Omar is mistaken in his views on women – and religious belief

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Representative Ilhan Omar is building a track record strong enough to demonize entire swathes of America, and her latest target is the religious pro-life.

In a rant lasting several minutes better suited to “Mean Girls” than to the floor of the House of Representatives, the first-year Democrat from Minnesota accused pro-lifers of being “religious fundamentalists” who do everything from try “to impose their beliefs on a whole society” to “criminalize[ing] women just to exist.

Where to start ?

I guess we can start with how she positions herself as speaking on behalf of all American women. It’s the classic sexist trope that if you’re female, of course you’re pro-choice. Yet it was a woman, for example, who enacted Alabama’s pro-life bill. Almost half of women identify as pro-life, and women’s views on the issue of abortion cover the same range – in roughly the same proportions – as men. As Gallup recently put it, “men and women generally have similar attitudes about abortion,” with exactly the same percentage of both sexes agreeing that abortion should be completely illegal.

According to a recent poll, only 13% of women agree with Omar’s view that abortion should be unrestricted. Has anyone mentioned fundamentalism? More disturbing than his demagoguery on abortion on behalf of the female sex is the suggestion that Americans whose faith informs their pro-life views are bad faith hypocrites behind religious freedom. “I get frustrated every time I hear people talk about their faith and pass it on to others,” she said.

“We know these so-called religious politicians, when it comes to their lives, their choices, they want to talk about freedom,” she continued. “But when it comes to the lives of others and the choices of others, they want to talk about religion. It should offend every person. It certainly offends me, and we can’t stand it any longer.”

Wow. Someone please send the member of Congress a copy of the United States Constitution, which clearly states that faith is no more a disqualification from public office than a requirement – and that the Prime Amendment grants Americans a fundamental right to openly promote their faith in public. This is not a country where you are punished for expressing your beliefs. And this is not a country where our politicians use their platforms to shame people for their faith.

America gave Omar a chance to learn this lesson after offending the Jewish community with multiple remarks widely condemned as anti-Semitic just months after the deadliest attack on Jews on American soil. Interestingly, what his comments on the Jews have in common with his tirade against Christians is his fear of their influence.

It is the fanaticism of the textbooks. Creating fear of a group’s influence is a classic way of marginalizing them and increasing social opposition to them. He is deeply anti-American and must be denounced.

It is also misguided, because the contribution of the American faithful to civil society is a force for good. If there is one area where American clerics exercise extraordinary influence, it is not politics, but philanthropy. It is a known fact that people of faith are more likely to give charitably. As the Philanthropy Roundtable put it, “religion motivates giving more than any other factor”.

“It’s not Americans in high-income, urban, and liberal states like Massachusetts or California who are our most generous citizens,” adds Karl Zinsmeister, author of the Almanac of American Philanthropy. “Rather, it is residents of conservative, moderate-income, religiously active parts of Central America who are stepping up the most.”

Like the people of Alabama – who, according to Omar, are not “concerned about the children” – for example; they recently set a record for the number of children adopted into foster care.

Memo to Representative Ilhan Omar: You are not the judge of the sincerity of an American’s religious belief. You don’t speak for women. The country that elected you regardless of your faith deserves the same respect in return.


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