Omar Errs in Her Views on Women -- and Religious Belief

Omar Errs in Her Views on Women -- and Religious Belief
AP Photo/Jim Mone
Omar Errs in Her Views on Women -- and Religious Belief
AP Photo/Jim Mone
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Rep. Ilhan Omar is developing quite a track record for demonizing entire swaths of America, and her latest target is religious pro-lifers.

In a several minutes-long rant better suited to “Mean Girls” than the floor of the House of Representatives, the freshman Democrat from Minnesota accused pro-lifers of being “religious fundamentalists” who are doing everything from trying to “impose their beliefs on an entire society” to “criminaliz[ing] women for simply existing.” 

 Where to even start? 

I suppose we can begin with the way she positions herself as speaking for all American women. It’s the classic sexist trope that if you are a woman you are of course pro-choice. Yet it was a woman, for example, who signed Alabama’s pro-life bill into law. Nearly half of women self-identity as pro-life, and women’s views on the abortion issue run the same gamut – in roughly the same proportions – as men’s. As Gallup recently put it, “Men, Women Generally Hold Similar Abortion Attitudes,” with the exact same percentage of both sexes agreeing that abortion should be totally illegal. 

According to one recent poll, just 13% of women agree with Omar’s view that abortion should have no restrictions at all. Did someone mention something about fundamentalism? More troubling than her abortion grandstanding in the name of the female sex is the suggestion that Americans whose faith informs their pro-life views are insincere hypocrites hiding behind religious liberty. “I am frustrated every single time I hear people speaking about their faith and pushing that on to other people,” she said. 

“We know those so-called religious politicians, when it comes to their life, their choices, they want to talk about freedom," she continued. “But when it comes to other people's lives and other people's choices, they want to talk about religion. This should outrage every single person. It certainly outrages me, and we can no longer stand for it.” 

Whoa. Someone please send the congresswoman a copy of the U. S. Constitution, which clearly spells out that faith is not a disqualifier for public office any more than it’s a requirement -- and that the First Amendment grants Americans a foundational right to openly promote their faith in the public square. This is not a country where you are punished for being vocal about your beliefs. And it is not a country where our politicians use their platforms to shame people for their faith. 

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

That is textbook bigotry. Ginning up fear about a group’s influence is a textbook way to marginalize them and increase social opposition to them. It is profoundly un-American and needs to be called out. 

It’s also misguided, because the contribution of America’s faithful to civil society is a force for good. If there is any domain where religious Americans wield 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 is not Americans in the high-income, urban, 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 middle-American, conservative, moderate-income, religiously active regions who step up the most.” 

Like the residents of Alabama – who, per Omar, aren’t “concerned about children” – for example; they recently set a record for the number of children adopted from foster care.

Memo to Rep. Ilhan Omar: You are not the judge of the sincerity of any American’s religious belief. You do not speak for women. The country that elected you regardless of your faith merits the same respect in return. 

Ashley McGuire is a senior fellow with The Catholic Association and the author of “Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female.” Follow her on Twitter: @AshMcG

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