The Unbelievably Annoying Problem of Christian Moral High Ground


Mary Eberstadt

Editor’s note: Christianity has been taking a beating for years now, with one tony atheist tome after another rolling off the presses — and still no end in sight.

And so far — with the exception of a Michael Novak here and a Dinesh D’Souza there — believers have largely turned the other cheek.

Now, finally, comes more payback — with THE LOSER LETTERS, a Screwtape for our screwed-up time.

In the latest round over God, Mary Eberstadt gets ready to catch up on National Review Online . .

Dear Distinguished Atheist Friends (that’s Lieber Herren Doktoren Atheisten Freunde auf Deutsch!),

Hi Everybody! It’s A.F. Christian here, reporting again from the front with some more super informed advice for Our new atheist Movement!

First up today, an exciting little announcement: As of this seventh Letter — that’s today’s — we’re about 70 percent through with my story about how this former Christian converted to atheism. Isn’t that great? Now on the other hand, that means there are still three more Letters to come after this one. And what that means is, writing in and complaining at this point that people don’t understand the plot here is kind of unfair. It’s like getting two thirds of the way through an episode of House, and calling up Hugh Laurie to complain that he hasn’t thought of Wegener’s Granulomatosis or Behcet’s Syndrome or Takayasu’s Arteritis yet! And who jumps the gun like that? How about nobody!

So please, just as if this were TV or YouTube, hang in there, folks! As those readers who have been following along know already, it’s not like the Letters are heavy lifting. They’re not some excruciosaurus brain-busting treatise about the Loser, or anything else. They just tell a little story, which is about what led me away from religion and toward Our phenomenal godlessness. I’m sure Everybody will find out in the end about whatever loose end in the story they’re wondering about — like why I’m taking Rosetta Stone German, and how I ended up in this crazy rehab run by the midget Director with the red cape, what finally happened with my crappy boyfriend Lobo, and the rest of the details about my turn to atheism. By the end of the series You’ll know all this and more, and No One will get a migraine getting from here to there, I pinky swear. Okey-dokey Guys?

Now back to serious atheist business!

Today’s subject concerns an idea that is absolutely critical to the success of Our godlessness: namely, how the believers’ capture of the moral high ground on certain issues — in particular, what they call the “life issues” — continues to deprive us atheists of the converts we deserve. I’ll start by discussing the particular leading “life” issue where they’ve left us Brights in the p.r. dust: i.e., abortion.

Now, let’s begin by noticing that there is such a thing as an atheist position on abortion — namely, that just about every Bright in history or currently in print is unanimously in favor of it. At first, I have admit, I didn’t quite get why Everybody should be so North-Korean-election lopsided about this. After all, we atheists are supposed to be Freethinkers. We do disagree about some important things, like — well, like nothing I can think of offhand, but I’m sure there’s something We don’t all think alike about, somewhere. This issue isn’t one of them, though. You can scour almost all contemporary works on Our side, and find not a Molecule of difference on the question of the morality of abortion.

It’s funny, isn’t it? Because even as recently as a few generations ago, at least a couple of people were apparently able to be atheists and anti-abortion at the same time. For example, two of the few influential Female atheists in history, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, were exactly that. Even Our spiritual anti-mother Margaret Sanger was apparently conflicted about the morality of abortion — or at least about abortions committed by white people. (Don’t worry! I would not ordinarily bring Margaret Sanger’s name into anything, at least not around the Dulls aware of Her work. We all know what a liability her flamboyant racism can be. See the excruciating NRO book excerpt by public enemy Jonah Goldberg this very week reminding Everybody of what we’d just as soon forget). For whatever reason, though, it appears that this kind of dissent in atheist thought just quit Evolving. By now, being anti-Loser is pretty much a proxy for being pro-abortion, and usually vice versa too.

Now, there seem to be two arguments for abortion on which today’s Brights unanimously agree. The first, which is simple enough, goes like this: Religious people, and only religious people, are against abortion; religious people are misled, and usually stupid; therefore, being against abortion is not something a Bright should be.