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Op-ed: Christian nationalism is a threat

As I write, the state legislature of West Virginia is in special session with the Republican majority trying to ram through legislation that constitutes nothing less than a total ban on abortion. Attempts are being made to split hairs about how to define a medical emergency for the pregnant person, but with providers facing a potential felony charge and 3-10 years imprisonment, how often do you really think any physician capable of providing abortion care is going to navigate the legal labyrinth and follow through? The only exception to rape and incest is for up to 14 weeks gestation with police reporting and medical proof requirements. Sure, let’s just compound the trauma and put the onus on the victim.

Let’s consider “rape or incest” for a moment. Those words get tossed around any time abortion is debated, but does anyone ever stop and think of the unspeakable trauma involved when one is raped or of the life-long suffering bestowed upon a child who is a product of even a consensual incestuous relationship by close family members? When it comes to this Republican majority in the legislature, “stop and think” is something they’re obviously incapable of, along with empathy and basic human decency.

A majority of the Supreme Court of the United States decided to toss abortion rights back to the states and their defenders act as though this was a perfectly reasonable decision that was not motivated by ideology of any kind, which is complete nonsense and even these defenders know it. To quote Linda Greenhouse writing for The New York Times:

“Does anyone really think it [the court’s decision] was motivated by disapproval of the court’s reliance in Roe v. Wade on substantive due process, an interpretation of the 14th Amendment that accords meaning to the word ‘liberty’ in the due process clause? Is there anyone who believes that if only the Constitution had included the word ‘abortion,’ the anti-abortion movement would have failed to gain political traction?

(Although the Dobbs majority treated the absence of the A-word in the Constitution as nearly fatal to Roe all by itself, it is worth observing that the Constitution’s 7,600 words, including its 27 amendments, contain neither the word ‘fetus’ nor ‘unborn.’)”

There is no question as to what motivated the court’s Dobbs decision: Christian nationalism. The belief system of these black-robed megalomaniacs informed their decision that persons capable of becoming pregnant have no bodily autonomy or personal sovereignty over their own reproductive systems and that government, therefore, has the right to deprive them of these core parts of being human. The same belief system is motivating the Republican majority in the West Virginia State Legislature.

The ridiculousness of this belief system doesn’t stop there, either. State Sen. Mike Azinger, R-Wood, recently held up a meeting of the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability to ask State Superintendent Clayton Burch, who was presenting on deaf and blind student education, if the State Board has a policy on cross-dressing teachers. Azinger said in an interview after the meeting that “I think that’s pretty self-evident that, you know, somebody that doesn’t dress according to their own biological sex, that there’s some kind of spiritual or mental problem there.” Apparently, it’s blue for biological boys and pink for biological girls or Azinger’s god gets angry.

Azinger has decided that antiquated societal gender norms based on a lack of biological understanding among adherents is justified by his religion and he just had to waste important meeting time to express that, he couldn’t help himself. Just like he couldn’t help but go to D.C. at Trump’s invite to support a blatant attempt to overturn the results of a free and fair, democratic election (though evidence to date suggests he at least avoided participating in the destruction of our national seat of government, something a previous Parkersburg City Councilman engaged in with his best army surplus gear).

Christian nationalism is a direct threat to our secular constitutional democratic republic and to the health, safety and lives of anyone who does not conform to the willfully ignorant worldview of Christian nationalists. If you do not support complete and everlasting separation of church and state, do not pretend to support our nation’s highest ideals. Forced birth and theocracy are not conducive to liberty and justice for all.

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Eric Engle is assistant state director for American Atheists in West Virginia.

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