When the Devil Needs to Buy Something From You

The Devil and I have had a long, antagonistic relationship.  I’m not sure if the Devil himself ever noticed me, but I did often oppose one of his franchise organizations.  With arguments, protests, votes, and prayers I worked to shut his business down.

But then I left my job.

I had oft considered whether I should still be fighting against the Devil and his employees.  I never hated his employees, it wasn’t there fault for doing his work.  They were…enslaved…deceived…in error… I don’t know.  I just knew they were wrong but I didn’t blame them for it.  It was their boss who was to blame.  But since leaving my previous career, I wasn’t sure what to think of the Devil’s corporation.

But one day I was reading the news, and I saw that a gunman entered a franchise in Colorado.  He killed several people, including a Christian police officer. This was disturbing.  I never believed that violence was the answer to close the Devil’s doors.  I felt bad for the police officer’s family.  I felt bad for patients in the clinic.  I felt bad for the staff members who cowered in fear, hiding from the madman with a gun.  A madman who supposedly played for my team.  Or at leat the team I used to lead.

My Email: Good morning Jesse, this is John from the local security systems and monitoring company.  I was saddened to hear about the tragedy in Colorado.  I design security systems for a living, I’d love to come by your local Planned Parenthood clinic and local over your current security systems and proceedures.  There’s no cost for this and no obligation to buy anything from me.  In fact, if you currently are already working with another security company, I’ll give you things you should inquire with them about.  I’m not looking to make a sale, I just want to help.

Jesse, Director of Health Services: Yes, we’re all a little shaken.  We are customers of your local competitor but we’d be greatful if you could come by and tell us what you think of our current systems.

So I strolled up to the local Planned Parenthood.  A building I’ve never been inside of.  I was actually very surprised/impressed with their current security set up.  I was also slightly surprised that their current security provider hadn’t bothered to check in on them. Then again, their current security provider is owned by a very conservative Christian.

We had a long talk.  She was friendly, a bit young for such an important position, but clearly appreciative of my time.  I was invited back to survey this location as well as the 3 others in her jurisdiction.

It was weird.

Here I was, a former pastor, vehemently opposed to abortion, actually behind the scenes working with those who perform abortions, in the place where abortions take place.

What the…who the…how did this happen?  Am I supposed to be here?

One thing I’ve learned while being a pastor was how to smile and be kind to people no matter who they are, because these people need me to do my job.  So that’s what I did.  I was kind, I smiled, and I gave my professional expertise to people who are fearful that someone may come in on any given day with a gun to kill everyone.

I’m not going to lie to you, I’m not pro-choice.  I have given it serious thought since apparently being an atheist and being pro-choice go hand in hand.  I haven’t figured that out yet.  I’m not closed off to the idea, I just remain unconvinced.  But after spending significant time with these people in the midst of their fear, it is clear these are people committed to doing what they think is right in spite of the consequences.

This experience with Planned Parenthood has confirmed for me something I’ve always believed; nearly all our enemies aren’t bad people, they’re good people trying to do the best they can with what they think is right.  The workers of PP are kind, caring, sympathetic, and dedicated people.  These are ladies you’d want for a sister, neighbor, or a bff.  They’re good people, no matter what you think of abortion.  And they sure as shit don’t deserve to be shot up by some right wing conservative who thinks the answer to “WWJD?” is murder via domestic terrorism.

I’m going to continue to work with Planned Parenthood.  Hopefully, I can earn their business by providing a service that protects their clinics and their lives.  But this is weird.

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27 thoughts on “When the Devil Needs to Buy Something From You

  1. Good for you! I’m glad you’re able to do your job even though it’s weird for you. I’m interested in your description of yourself as “not pro-choice.” What do you mean by that, exactly? Do you think women should not be allowed to make this choice themselves? Do you think abortion should be illegal?

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    • I would like to answer for myself.

      I think I’m rather divided on this issue. Certainly I’m not against abortions, but I’m kinda against wanton abortion just as how I’m against wanton pregnancy.

