Sunday, November 02, 2008

McLaren concludes

In the fifth and final installment of his “why Obama is the Jesusness” series, pseudo-Christian putz Brian McLaren finally treats us to his pro-life case for Obama. It is one of the most egregiously dishonest strawman flayings I have seen since, well, his last installment. You know the drill. Excerpts, comments, all that jazz…

Some of my friends and relatives have been reading my reasons for voting for Barack Obama, but the issue of abortion is a major roadblock for them.

Here we meet McLaren's friends and relatives who, while persuaded by McLaren's extraordinary reasoning prior, are too myopic and obtuse to let go of the silly little abortion question.

Again and again over the last 30 years, Republican presidents and other politicians have used the issue of abortion to get elected and raise funds, but then, once in office, they have said little about abortion and done even less.

And Brian McLaren LOVES it when conservative politicians talk about abortion.

Some say that their silence doesn’t matter, because the only way abortion can be reduced is by electing presidents who will appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe vs. Wade.

No, the argument is that forcing the issue is moot in light of Roe v. Wade. Further, principled conservatives argue for a strict interpretation of the constitution, without which we all have something to worry about. But all those factors make it hard to demagogue the issue, so McLaren frames the argument thusly:

First, even if McCain were to win the election and appoint Supreme Court justices who would in fact overturn Roe vs. Wade, this move will not outlaw abortion, contrary to what many believe.

While McLaren's obtuse and myopic friends and relatives may not understand that overturning Roe v. Wade will not outlaw abortion, most conservatives understand this fact quite well.

It will only return the decision to the states, which raises this question: how many states lean toward criminalization? The answer: only sixteen states have at least 45% support for criminalizing abortion.

Even if I were to cede this argument, it does not refute my position, which is that reversing Roe v. Wade is the correct first step to eradicating abortion.

What would the impact of criminalization be in these sixteen states? Only ten percent of abortions occur in these states,

Over the course of ten years, this would result in more than one-million lives saved. But what’s a million people here or there? I mean, it’s not like they’re Iraqi civilians or anything.

and women desiring abortions would still be able to travel easily to a nearby state for an abortion.

Nobody desires an abortion, Brian. It just sorta happens to poor women, like mumps. That said, a court overturning Roe v. Wade would recognize the rights of the federal government to enforce laws against cross-state abortion traffic. If anything, this logic is affirmed by the Raich decision.

Would sincere and intelligent Evangelical and Catholic Christians

A group from which McLaren ironically distances himself with this statement.

How would they respond to the knowledge that we could likely achieve

Since when do “likely achievements” count as knowledge? A generous orthodoxy indeed.

more than a ten percent reduction in abortions by providing increased economic assistance and social support for pregnant women who are poor, since women in poverty have abortions at four times the rate of higher-income women?

McLaren here presents two facts. The first he just pulls out of his ass. The second is disingenuous. The "higher incomes" to which Brian refers are three times the poverty threshold. Women who make this salary are either old or married, and so their disinclination to have abortions is easily explained.

For example, Western European nations, where abortion is legal and available, have the lowest abortion rates in the free world, with less than 10 abortions per 1000 women of reproductive age.

McLaren is incorrect, simply regurgitating facts fed to him by Planned Parenthood. England has a comparable abortion rate to the United States. France's rate somewhat lower, but abortion is essentially illegal after ten weeks. Abortion is illegal in Ireland.

When I share these facts and reflections with my friends… Many begin to wonder if we Christians have been manipulated by clever but cynical political operatives who have used the issue of abortion to win elections.

McLaren constructs an entire argument by attributing assertions to his nebulous cadre of unbright friends. But yes, when you snow your friends with false data, that can be a game-changer.

Some anti-abortion voters have told me that they agree with me in this diagnosis, but they feel their vote for McCain is a symbolic protest against the generally low moral conditions in our society.

It must be convenient to surround one's self with people who only make the weakest possible arguments in opposition to your cause.

In this election, voters have in Barack Obama and Joe Biden faithful husbands and dedicated fathers...

McLaren is being cute, alluding to John McCain’s affair without having to come right out and name the sin, which is a bad idea if you are a Christian Democrat who supported Bill Clinton.

In my book Everything Must Change…

I think the only reason emergents pretend to be Christians is so they can hock their crappy books. That said, why does McLaren think it bolsters his argument to note that he made a similar argument in a book?

It is one expression of what I call the "covert curriculum" - a "framing story" that also fuels the current economic crisis, environmental crisis, and security crisis that together threaten our future.

So your book finds a way to present the mundane in terms that are aloof and opaque. Good to know.

Until we unite to acknowledge and address that deeper disease and dysfunction, thus dealing with our symptoms in a systemic way, we will stay stuck in polarized paralysis, fighting divisive and ineffective culture wars while our moral health continues to deteriorate.

Or instead of all this bed-wetting nonsense, we could just vote Republican and make abortion illegal. It takes two to tango w/r/t divisiveness, doesn’t it? McLaren’s argument boils down to instructing pro-life voters to vote for a pro-choice party because that party is pro-choice. Talk about a covert curriculum.

During this election, more and more of us who consider life sacred are losing confidence in the simplistic one-or-two issue voting habits that some vocal religious leaders and broadcasters have urged upon us for decades.

Ah, conservative are back to being single-issue types.

We are beginning to see through the unhelpfully-framed arguments
Emergent to English Dictionary:
Unhelpfully-framed argument = Argument with which B-Mac disagrees.

But in regards to abortion along with many other issues, we are convinced – firmly, thoughtfully, and enthusiastically convinced – that casting our vote for Obama is a step in the right direction,
Nonsense. Contrary to the position of McLaren’s imaginary friends, the argument against legal abortion is simple, and it is thus:

Abortion is murder, because killing a human being is murder. Murder cannot be legal, per the Constitution.

The case for McCain is that he essentially agrees with the above.

McLaren’s verbal contortions (and I'm being being generous) only obfuscate the issue. Which, of course, is the point. McLaren is fond of referencing the OT prophets (without ever directly quoting them, of course). No reading of Jeremiah could persuade any reasonable person God is cool with the legalized slaughter of infants.

That said, over the last several weeks, Brian McLaren and the Emergent political movement has made their case for Christians to vote for Barack Obama. That their arguments are found so wanting is instructive.


Blogger Marc Conklin said...

"Abortion is murder, because killing a human being is murder. Murder cannot be legal, per the Constitution."

I'm sure you're used to this question and completely expect it... and I ask it with a genuine desire to understand your point of view: Does the quote above reflect your opinion that the Constitution renders war and capital punishment illegal, or does that come down to a definition of murder that is more nuanced than "killing a human being"?

1:09 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

Correct. The Constitution recognizes the right to kill, but not to murder. An easy example would be self-defense, or even having an abortion to preserve the life of the mother.

The other argument, of course, is that a fetus is not a person, and has no Constitutional protection therefore. I suspect that this is what McLaren believes, but that cannot be argued biblically, and he would reveal himself to be a secular liberal were he to offer the argument.

1:57 PM  
Anonymous CJTiger said...


I love your analysis of McLaren's arguments. He's a partisan hack posing as a pastor. A pastor who doesn't let messy problems like sin or the Bible get in the way of his beliefs.

7:49 PM  

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