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Thursday, July 23, 2009

I hate when I call a client to a counseling session and the first thing I notice is the cross around her neck or the church logo T-shirt she's wearing. I hate it because of what I think and what I'm supposed to think and what some of Them made me think. Of course, I don't fear terrorism when I counsel a client wearing hijab, but my gut reaction is to fear Christianity.

If I had a religion, it would probably be Christianity. My religious experience and exposure was half-hearted, at best, but the majority of it revolved around Jesus Loves Me and Christmas trees because that's what my ancestry was down with. I stopped identifying with it, though, when I realized that it wasn't required and especially when I realized that I couldn't claim a religion that was based on salvation of its followers and its followers only. And yes, that's a characteristic of most religions--so I don't have one. It surprises people that I believe in a God and I pray because I think I give off the activist/athiest vibe. And because I'm an abortioneer.

The God I believe in is a pro-choice God. But the God that Christians stereotypically believe in is one who knows and loves babies from the moment of conception and who damns to hell mothers who abort, right? That's what we know from the majority of the antis who attack our clinics and our providers. If it's in God's name and it's a Christian belief, THAT'S the terrorism that I fear.

When I counsel women who have religious reservations about their decisions, those women are almost always Christians. I can get by with some pseudo-amateur-pastoral counseling with my Christian/Unitarian/Pagan/Jewish/Buddhist world view. I see the women opening up to me. I like being able to talk about a God without pretending it's something I believe in. But still, I fear those women's judgement of me and I fear what will come out of their mouths. I've heard, "Abortion is wrong, I don't believe in it, but I need to do it, and then I'm going to forget it happened." (Those sessions are long.)

But recently, I counseled a woman who was wearing a church group T-shirt who said, "Some of my friends have come out to me and told me they had abortions, but they were afraid to tell me at the time because they know I'm so involved in my church. But I told them, 'I'm involved because I love it, but your life is your life, and I'm your friend, and my job as a Christian is not to judge anybody.' An now that I'm here, I know that God knew this. He knew this was going to happen, He knew what decision I would make, He will get me through it, and He brought me here." My heart swelled to hear the best and only affirmation of the Christian faith I've ever been exposed to.

Unlike that client, I'm still learning not to judge. This story of mine doesn't have a succinct point because I don' think I've reached it yet in my abortioneer experience. It's a constant battle to understand a religion so complex and so maligned and so good. I sometimes struggle with hearing derogatory words about faith, and then I turn around and say the same things. When abortioneers talk about religion and spirituality, it's so often in the context of morality and ethics. That isn't a question for me because we all know I have no qualms with abortion. My talk is about prejudices--theirs AND mine.


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