As well-known advocate for women’s rights and the author of over 50 books, Sister Joan Chittister has made a name for herself challenging the misogynistic forms of legislation that target women’s reproductive rights.
With the recent news of Planned Parenthood under a new barrage of onslaughts from conservative pro-life groups, a decade-old quote from the Benedictine nun has been getting quite a bit of attention.
The quote was first lifted from an interview Chittister did with Bill Moyers on PBS back in 2004. Although it’s over 10 years old, the message is still powerfully relevant and directly attacks the hypocrisy of anti-abortion policies as legislated from the Christian right:
I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there.
That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.
From the same interview, Moyers asked her what she thought about the immovable ideology of the modern day religious right, referring the “dogmatists who do not want to admit that the other side might have some claim to credibility.”
Dogmatism will always get you there. Ask a Catholic. We’ve been there. We do it well. It was dogmatism that split us in the first place in the 16th century. It’s dogmatism, this whole notion that there is a truth, the truth. that is the eternal truth and the unquestionable truth means that whatever the holy spirit, whatever, whatever the impulses of a creating God goes on creating. We have to close our mind to those.
She then used Galileo as an example of what happens when religion closes itself off to the ever-evolving truth of science.
[Catholicism] threw Galileo into house arrest for two or three years. Why? Not because of his science, that’s silliness. Because of his theology. The theology taught that we were the center of the universe. We were God’s rational and best creatures. When the little telescope, when he handed the Pope a telescope and said, “Look, we’re not the center,” they wouldn’t even pick up the telescope. That’s dogmatism. And that’s what we have to be very careful of.
You can watch her full 2004 interview with Bill Moyers here.
Featured image: screen grab via YouTube