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Radical white evangelical fundamentalists in control of...

Defend Truth

Opinionista

Radical white evangelical fundamentalists have taken control of the US Supreme Court

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Reverend Father Stefan Hippler is a Roman Catholic priest from Germany who has lived and worked in South Africa for 25 years. He is the Chairperson of HOPE Cape Town Trust, a development organisation working in the fields of health, ECD, youth and vocational training/entrepreneurship in the townships of the Greater Cape Town region. He is an author, Aids activist, a Paul Harris Fellow and a member of the Senior Council of the Southern African-German Chamber of Commerce & Industry. In 2021, he was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz), Germany’s highest civilian award.

The US Supreme Court’s decision on abortion is not one born out of democracy: it is an almost fascist takeover of a democratic institution essential for justice served in a democratic society.

The Republican Party, the right-wingers and those deeply entrenched in a specific way of thinking are jubilant – and my Roman Catholic Church officially lauds the US Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade decision on abortion. The Vatican’s Academy for Life said that “the fact that a large country with a long democratic tradition has changed its position on this issue also challenges the whole world”.

I am holding my breath – and no, I am not convinced that a large country with a long democratic tradition has changed its position. Polls tell the opposite.

Obviously, the world would be a better place without abortion – but also without unwanted pregnancies and with programmes supporting single moms and difficult social situations. We all know that this is not happening, that there is a lot of lip service.

Second, this is not a decision born out of democracy: it is an almost fascist takeover of a democratic institution essential for justice served in a democratic society. Since Donald Trump, the US has lost many facets of a functioning democratic system. Radical white evangelical fundamentalists have taken over the reins at the Supreme Court and are forcing their ill convictions onto society.

Candidates for the Supreme Court bend the truth under questioning in their confirmation hearings – one could also say there were lies and deceit in the run-up to confirmation. We also heard about sexual harassment and more by one of the now elected judges – and we know that Mitch McConnell abused the system to avoid an Obama-proposed candidate. This is politics instead of justice, as a matter of fact.

No, the end never justifies the means – and the hijacking of the American democratic experiment by white macho evangelical and Catholic hardliners is one of the greatest dangers to democratic means in the US; it is a great danger to long-fought-for liberties and civil rights. Fake news, lies and outright criminal activities against the laws of democracy, as the hearings in Washington bring to light, cannot be the base of a juridical decision of the highest court of the land.

I cannot, and will not, celebrate an attack on the values of democracy. I am appalled to know that the reality is that poor women will bear the brunt and consequences of this decision – there will be illegal and dangerous abortion options with deadly consequences. The writing is on the wall that – see the Alito and Thomas opinions – other basic rights will be on the chopping block in the future.

Abortion in civil societies is a much-debated issue – and obviously the sanctity of life is at stake. But so is the sanctity of life attacked by the death penalty, by wars and certainly by current US gun laws. The obvious schizophrenia of evangelical fundamentalists to pick what is convenient and to ignore or even promote the opposite of the rest is breathtaking.

Once again: the end never justifies the means – celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision is ill-advised. It brings more chaos and more division to society, and more danger towards the democratic institutions in the US. It will also cost lives.

Obviously, religious institutions and faith-based groups can and should have an opinion and also participate in the public debate. But there are rules and ethics when it comes to how decisions in a democratic system are made.

If we are honest, we all have to admit: abortion will not disappear by a court decision, but by an openness of society to discuss sexuality, by means of avoiding pregnancy and by politics supporting children, single parents and families. These are all things that religious fundamentalists and evangelical hardliners – and also organised religion – are not known for putting into practice.

Convincing people in a democracy to do the right thing (whatever that is) is always a process of words and deeds, but also carries the freedom of those we try to convince to say “no”. We people of faith are part of this process, but in my humble view we can never support supreme decisions which are based on lies, deceit, political gambling and hardly covered intentions born out of private religious fundamentalist convictions.

The decision in the matter of Roe v Wade is at the end a disservice to the aim of avoiding unwanted pregnancies and of acknowledging reality; it will polarise and militarise those in favour of or against it, and it brings into disrepute the standing of one of the most important institutions in a democracy.

And the victims in all this are at the end, again: women. DM

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All Comments 6

    • The connection between the supreme court ‘high-jacking’ by political opportunists is apt ! Imagine when during confirmation hearing process the candidate/s can blatantly ‘lie’ or obfuscate … and after appointment go back on their word … without consequence/s, is mind boggling ! No wonder we have the shenanigans of the Divided States of America … which it has always been … but not quite as acrimonious and poisonous as it is now . On the supreme court we also have a white supremacist BUT in a black skin – married to a white supremacist wife !

  • And yet the Supreme Court decision simply sends the abortion question back into the democratic process on a state by state basis. In other words rather than have the unelected Supremes create a law they have given that responsibility to the law makers. How is that undemocratic?

  • I read the priest’s argument with some amazement and not only because they fly in the face of his own church dogma. I wonder if he even believes in the God he claims to serve, the one in the Bible with all those tiresome commandments. The decision is simply that the right to have an abortion is not in the US Constitution, which it is not. Ironically it was the bench in Roe v Wade that was politicized and overstepped the role of the Supreme Court. All the decision means is that abortion is not a constitutional issue it is an issue for the legislatures of the individual States. In two of the most populous, CA and NY, that means the legal requirements for an abortion are completely unchanged.

  • Thank you for this wonderful, informed commentary on a subject that has caused way too much division even before this idiotic ruling. How these right wing idiots can think it is better for the world, and less of a sin, to bring unwanted children into this crazy world, when the chances of them having a decent life are so slim. They are alienating huge numbers of vulnerable women, not to mention endagering their lives with backstreet abortions. These fundamentalists are piously showing us exactly what being a Christ follower is not.

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