Stop Caricaturing Christians: An Open Letter to John Pavlovitz

In this March 2, 2016 file photo, pro-life advocates stand in protest outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

By Sid Cynewulf Published on November 6, 2016

Dear John Pavlovitz,

I recently read your impassioned Huffington Post article “White, Conservative, Christians Friends: I Wish You Were Really Pro-life,” in which you argued that conservatives — in particular, those who reluctantly vote for Donald Trump because of his pro-life position — are not acting in good conscience. As you say: “You see, it’s not that you’re really pro-life, you’re pro-straight, white, Christian fetuses.”

Since your view of pro-life Christians isn’t novel among progressives, I’d like to briefly share my own experience.

As an undergraduate college student at a diverse secular university, I have a lot of good friends who are not straight, not white, not Christian or not from America — and many who aren’t pro-life. And I wouldn’t have it any other way, because I know that these are real people — who have things that real people tend to have, like pasts, futures, loves, emotions, kindness, generosity and sincere beliefs. I know this because I have met them — they are my friends.

The primary difference between most conservative reluctant-Trump-supporters, conservative Trump-opponents, and liberals does not lie primarily in heart or caring, but in factual belief.

I also know that, for the most part, my Christian-conservative-pro-life friends, acquaintances, colleagues, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and family (some of whom are planning to vote for Trump, and some of whom most definitely aren’t) are kind, loving, helpful and generous people who hold their beliefs sincerely, who possess and express genuine love for people of those outsider groups you described in your article. I disagree with most of them on some things, but this much I know.

Because I know this, I know that the primary difference between most conservative reluctant-Trump-supporters, conservative Trump-opponents, and liberals does not lie primarily in heart or caring, but in factual belief — differences of opinion on things like: effective public policy, the definition of justice, unintended consequences, the situation in Asia Minor, the existence of a hell, the question of whether a few million unborn lives (the majority of them non-white, by the way) is a fair price to pay to keep Trump out of the White House — things like that. Things real human people are prone to disagree on.

You, on the other hand, write as though you don’t know any conservative Christians (white or otherwise). If you do, you should direct your open letters to them (real people) not storybook villains — a sorry bunch of Bible-thumping, racist, xenophobic, Muslim-hating misogynists who bully homosexuals and, apparently, even ridicule obese people. Liberals like you often wonder why the conservative retrogrades of America never respond to your impeccable logic and luminous reasoning. They never respond because you refuse dialogue with them, preferring to direct your invectives at demons of your own imagination.

Of course, storybook villains do exist. If one of them ever reads your article, I sincerely hope they will take it to heart, acknowledge their hypocrisy and change their ways. I hope they will become genuinely pro-life, put aside their prejudice and hatred, their absurd, ignorant tribalism, and fight to save the lives of everyone — starting with the most vulnerable.

And I wish you would do the same.

With love,

A fellow Real Person

 

Sid Cynewulf is the pseudonym of a real college student foolishly double-majoring in unrelated fields. He further cuts into his sleep time by writing the occasional column.

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  • Estelline

    Good point. It’s so much easier to knock down a straw man (and feel smug doing so) than to engage in nuanced discussion of knotty problems. Easier, and far more dangerous–turning one’s opponent into a straw man is the first step in dehumanizing him, and we all know where that eventually leads.

    • jeremy

      I like that insight: Turning one’s opponent into a straw man is the first step in dehumanizing him.

  • Charles Burge

    Leftists have a penchant for employing logical fallacies, and one of their favorites is the straw-man argument.

    • Camino1

      Were you out marching in Charlottesville uniting the right? This looks like the same inflammatory reductionism.

  • Jerry Dodson

    Superb.

  • David Scott

    I support John’s position and constantly marvel at the fact that so many pro-lifers have so little respect for unwanted children AFTER they are born. It is so easy to preach life to others; it’s a lot more difficult when YOU are the one who is responsible for that child when you are poor, sick, or addicted. The mother, father, and doctor should make this all-important decision, not some outside party who is not familiar with the grim details. If you are against abortion, fine, don’t have one. Don’t take my choice away from me.

    • Justin

      The government takes away your choice to speed while driving, your choice to use illicit drugs, you choice to rape women, your choice to kill another human (murder), so please explain the difference……murder is murder whether you’re dealing with a one month old fetus or a 70 year old woman in a nursing home. I guess you’re OK with the government taking away your “choice” as long as it’s something you’re OK with, right?

      • David Scott

        Justin, If you do not believe in any cases of situational ethics, how to you justify “justifiable war,” or are you a pacifist? You can’t have it both ways.

        • Justin

          David, I never stated I did not believe in cases of situational ethics. I was only making the point to other readers and yourself that you shouldn’t pick and choose what “rights” you feel the federal government should be allowed to infringe upon, based on your personal beliefs and opinions. My beliefs personally are that these types of decisions and policies should be left up to the states, as intended in the constitution. The federal government has no reason to have their hands in everything that we do……including abortion laws and regulations. Give this (and many other issues) back to the states to decide and let the general public decide where they want to reside based on the states decisions on these topics. If you don’t like what one state decides, then by all means, go to a state that mirrors your beliefs. My opinion on the entire topic is that federal government has no place except in securing our borders against domestic and non-domestic terrorism (military), limited regulations on foreign trade, and immigration laws. They have proven time and time again they can’t manage anything, so return it to the states or privatize it.