      What I’m seeing the trend going is this – developed nations are all having low birth rates, and eventually we will reach a point where babies are actually a social asset/responsibility. Not sure how this will play out regarding abortion.

      In any case, my take on the matter is this. There are many things in the world that we are not allowed to do just because we have bodily wants/needs. The argument that a woman can decide everything that happens within her body hence is a bad argument. It’s equivalent to saying that a person can choose to mutilate himself or chop off his hand on a wanton basis and we should allow that.

      Please note that I’m not saying there is equivalence in the example I gave above, but I just want to highlight the flaws in the argument that “a woman can choose because it’s her own body”. The issue is much more nuanced than that.

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  2. Being an atheist doesn’t mean you’re automatically pro-choice, as you yourself prove. I am, but I’m not going to argue the point here; I would only ask that you think about the fact that if humans don’t have souls, and they aren’t yet capable of thought, and they are holding a fully functional human hostage, maybe their status needs to be reevaluated. But that’s food for thought.

    The important thing is that people running clinics, doing legal things, should not have to fear being gunned down. And you’re helping that. That isn’t doing evil, that’s doing good.

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  3. Hey, if you want to have someone that left the faith that has wrestled with the same questions about abortion to talk to I’d be glad to offer that to you. I took a long time to figure out my position, but I learned a lot on the way…

    I’m a fb Friend..message anytime.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Just to throw it out there, I am pro-choice, but for reasons totally outside of my personal belief. Quite frankly, I don’t think anyone’s personal beliefs should enter into the decision except that of the parent(s). A doctor should be allowed to enter their professional opinion into the equation in terms of health risks, but no personal convictions should be involved there. If you personally believe that a fetus should be considered a human being and that abortion is therefore wrong, you go right ahead, but that doesn’t mean you can push that belief on others.

    If we look at it from a purely legal standpoint, my stance is this: a fetus has not yet been born, and therefore does not have a birth certificate. A birth certificate is required to be registered as a citizen of pretty much any nation on earth. Since a fetus cannot be a citizen, it cannot be guaranteed the same legal rights. Take whatever moral standpoint you want, but as far as the law should be concerned based on what is established, a fetus is not a person.

    Liked by 1 person

    • [A] fetus has not yet been born, and therefore does not have a birth certificate. A birth certificate is required to be registered as a citizen of pretty much any nation on earth. Since a fetus cannot be a citizen, it cannot be guaranteed the same legal rights.

      That’s simply false. The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees “the equal protection of the laws” to “all persons within its jurisdiction”. The question is, therefore, not whether a fetus is a citizen, but a person.

      And that’s something that even different flavors of Christianity can’t agree upon (given that the Bible contains contradictory messages on that topic), much less people who don’t take their morality from Bronze Age writings.

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  5. Hi John,
    Not sure how much you remember about me. I’ve tried to help you in the past where I could, but I haven’t been able to afford to become a Patreon, so I’m not a Facebook friend, unfortunately. I can understand your feelings. I too, was once on that side of the equation. But, over time, my position has changed (on a great many things) – especially as I let go of religion and religious reasoning. I don’t want to get into a debate here, but I did write up something a while back on the subject, and I thought I would share it, if that’s okay? Read it, or not. And no reply is needed. I just hope that it provides “food for thought”. And thanks again for helping people – even people doing a job which you morally oppose.

    Here is my little piece:

    “Bodily Autonomy is one of the most fundamental rights we have as human beings. This right is recognized even after death. No one can force someone to donate blood, or an organ. Even once that person ceases living, you cannot take organs from them to save lives, without prior consent. If there is a two year old child who is ill, and will die without a kidney transplant, and it is discovered that I am the only viable candidate to donate to her, no one can force me to donate one of my kidneys to her. Yes, she will die, but my bodily autonomy trumps her right to live.

