We at Mere-O take no effort to conceal our theological and political perspective. We are conservative and proudly, at that.

Hopefully, in enough time, you’ve come to realize that one cautious element we’re concerned with is learning to differentiate the theological and the political.

This post is an exercise in differentiation if there ever was one.

Let’s begin by agreeing that there’s a lot of conservative nonsense.

Reportedly, Conservative rock star Michael Savage’s new book “Trickle Up Poverty” calls for the forced implantation of birth control devices for all recipients of welfare; the logic, presumably, that mandated birth control prevents these individuals from “breeding” and causing greater economic dependency upon the almighty and sovereign American tax payer.

According to World Net Daily,

He also wants to see Norplant, the embedded contraceptive, required for all women on welfare.

“That’s a revolutionary statement,” he [Savage] admitted. “But should we permit women on welfare to keep knocking out babies to increase their benefits? Only an insane society would permit that.”

Savage doesn’t apologize that the book is “quite radical” in some respects.

“I don’t claim to be middle of the road…”

Any “conservative” who insists that forced birth control is a “conservative” policy is manifestly insane.

Savage’s most deleterious problem is identifying the apex of history along the lines of the Capitalist metanarrative. Attempts to segment off portions of American culture along the lines of economic determinism are Satanic. Capitalism is not the Christian story.

Christian, be vigilant. In the fevered talk of economic downturn and destitution, it is too easy to grasp for straws by placing one’s meaning within the market. This is explicitly ant-Christian. Capitalism is not anti-Christian, but plotting one’s existence amongst the lifeblood of Capitalism expresses an idolatry that Revelation explicitly warns of (Rev 17).

To the charges that the American Right often mixes the realities of Christian religion and American politics, let the distinction be made clear: There is nothing Christian, or, for that matter, conservative, about the forced implantation of birth control. Savage’s ploy assumes that one’s status as an American is determined by one’s economic output. In contrast, the Christian ethic proclaims that self-worth is defined purely by virtue of having been uniquely created by God.

Savage aims to be and proclaims to be pro-life. To hold the view he does and proclaim the pro-life mantle are contradictory. Savage falls prey to the same logic of the pro-abortion industry—an industry often drawing its boundaries among the economic narrative. Savage may not be promoting the outright dismemberment of our most vulnerable population, but the same guiding principle—one’s economic status—is as equally determinative for Savage as is the pro-choice argument.

Moreover, Savage’s ill-contrived agenda is nothing short of reverse tyranny—a tyranny determined by economic interests at the expense of human procreation.

Such policies are not merely anti-Christian, but demonstrably pro-Tyranny as is evidenced by China’s “one-child only policy.” Savage, who upholds the sovereignty of the free-markets and the self, does not likely see himself an heir of China’s totalitarianism, but the remnant is present. Does Savage not see that mandated birth control is the state asserting its own right over a woman’s procreative rights?

What this evidences is the uniqueness of the Christian ethic and its embattled stance in the world’s many ideologies. Conservative. Liberal. Whatever. Savage is a helpful reminder that no political ideology can absolutize the Christian ethic in its own service.

The American Right need not only be embarrassed by the likes of Savage, but would be well-suited to blacklist such nefarious agendas.

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Posted by Andrew Walker

Andrew T. Walker is an Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.


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  2. Mr. Walker, your commentary on the Savage book, “Trickle Up Poverty,” address a number of salient points in response to proposed mandatory birth control.

    However, I am going to wait to commend your commentary for the following reason.

    You wrote, “Reportedly, Conservative rock star Michael Savage’s new book “Trickle Up Poverty” calls for the forced implantation of birth control devices for all recipients.”

    “Reportedly?” With all due respect, I would prefer to read commentary on a book, especially one that addresses issues such as these, from a writer who has read the book in question. Perhaps you have read it and the term “reportedly” was a slip of the editorial pen, but I have only what was written to read and respond to.

    The problem of low income and very low income women having unplanned, or even planned, multiple pregnancies is one that the public health system has been attempting to help resolve for many years. This attention is not due to a desire to decrease the welfare rolls and cost, but because of the many “costs” to the woman and her family.

    Multiple unplanned pregnancies for low/very low income persons can have a serious adverse effect on the nutritional status of the mother, can have adverse effects on the nutritional status of the fetus/infant and children, and can negatively impact the developmental status of the infant and children. These are significant and legitimate public health concerns and deserve adequate attention through birth control education, increasing access to affordable birth control methods, early identification of pregnancies, the timely entry of the pregnant woman into medical care, nutritional support during pregnancy and the year after for mothers, and nutritional support for the developing infant and child. These concerns are addressed through public health programs, such as WIC and Family Case Management, but alas, the programs are diminishing and even disappearing in some areas due to our current federal and states’ financial crises.

    I, too, share a concern about the number of children being born to illegal immigrants and low/very low income mothers due to the economic burden they place on our society AND because it is exceedingly difficult for those children to grow into persons who can fully realize their potential in our society. This is a complex matter that needs our full attention; the implications of not doing so are both immediate and wait for us in the future. However, you and I are in agreement that forced use of birth control is NOT one of the answers.

    Please note: My comments are not meant to address the issue of illegal immigration. That is a separate subject.


  3. I won’t argue that Savage’s “solution” is intellectually or morally viable. I will argue that the instinct to deny tax payer support for new children while on welfare support is justice and therefore good. For a person to make the decision to have more children to increase one’s own support at tax payer expense is a moral wrong and it must be addressed. Compassion is not the only Christian response. How short sighted of you.


    1. Don,

      “Short sighted” is a pretty terse reply. Notice, I never commented on the correctness or goal of Savage’s agenda; I merely condemned the method. I, too, think it is wrong to bilk “the system” by virtue of having more children. We are in agreement there. Savage’s method, though, is awful.


  4. Forced birth control. where does this fit in the conservative realm of less government and less intrusion.


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