          • David Scott

            On matters of civil rights, the federal government MUST set policy or we would probably still have slavery in some southern states, women would possibly not have the vote in some states, and blacks and other minorities would still be discriminated against in backward states. Would you want YOUR civil rights determined by your racist and bigoted neighbors? Put yourself in the shoes of those effected. Some laws belong at the state level, others clearly do not.

          • Justin

            This is where our opinions differ…. If the people living in that state vote for representative to “represent” their beliefs, the majority within that state would have the say-so. I doubt very seriously that the majority of any state would still vote/approve of slavery….. Come on now! And if the state I lived in did happen to set policy I didn’t agree with, I have the right/ability to MOVE! That’s the great thing about State’s rights…… It give people options to move where they feel they would be best represented. I get what you’re saying….. But to think that the majority anywhere within America would be “backwards” enough to still have slavery is crazy….. Not to mention you’re bigoted expression that it would exist in some “southern” states…..like the North didn’t have slaves….SMH! Slaves were auctioned openly in the Market House of Philadelphia; in the shadow of Congregational churches in Rhode Island; in Boston taverns and warehouses; and weekly, sometimes daily, in Merchant’s Coffee House of New York. People such as John Hancock and Benjamin Franklin bought, sold, and owned black people….. So to “assume” that the “southern” states would be the ones to still have slavery if it were up to the states is as “backwards” as what you claim to be against! I’m not going to argue over differences in ideaology, as neither of us will likely change our opinions.

          • David Scott

            Justin, With all due respect, the only thing people of your ilk lack is EMPATHY. If it were YOU being discriminated against, you would understand the concept of human and civil rights. Do you want a group of local, ignorant voters telling you what is right for you and your family? If you were poor, you couldn’t just up and move because the local voters decided that lynching was legal. I live in the South and, believe me, some of my neighbors don’t believe blacks should vote or go to integrated schools.

          • LRJ3

            Where’s your EMPATHY for the human being developing in her mother’s womb, David? Why is that life not deserving of human rights?

          • Carla Harris

            I do happen to live within a state in which my representative doesn’t represent my political views. Your point cannot work until we can repair our gerrymandered districts. Our elections are not fair and don’t give adequate representation to the People. In Texas, most of our large cities have a Democratic majority however, with our gerrymandered districts Republican Congress continue to prevail while our Local Mayors are Democrats. Until the districts are redrawn fairly representing the people none of us are truly heard. Elections in Local, state and on the federal level need reform and the gerrymandering issue must be a priority for all Americans. I won’t even go into detail on voter ID laws but it’s a ridiculous thing to say that I can buy a gun easier than I can vote. On that point, it’s extremely harder to get a drivers license than a gun too! We have some serious issues here in America. It’s Time we come together to fix our internal issues so we can be represented. Then, and only then, our elected officials will speak for as and the majority will truly decide legislation.

        • Juan Romualdo Martinez Cazador

          Hey Feces-For-Brains:

          If you can’t tell the difference between an innocent unborn child and a hostile enemy who has made a conscious decision to kill innocents and thus must be stopped, perhaps by deadly force, then you are a total moron.

          BUT….I’m assuming that you’re NOT a moron, but rather a typical Marxist scvmbag who promotes anything that involves evil and perversion.

          Which means, unlike the moron, you deserve NO forgiveness and NO mercy.

    • Juan Romualdo Martinez Cazador

      And how do the Communist “Democrats” show respect for the unwanted children??

      By bombarding them with violent movies and music that glorify sociopathic behavior? By glorifying and normalizing homosexuality and erasing the natural differences between genders? By playing the races against one another while simultaneously pretending that “everyone should get along”?

      Is the bowel movement between your ears capable of even one single sensible thought?

      • BoneShards

        That was rude! Parents have control over what their children are exposed to, and when they don’t, they then have both the opportunity and responsibility to discuss these issues within their family, sharing their viewpoints and critcisms of growing up in a free society. While I can both understand, and agree with some of the points you raise, I don’t think your “parting shot” lends itself well to any dialogue, or is in any way constructive.

      • Camino1

        You have a grudge against Communists or something?

  • Justin

    With all of this talk about not really being pro-life, how many in support of this pastors message have actually done ANYTHING to show their love for others that are different (I.e. mission trips to Africa, open an orphanage in South America, etc.) My guess is most have done nothing more than play keyboard worrior over social media outlets with those that think differently than they do…….. ACTIONS, ACTIONS, ACTIONS people…… They speak much louder than your hateful words towards people you disagree with!!

