Steve Daines Is Awfully Selective in His Respect for Life

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Yesterday, in an offensive defense of his support for a bill that will defund Planned Parenthood, Senator Steve Daines argued that the measure was necessary to defend the sanctity of human life. According to Mike Dennison:

Daines said America is a “nation that values life,” and that it must stand in defense of those who are most vulnerable, including the “unborn.”

Let’s put aside what rational people know: that Daines lied about Planned Parenthood, that it provides critical, often irreplacable services for people across the country, and that access to the contraception and education Planned Parenthood provides actually reduces the need for abortion. There’s no more effective way to reduce abortions than to give people education and autonomy over the reproductive health, and no more effective organization the Planned Parenthood. The facts, as they so often don’t, don’t support Senator Daines.

That being said, a more important issue is the incredible, monstrous hypocrisy of Senator Daines claiming to value life, one day after issue a belated defense of President Trump’s decision to block refugees from our shores, a defense of a policy that will ensure that some who otherwise would not will die horrific deaths. According to Daines:

“We are at war with Islamic extremists and anything less than 100 percent verification of these refugees’ backgrounds puts our national security at risk.  We need to take the time to examine our existing programs to ensure terrorists aren’t entering our country.  The safety of U.S. citizens must be our number one priority.”

Almost everything about that statement is a lie. Our refugee program offers an incredibly extensive vetting process and restricting refugees is far more likely to cause terrorism than prevent it. Worse yet, it’s a betrayal of the value of life that Daines professes to support, one he has publicly rootedin his Christian faith.

As it turns out, the central text of Senator Daines’s faith and the justification for his affirmation of life offers clear instruction about how we should treat those in need to seek our assistance.

From Exodus 22:21:

You shall neither wrong a stranger, nor oppress him: for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Hebrews 13:2:

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

A quick look at Matthew might also not be a bad idea for the Senator. The Christian faith, moral decency, and a defense of the value of life make it clear that there can be no defense of Trump’s inhumane and inhuman order—and Senator Daines should be ashamed of himself for his hypocrisy.

I think it’s admirable for a person to lead a moral life, whether that morality is rooted in religion, philosophy, or any other source. What can’t be admirable is for a person to use those values to oppress one group of people and ignore them when another group faces oppression.

Until Senator Daines brings himself to understand that, perhaps he can spare us the self-righteous lectures about the value of life. At the least, perhaps someone can tell Senator Daines that leading a Christian life is not about spreading poll-tested hate and fear, but about standing up for the weak and defenseless, like Christ told us to do.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

2 Comments

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  • I called his office monday to ask why the vetting process was suddenly found wanting and why these particular countries.When the woman on the phone started to say Obama,I said-no bullshit and no form letters,I want a serious answer to a serious question,and then I quit holding my breath.

  • I know everybody points at the Sermon on the Mount. And many try to use the beatitudes to challenge Christians to be Christian and live up to the ethics, even creedal ethics, of the beatitudes of BLESSED ARE . . . . . . .

    However truth is much more interesting than is fiction. The Christos of St. Paul is very different than the rab-teacher of the beatitudes of the long Sermon on the Mount(MT 5:3-12) teaching about those who are poor in spirit.
    And for a century now, more and more people look at the parallel beatitudes of the Sermon on the Plain(Luke 6:20-23) where Jesus is talking to his disciples who are economically poor, and read that the shorter Lukan version is probably earlier. And agrees more with earlier Coptic text. The disciples were very economically poor.
    Why position an exclusive view of Christianity when there is so much to include.
    For a shocker, like people did a hundred years ago, compare the Lord’s Prayer of Matthew 6:9-15, with Luke 11:2-4. eg Matthew: ‘forgive us not if but as we have forgiven . . . rescue us from the evil one.’
    For a century more and more people recognize the very large amount of Luke that is parallel to Matthew and read/study that the oral tradition likely received and passed on practised memories to Luke, and seperably to Matthew.
    But evidently Mark did not know of the oral tradition to his North. The tradition that was so common that it is now commonly recognized as a source of passed on tradition = Q Source.
    But all the above still misses the story. Looking deeper into what Jesus actually said finds him speaking mostly parables to poor people who understood the parables. And his criticisms of Pharisees and Sadducees.
    In other words, avoid trying to normalize Christainity let alone the New Testament, to some pure essence, identified by fundamental concepts.
    There’s already plenty of Fundies hitting people with planks from constructed platforms supporting images of Fundamental Christianity.

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