With the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court an essentially foregone conclusion, an old and familiar specter has returned to haunt the amber waves of grain where he once roamed free: Conservative God. Conservative God, based on my years of observing his work as presented by Christian conservatives, is a specific mutation of the god that can be found in popular reads like the Bible. Conservative God is distinctly male, angry, a Republican, only blesses the USA, and just like Barrett and most of the right, absolutely deplores abortions and the people who give or receive them.
While Christians all over the country hold different individual beliefs on the morality of abortion and access to it, the religious right has, as we are seeing in real-time, turned it into a political move to unify single-issue Republican voters. With insufficient evidence and lots of shouting, the religious right can spin faith into fact: the faithful must or should hate abortion because Conservative God himself hates abortion. Yet somehow, the Biblical evidence has yet to surface.
Viva Ruiz—a musician, creator of the awareness campaign Thank God for Abortion, and an artist-in-residence at Shout Your Abortion—is on a mission to reclaim the god concept, which she says the right has distorted and weaponized by putting more “Christian pro-abortion propaganda” out into the world. Her latest work is a music video for the “Thank God for Abortion Anthem,” her reggaeton-adjacent song which extols the gospel of reproductive rights for all and the sanctity of bodies who have gone through an abortion. “People who have had abortions,” she posits, “are more holy.”
Ruiz’s messaging is in direct opposition to the beliefs of the religious right, who see abortion and abortion access as an afront to Conservative God. But abortion providers and clinics aren’t just sterile buildings that meet a need; to Ruiz, they are another kind of church. “Abortion providers are doing Jesus-work,” she says.
Ruiz, like Coney Barrett, is of the Catholic faith and has developed a more personal relationship with God, one that transcends the limitations and wrath-centered ethos of Coney Barrett’s Conservative God. “[The religious right] and their [anti-abortion stance] hinge on the pregnant person being invisible,” says Ruiz. “They skip right over to the cells or fetus or embryo being the person.” What Ruiz and Thank God for Abortion seek to do is “shine a light on the pregnant person. That’s who God loves, no matter what.”
But how does one take down Conservative God, one of the most powerful forces in America? Well, as everyone knows from the very important film Wonder Woman, only a god can kill a god. Ruiz’s plan to counter Conservative God is to battle him with Compassionate God. “We have a theocracy. There’s never been a time that God hasn’t been present, separation of church and state never happened,” Ruiz says.
When the religious right is asked to defend their conservative stance on the evils of abortion, they choose random decontextualized portions of the Bible to make their points—usually from the Old Testament, when Conservative God was at his most violent. Ruiz has her own Bible verse to swat away the naysayers: “I give you a new law. That law is, ‘Love each other.’”