    • BoneShards

      Some people do not have life situations that lend themselves to foreign travel, etc. Their “mission” work is in the everyday, humdrum existence…. acting in small ways in their communities, by being kind to neighbors, extending a helping or consoling hand to others in their immediate vicinity. And sometimes it’s these humble efforts that go unnoticed in deference to the larger, grandiose ones, but that in no way diminishes their value or importance.

  • Me Here

    John Pavlovitz is a democratic hack masquerading as a christian. In other words, John Pavlovitz is trolling christianity. He is an embarrasssment to anything christian, and Mr Pavlovitz seems to be well aware of it.

    • Janet Lea

      and the GOP is full of no one Jesus would have hung with.

      • socsback

        No one? Really? Have you read the Bible? Matthew? Matthew was a tax collector. Tax collectors were consider the most vile human beings on the planet. Jesus specifically invited Matthew to follow him. Facts matter.

        • BoneShards

          Matthew repented his ways and, by following Jesus, repudiated his former life. “Matthew displayed one of the most radically changed lives in the Bible in response to an invitation from Jesus. He did not hesitate; he did not look back. He left behind a life of wealth and security for poverty and uncertainty. He abandoned the pleasures of this world for the promise of eternal life.” I don’t see anyone in the GOP repudiating much of what Trump brings to the table. Yes, Facts do matter!

    • Hebrewhelena

      Sooo true!

  • Leo Briones

    While I agree with John Pavlovitz’s criticism that much of the American church being more of a tool of white supremacy (no matter the milquetoast veil), I disagree with much of his theology and I believe the authors points are considerate and kind. Still, at the end of the day we must ask ourselves, “What does any of this have to do with the gospel and healing broken people?”

  • Janet Lea

    I agree with him – to many false white right Christians these days.

  • DJ

    Thanks Sid. I hope he reads this

  • BoneShards

    The thing is Sid, the “Christians” who obtain media time, who are out front and center, who are politically motivated (not spiritually motivated, for the Bible tells us that politics is of this world, not God’s kingdom) have a voice so loud that they drown out voices like yourselves. We have evangelicals seeking political power, and now once obtained, are inebriated on it. Perhaps instead of addressing the splinter in they eyes of Mr. Pavlovitz, the audience that really needs to hear from you are those extremists who have co-opted Christianity for political gain. They, not Mr. Pavlotviz do more to harm Christianity, drive more people away from it, than Mr. Pavlovitz. Regarding pro-life conservatism, it was never an issue until it had political currency, and that currency was driven by extremists. Literally hundreds of thousands of embryos remain frozen in fertility clinics, and the suggestion that they are entitled to a womb, that their “right to life” pre-empts the already living, means that people like yourself should offer your womb to secure that right, or you start campaigning to outlaw fertility clinics, denying those who desperately want children the means to have them. And that’s just one example of why abortion needs to be left between the medical professional, the individual, and their experience and belief in God, or not. To me, as a Christian, the focus is my behavior, it’s an inward journey and relationship with God. It’s not about “other’s” behavior. God gave us all the freedom to choose or reject him. If I am to call myself an ambassador of Christ, then I too must extend that choice to others. Anything short of that is to behave like the unmerciful servant, described in Matthew 18.

  • Jim

    Pavlovitz consider conservatives to be Pharisees. I see his ilk as Sadducees. The Pharisees believed in God and the immortality of the soul. Liberals deny the human fetus as having a soul.

  • Gordon McDougall

    I suggest you add following to your self description, “Sid Cynewulf is the pseudonym of ‘an entitled, white privileged’ college student… in the interests of transparency and honest disclosure.

    • LRJ3

      Were you triggered by his pro-life stance, Gordon? Perhaps you should add “, Snowflake” after your name to give everyone fair warning. In the interests of transparency and honest disclosure, of course.

  • tim

    From what I have read of John Pavlovitz, he always qualifies his attributions in recognition that he is not addressing all American Christians. Having said that, he is addressing the likely millions who do subscribe to the views as expressed in no uncertain terms by those who represent the Evangelical voters. It is not just a handful of “storybook villains” as you suggest and their support for Trump is not “reluctant” as you also suggest it. It is full throated and unambiguous. If you are upset at how people are perceiving those people that you know as good loving people, take it up with them. It is not the establishment of a political party that needs to be overthrown but the establishment that is speaking for you.

  • Rose LaRue

    John Pavlovitz is right. Frankly, I do not see how anyone calling themselves Christian could vote for Trump. It’s mind boggling.

    • Steve Powell

      Do you believe those that call themselves Christian could have voted for Hillary?

      • WesleyHomes937

        I not only call myself a Christian, but I am one. I voted for Hillary. And yes, I don’t believe many of the lies and distortions of her life journey, whether they were spread by Russia or Trump or persons unknown. No politician is perfect and she has had her issues, but she did stand by her man. Can’t say the same for Trump and his many wives.

        • Steve Powell

          I personally know the people who hosted her server. She’s not a good human being. Much of what we know about the deleted emails is completely true and the FBI should be turned upside down for not doing what it should have. Next question. If she were running to be the leader of Haiti, would they vote for her?

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