    The same is true of a woman’s body and the fetus inside of her. The fetus is using the woman’s body only by continual consent of the woman. She can withdraw that consent at anytime, even if that means that the fetus will die. The fetus has no rights to the organs, blood, or any part of the woman. To say otherwise is to say that the woman has fewer rights than a corpse, and that the fetus has more rights than a two year old.

    As to the father, and other arguments: The very moment that a fetus can be removed from the mother with no more risk than that of a pregnancy or a normal abortion, and placed into whatever form of incubator/surrogate/etc that the father wishes, then he will have the right to have a say in whether an abortion is performed or not. But until then, he has no say. Not because he did not contribute his genetic material, but because basic biology makes the risks, the burden, entirely the woman’s.

    If you are Pro-Life, then you must be Pro-comprehensive sex education. You must be Pro-free contraception. You must be Pro-welfare. You must be Pro-free child care, and many other things. It is proven that free birth control and comprehensive sex education can lower abortion rates by up to 72%. A major factor in some abortions is the inability of the family to afford, or care for, a new child.

    Abortions in the U.S. ranges in cost between $300 and $1,000, with the average abortion costing around $800. These costs are not subsidized by the government or covered by any form of insurance. Thus, this is completely out-of-pocket. The ONLY people that would use abortion as “birth control” would be the wealthy. And no matter what laws are passed, the wealthy would get abortions whenever they wanted by simply flying to other countries.

    Also, studies have shown that laws against abortion do NOT alter abortion rates. They simply make abortions less safe. Countries with laws against abortion actually have higher abortion rates, typically, than those in which it is legal.

    To argue against Bodily Autonomy in favor of life preservation is to argue that all people should be compelled to donate blood as often as physically possible. That all people should be required to be tested for compatibility and be forced to donate organs and/or tissue if it will save a life, even at risk of their own. That after a person dies, their body should be harvested of any usable organs and tissues, despite the wishes of the person, or their family, or their beliefs, so that lives may be saved.

    If this is what you are advocating, then you should say so. But somehow, I don’t think it is.”

    Please feel free to check my research on anything I have said above.

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    • I agree mostly with you, except with the definition of rights.

      What is a right? I’m not sure, who define what are rights?

      UNICEF says it’s a right for kids to get education. I’m not so sure, as in, I hope that all kids do get education, but is it a right?

      I will only go so far as say that Bodily Autonomy is what I like to enjoy, and I’ll grant that same enjoyment to other people as long as they fit within certain framework.

      Case in point, I was conscripted into the army. Did I have right to not join the army? Leftist will say no, while countries with people used to conscription and agrees with the reason why there’s a need for conscription and say I have no right to refuse since it’s about collective benefit.

      This issue gets even more muddled when you realize as atheists EVERYTHING is moral relative. There is no way you will be able to establish an OUGHT. Hence, to base your full argument on Bodily Autonomy as a given right is not going to stand under scrutiny.

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      • Rights are defined, and granted, by the society you live in; by the government, which is elected by the majority of the people (I’m assuming you live in a democracy). Daelda is absolutely right about bodily autonomy. You cannot be forced to donate any part of yourself, even after death, to save the life of another. Your government says so. Because your fellow citizens say so.

        Daelda may have misspoken by saying these are “fundamental human rights”, but they are rights granted to citizens of our various countries none the less, and the legality of abortion is an extension of that, for the reasons she listed.

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  6. I understand where you’re coming from. I’ve been an atheist for over 30 years now, and I would only consider myself to be “reluctantly pro-choice (with caveats)”. I don’t believe that there’s a soul, and because of that, there’s no real functional difference between an abortion and getting your tonsils removed. I don’t like it (and I’ll explain why later), but scientifically I can’t fault it.

    Around 20 weeks, it starts to lose my support. When the brain of the fetus starts functioning, that’s where I move from pro-choice to not so much. I think there’s a lot of people that think the same way as I do, but I’ve never looked into it much. I just know this is what I think.

