?

Atheists like Dawkins are often ardent supporters of rights to abortion, same-sex marriage, taxpayer-provided healthcare, welfare, contraceptives, and several other entitlements. But who says those are rights? By what objective standard are abortion, same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption, taxpayer-provided healthcare, and the like, moral rights? There isn’t such a standard in the materialistic universe of atheism. So atheists must steal the grounds for objective moral rights from God while arguing that God doesn’t exist.

[…]Atheists are caught in a dilemma. To simplify a bit, if God doesn’t exist, then everything is a matter of human opinion and objective moral rights don’t exist, including all those that atheists support. If God does exist, then objective moral rights exist. But those rights clearly don’t include cutting up babies in the womb, same-sex marriage, and their other invented absolutes contrary to every major religion and natural law.

Now, an atheist might say, “In our country, we have a constitution that the majority approved. We have no need to appeal to God.” True, you don’t have to appeal to God to write laws, but you do have to appeal to God if you want to ground them in anything other than human opinion. Otherwise, your “rights” are mere preferences that can be voted out of existence at the ballot box or at the whim of an activist judge or dictator. That’s why our Declaration of Independence grounds our rights in the Creator. It recognizes the fact that even if someone changes the law or the political order you still have certain rights because they come from God, not man.

However, my point isn’t about how we should put objective God-given rights into human law. My point is, without God there are no objective human rights. There is no right to abortion or same-sex marriage. Of course, without God there is no right to life or natural marriage either!

In other words, no matter what side of the political aisle you’re on — no matter how passionate you believe in certain causes or rights — without God they would be without foundation. Human rights would amount to no more than your subjective preferences. So atheists can believe in and fight for rights to abortion, same-sex marriage, and taxpayer-provided entitlements, but they can’t justify them as truly being rights.

So although they may be willing to assume natural rights when pushing their own pet causes, those rights are not rationally grounded, and they will disappear when they have to decide what to do with people they don’t like. That’s why atheists like Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were responsible for killing tens of millions of inconvenient people. That’s why atheists are at the forefront of the abortion cause today. They can’t ground natural rights, and when push comes to shove, they shove them aside in order to get their way. It starts out with the thrusting aside of free speech, and then it goes on to the right to life for the unborn, then the right to life of the born. When stressed, secular leftists will act in line with their own convictions. (Or lack thereof)

Host a same-sex wedding on your property or pay a $13,000 fine

From the Daily Signal.


Should the government be able to coerce a family farm into hosting a same-sex wedding?

In a free society, the answer is no. Family farms should be free to operate in accordance with the beliefs and values of their owners. Government shouldn’t be able to fine citizens for acting in the market according to their own—rather than the government’s—values, unless there is a compelling government interest being pursued in the least restrictive way possible.

But the New York State Division of Human Rights doesn’t see things this way. On August 8, it fined Cynthia and Robert Gifford $13,000 for acting on their belief that marriage is the union of a man and woman and thus declining to rent out their family farm for a same-sex wedding celebration. The Human Rights Commission ruled that “the nature and circumstances of the [Giffords’s] violation of the Human Rights Law also warrants a penalty.”

[…]Here’s the back story. In 2012, Melissa Erwin and Jennie McCarthy contacted the Giffords to rent the family’s barn for their same-sex wedding ceremony and reception. Cynthia Gifford responded that she and her husband would have to decline their request as they felt they could not in good conscience host a same-sex wedding ceremony at their home. The Giffords live on the second and third floor of the barn and, when they host weddings on the first floor, they open part of the second floor as a bridal suite.

[…][The Giffords] do not object to gay or lesbian customers attending the fall festivals, or going berry picking, or doing any of the other activities that the farm facilitates. The Giffords’ only objection is to being forced to abide by the government’s views on sexuality and host a same-sex wedding. The Human Rights Commission has now declared this historic belief about marriage to be “discrimination.”

The Giffords must pay a $1,500 mental anguish fine to each of the women and pay $10,000 in civil damages penalty to New York State. If they can’t pay in 60 days, a nine percent interest rate will be added to that total. Like Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, the Giffords must also institute anti-discriminationre-education classes and procedures for their staff.

How would gay marriage affect your marriage? Well, you would have to go to court, be found guilty, be re-educated, pay the gay people you offended, and then pay the government for punishing you. And remember, you’re already paying for the government to prosecute you for your views on marriage every time you pay taxes. We pay the salaries of our own executioners. How did it come to this?

Well, may I suggest that Christian pastors who drive a wedge of separation between the Christian faith and public knowledge are to blame. What I find in church is that pastors preach the same shallow gospel sermon every week, week in and week out. Everything is assumed to be true without examination, no alternatives or critical viewpoints are presented and defeated, and nothing in the sermon is ever connected to evidence in the real world. There is no emphasis on defining the Christian worldview, or on criticizing other worldviews like postmodernism, naturalism, pluralism or relativism. It’s all mystical privatized fundamentalist anti-intellectual emotional piety.

The net result of this is that when Christians go out into the world, they are not equipped to discern the dangers posed by non-Christian ideologies, and they often vote for the very policies that later come back to destroy them – because secular leftists make their policies sound so nice. Who could be against “affordable health care” – until you realize that you’re going to be paying for someone else’s abortion drugs. Maybe pastors need to do a better job of connecting the Bible to real world knowledge and policies so that we don’t just retreat from the field and let secular leftists rule over us.