The purge of pro-life sponsors from the Women’s March on Washington offered pro-life feminists a choice: Protest the organizers’ decision to exclude them or stay silent.
It is one thing that the march provided speaking slots exclusively to pro-choice women, and another that abortion access was visibly a key issue for most of the marchers. But the organizers erased all ambiguity by forcing pro-life groups out. Forget that pro-life feminists claim to support the sanctity of life — here, all they had to do was stand up for the basic principle of inclusion.
Many, however, opted not to, including progressive Christian leaders who buried their objections to abortion and praised the march more or less unreservedly.
In case you haven’t heard, intersectionality is a prominent new framework for feminism. It purports to represent different identities and their intersecting concerns, such as race and gender identity. Since religion is also treated as one of these intersections, some Christians have made the mistake of thinking that their views could be treated as equal, but intersectional leaders place pro-life women in the category of oppressors.
Episcopal priest Broderick Greer espouses the belief that pro-life views are oppressive. In some ways, Greer exists on the fringe of American Christianity, but he is treated as a legitimate voice even outside his pro-choice denomination. The Christian magazine Sojourners has quoted him, including in a recent piece on intersectionality, and he has written for the Washington Post and the Guardian. He has clout, and he uses it to demonize pro-lifers, even as he’s lauded by many progressive Christians.
It’s now common for progressive Christians to prioritize intersectional-feminist doctrine over the pro-life cause, even if they claim to support life. The fuzzy logic of intersectional feminism links oppression to the pro-life cause, and that motivates others to relax their opposition to abortion.
As expected among progressive Christians, Sojourners has recently focused its energy on social-justice causes popular on the left, from LGBT rights to the Dakota Access Pipeline. It has previously published qualified objections to Planned Parenthood’s abortions, and has tried to maintain pro-life bona fides as a faith-based publication.
But as the women’s march has come to a close and Friday’s March for Life approaches, recent Sojourners stories praise the former and say nothing about the latter. Sojourners has an entire series, “Why I Am Marching,” that showcases readers’ essays about attending the march to stand up for women’s rights. It has not published any essays critiquing the ethics of the march, and barely mentioned the hostility and exclusion faced by pro-life feminists who attended, some of whom were spat on.
The feminist movement exercises power by legitimizing pro-choice zealotry, even to Christians who should be reluctant to join abortion absolutists. Bestselling author Rachel Held Evans has expressed pro-life views as a Christian feminist, but lately she has had a lot more to say about gay, transgender, and intersectional issues than she has about unborn life. She praised the women’s march with little reservation, and even called out fellow Christian author Karen Swallow Prior for merely saying that “pussy hats” sounded silly on Twitter.
Prior tells National Review that intersectionality’s ability to unify is called into question by such interactions. “One of the prominent images from the march — the ‘pussy hat’ — ended up being more divisive than unifying because not all that identify as women have female genitalia,” she said. “This sort of incoherence signals the implosion of a worldview.”
If that implosion is coming, silencing dissenters will only hasten it. But intersectional feminism is all the rage, so traditional doctrinal claims are being pushed out of the discussion among progressive Christians who want to be on the “right side of history.”
Regardless of one’s faith, it’s clear how deeply intersectional ideas have sunk in on the left.
Regardless of one’s faith, it’s clear how deeply intersectional ideas have sunk in on the left. “The majority of Americans favor significant restrictions on abortion,” Prior points out. “And 41 percent of American women are pro-life. That’s a lot of women to leave out of a march that claims to be for women.”
It should be perfectly clear that the women’s march is hurting its credibility by purging pro-life groups. Perhaps more so, progressive Christians are hurting their own credibility by refusing to stand up to the exclusion of their views.
But they could demonstrate that they are not kowtowing to the abortion industry by the way they approach the March for Life tomorrow. That march is open to people with a wide range of beliefs who simply agree about the right to life. It will probably not receive the fawning media coverage that the women’s march got, but progressive Christians should at least give it a passing glance.