    Despite my normally pro-choice stance (pre-20 weeks), I hate abortion in all of it’s instances. While I realize that there is no soul, and so destroying a single cell or a wad of cells isn’t anything that I would consider morally wrong, my brain can’t get past one thing. Potential.

    Allow me a pseudo-sci-fi hypothetical. Tomorrow, I invent a time machine. I hop into my time machine and travel back in time to five minutes before life forms for the first time. I hop out of my time machine and pour a couple gallons of chlorine into the pool of primordial ooze, effectively wiping out anything for life to form from. As a result of my actions, no life forms on Earth. Morally speaking, what have I really done? Nothing really. There was nothing alive in that pool of ooze. Still, if I know that life is going to form from what occurs in that pool and I intentionally stop it, it feels more like I’ve murdered the entirety of life on this planet than cleaned up a pool of dirty stuff.

    Abortion feels the same way to me. There’s no soul. Stopping a pregnancy prior to an actual person forming does’t seem morally wrong on the surface. The rub is, I know what’s going to come of that pregnancy. It just doesn’t feel right to me to rob this future person of their opportunity to experience life.

    It leaves me in this weird middle ground. For some reason, I usually end up on the pro-choice side of arguments despite my pseudo-pro-life stance. I don’t honestly know if I’m pro-choice or pro-life. Scientifically I fall on one side, but I really don’t like being there.

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    • While you say you don’t know if you’re pro-choice, all you have illustrated is that you are anti-abortion. Which is fine and fair, and, honestly, even most of those who work for PP and other clinics aren’t fans of it per se.

      But the question is should it be YOUR choice if someone else does it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I think there’s a point where it shouldn’t be allowed, just as I’m perfectly comfortable with laws that say you can’t kill people. Somewhere between 20 and 25 weeks a fetus just becomes too “human like” for me to be comfortable allowing it to be destroyed. There are children that are born that early that have survived. Prior to that, while I really hate the practice, there’s no scientific reason that I can see that it shouldn’t be allowed, so I don’t think that it should be my choice (or society’s choice) to make. So, I guess that makes me pro-choice-ish.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I very much agree with you. The pro-life bunch have a narrative that anyone that is pro-choice is automatically pro-abortion. The two are not the same thing.

      If I could wipe out abortion from the face of the earth tomorrow, I would do so. If I were a woman and I got pregnant, I would very likely have the baby (health issues aside), but who am I to tell someone else what to do with their body? Especially, as you say, in the pre-20 week period.

      Liked by 2 people

      • “who am I to tell someone else what to do with their body?”

        I think this sentence is a myth.

        We are always telling someone else what to do in various shape or form. Even if it’s not explicit intervention (such as cases of people cutting themselves cuz emo), we are giving “suggestions” out of love (hey you should probably cut back on fatty food, watch that tummy bro).

        Even if you don’t say anything, what you do will also impact – e.g. starting to alienate people who do other things that you do not approve, either consciously or sub-consciously.

        So everything else we do it with glee, but when it comes to abortions your opinions are no longer valid?

        I say no true, there’s this thing known as society pressure and social responsibility. No man is an island.

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  7. I’m an agnostic Christian freethinker and unhappily pro-choice. I think probably 99.9% of the population wishes it would never happen. But I think one ingredient of bringing a new life into the world is the feelings of the parents. If my parents had not wanted a child, I would be totally ok with never having existed — I wouldn’t want to have imposed on them — having a child is a total life commitment, as every parent knows so completely!! — and I would never have known I had missed anything. If my parents had not wanted me, I would not say I had a “right to life.” On the other hand, if they did want me, I would say they had the right for my life not to be taken (e.g. if someone struck my mother so that the potential me did not come to term).

    I might feel differently if humans were in danger of extinction… but when we were having our family in the 60’s, people were worried about the population almost reaching 2 billion — and today, it’s already 7.1. So I don’t feel pressure from worries about extinction…. but am aware that we are sort of overrunning the globe, like a cancer, unless we suddenly learn how to co-exist with everything else.

    Where I may differ from many pro-choice advocates is in wanting procedures developed that will guarantee the fetus does not suffer pain — just as I oppose inflicting pain on any form of life, from plant to animal.

    I am impressed that you are helping avoid some of the suffering in the world even while wrestling with ultimate questions. That seems to be
    the J.J. way : )

    Best to you and yours, as always!!!!!

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  8. Thank you for thinking of PP. When I was young & broke, they were the only Doctor’s office to give me my yearly, blood work, STD screening, AIDS testing & birth control at a price I could afford. They helped me avoid the horrible & agonizing decision of abortion. I am forever thankful for the 7 years they were my Gyno. You are doing a good thing. PP should not be defined by abortions. That is a very small part of their services. Jessa

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jessa, thank you for sharing this. John, I wanted to make a point similar to this as well.

      Planned Parenthood is branded as The Abortion Factory by its foes, but it is much more than that. It is a full-service medical clinic, and abortion is just one of the services it provide. Many of the women in my life visit PP regularly for affordable medical services like those Jessa names, or even simpler things like treatment for yeast infections. Even my wife, who is currently covered by my medical insurance, goes there because sometimes it is more convenient than waiting two or three days for an appointment with our plan doctor. (Currently it’s more affordable, as my employer changed my insurance this year and the deductible is impossibly high; essentially my insurance covers nothing below an ambulance trip to the emergency room. Thanks, obamacare!) During times when my employers’ insurance covered me alone or did not offer insurance, my wife relied on PP.

      I realize it is easy to demonize PP as an abattoir but that is disingenuous. It is a doctors’ office, that happens to provide a service you don’t want.

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  9. I don’t know what particular brand of Christianity you followed before discovering your atheism, but you might be interested to learn that American Evangelicals were pro-choice until the late 1970s, claiming that the biblical position was that abortion was permissible in many situations. During the 1980s, they flipped to being pro-life, largely for political reasons. I was very surprised to learn this history of the abortion debate, and thought you might be interested, too.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2012/02/18/the-biblical-view-thats-younger-than-the-happy-meal/

    For more, read _Broken Words_ by Jonathan Dudley.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. As always, appreciate your honesty and integrity John!

    I’ve been starting to struggle with this issue too. I too am still quite pro-life. I don’t see abortion as a religious issue, but as a bio-ethics issue. And yet, I see so many other pro-life Christians who are also for gun rights, capital punishment, and the like. Isn’t this an obvious contradiction? What’s going on here?

    And I still don’t know what to make of those damn CMP videos from the summer. Who’s right? Heavily-doctored videos, or a smoking gun that the MSM and cronies are hiding?

    Ugh. It gives me a headache.

    Feeling like I have to re-evaluate more of my long-held thoughts…

    P.S. Glad to see you’re still around and getting by alright. Peace!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I was never strongly pro or anti abortion. I did have some strong opinions about Dr. Morgentaler (well-known women’s health advocate in Canada). However, while doing the 4-year EfM (from the University of the South) I thought much about my faith. That is when I began moving to the “other side”. This was 2009-2012. During that time so much idiocy was happening in your country (please forgive me) and I also became more pro-women’s health and pro-choice. I recall a panel of all male religious testifying before a Senate (I think) hearing about women’s health. No women. Just men and religious men at that. A women was also in the news at that time and called the most foul names for her views. She was prevented from testifying. I was so angry. So offended that so called Christians and religious would deny women the right to decide matters of health and conscience. No man would ever stand for that kind of treatment yet, these men thought nothing about doing that to women. How dare they! It was like a switch. My mind changed. I still attend church. My denomination and church is progressive. The people are wonderful. I am continuing to work out what it means, for me, to be Christian when that word now has the worst connotation possible. I feel much in common with Greta Vesper. Take care John. Do what is right. We don’t need God to do that. Treat others how you would like to be treated. Hang in there.

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