WATCH: Befriend those who disagree

The Catholic Sentinel
12/3/2014

The Catholic Sentinel sent a reporter to my event with Deanna and he wrote up a story about it. It also includes some video excerpts from the event, so if you want a sneak peek at the content we will be publishing in full later, check it out!

Richard Dawkins Retweeted My Article, and What We Can Learn From That

Professor Richard Dawkins at Lib Dem Party Conference, Bournemouth Sept 09. Credit Alex Folkes/Fishnik PhotographyAs you may have heard, the Twitterverse exploded in late August when Richard Dawkins tweeted that it would be immoral to not abort a baby diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

He wrote a blog post clarifying his views the following day, and I wrote an article to help pro-life people understand what Richard Dawkins actually believes.  I explained that while his view is offensive and I disagree with it, it does follow naturally from Dawkins’ beliefs that first-trimester babies are not yet persons.

Here is an excerpt from the article on why I wrote it:

Just like in any dialogue with a pro-choice person, we should start by trying to understand Dawkin’s views, and after what I’ve seen on social media in the last week, I’m concerned that many pro-life people don’t get where he’s coming from.  We should be trying to figure out the answer to this question: Why is Dawkins particularly in favor of abortion when the child is diagnosed with DS?  (I’ll give you a hint: It’s not that he hates people with DS)

I strongly disagree with Dawkins’ views on abortion, but now that I’ve read his article, I’m going to try to explain why I believe his view isn’t as offensive as his first tweet was.  One of the reasons I launched Equal Rights Institute is to help pro-life and pro-choice people to have better dialogues.  I believe a necessary condition of having a good dialogue is accurately understanding what the person in front of you actually believes, which is rarely clear in the beginning of a conversation.  I think trying to get into Dawkins’ shoes will be a good exercise.

To read the rest of the article, go to JoshBrahm.com/Dawkins.

The day after I published the article, Richard Dawkins himself retweeted it to his one-million followers.

richard dawkins retweet with arrow

I have an opinion about whether the killing of Michael Brown was an act of self-defense or police brutality, but I consider it to be an ill-informed opinion. Most of my understanding of the controversy has come from reading sources that generally agree with me politically, so I should keep my opinion to myself until I change that.

However, I do have two very strong opinions that I am comfortable sharing:

1. Anyone that strives to be intellectually honest ought to actively fight against confirmation bias (the tendency to search for, interpret, or prioritize information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs). If you haven’t carefully read and considered the reasoning of those who disagree with you, then you have no business making strong, confident statements on the subject.

2. Anyone that strives to be morally good ought not demonize people who have a differing view. The people who disagree with you may well be wrong, biased, foolish, or blind to the facts, but they probably don’t disagree with you because they’re evil. People are complicated, and our reasons for believing things are complicated.

Timothy Brahm

“Interview with Josh Brahm”
by The Schilling Show

Sorry, listening to the audio on this website requires Flash support in your browser. You can try playing the MP3 file directly by clicking here.

Use the button above to stream the audio or click here to download the MP3. (15 minutes)

Questions:

  1. How and when did the pro-life movement become important to you?
  2. Your blog is called “Clear Pro-Life Thinking.” That must be in response to something you’ve witnessed – unclear, muddled pro-life thinking?
  3. Give me a few examples of poor arguments or thinking from the pro-life side.
  4. Tell me about the reasons women have abortions and why “bodily integrity” isn’t listed as one of the reasons.
  5. What is the appropriate response to bodily rights arguments?
  6. Talk about this weird pro-life habit that you call “Fetus Tunnel Vision.”
  7. What are your thoughts on the use of graphic pictures?
  8. What is the pro-life end game? What are you trying to accomplish?
  9. What would you say to politicians who say that they’re personally against abortion but it’s a religious issue so they won’t get involved?

Why Pro-Life People Should Watch “After Tiller”

This is a guest post by my formerly pro-choice friend Deanna Unyk. Read more about how she became pro-life here.  Read about our upcoming event in Portland here.


“After Tiller” is a documentary that follows the lives of the remaining four late-term abortion providers in the United States.  It chronicles their family lives, what they were doing before they started performing abortions, as well as the kinds of harassment and threats they have been the victims of at the hands of pro-life activists.  The documentary also interviews women who came in for late-term abortions.

Watch the trailer below:

This is a very pro-choice documentary, but there are several reasons why I think it is important for pro-life people to watch it with compassion.

After_tiller_filmThe compassionate thoughts that this movie encourages can help us to interact in a compassionate manner when we encounter abortion providers and post-abortive people.  Acting compassionately towards others is both a pragmatically wise and the morally good thing to do.  It is pragmatically wise for the pro-life movement to treat abortionists and post-abortive women with compassion because we want pro-choice people to hear us out, consider our reasoning, and eventually agree with us.  Nobody is going to want to do that if they think we’re all jerks.

Deanna event Portland 640

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am for this event to finally happen.

I’ve been talking about my friendship with Deanna, an atheist lesbian who up until recently was a pro-choice blogger, for over a year. After 21 months of friendship that has impacted us both, we are finally going to meet for the first time!

We will be speaking together at the University of Portland about what made our friendship work as well as practical tips for cultivating friendships with people from different political and cultural backgrounds. The event will be followed by a Q&A session.

We plan to do this event at many universities, but there will be something special about the first one. If you’re in the Portland area, I hope you can come. The event is free and open to the public. Seating will be first come first serve.

I’m planning on publishing the audio from the event in the future.

Date: November 17, 2014
Time: 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Event: Relational Apologetics: How a Pro-Life Christian Guy and an Atheist Lesbian Became Best Friends
Sponsor: The University’s Voice for Life club, the Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture, the Dundon-Berchtold Institute for Moral Formation & Applied Ethics, and Campus Ministry.
Venue: St. Mary’s Student Center
503-943-7131
Location: 5000 N. Willamette Blvd
Portland, OR 97203
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

Want to book this event at your university? Click here to check our availability!

3 Reasons You Should Stay Involved in the Political Process

sacramento_phixr-314It’s Election Day on Tuesday. (Not a Calvinist holiday. People are voting in booths…)

A lot of pro-life advocates are fed up with politics, especially in a state like California where it seems like the pro-life vote doesn’t matter. I have a lot of empathy with people who feel apathetic about the entire political process, but I want to offer a few reasons to stay involved.

I spoke at a pro-life conference in Southern California recently put on by California Pro-Life Council, and Bryan Johnston asked me to spend the last part of my speech encouraging the attendees to stay involved with politics. It’s not a topic I discuss very often, as my work is primarily focused on training pro-life advocates to use better arguments and to form the kinds of friendships with pro-choice people where real heart change is more likely to happen. (Focusing on those two things is why I launched a non-profit organization this year.) After a week of thinking about the issue, I delivered my speech and with my closing few minutes, said this:


With my remaining moments, I would like to encourage you in another way that you can help the pro-life movement: Getting more involved in politics.

*pause*

There are some people in this room right now who are not very excited to hear the rest of this speech, because you trusted a candidate once, and he or she disappointed you.

You not only feel betrayed by that individual, you feel betrayed by the entire process, because it seems sometimes like if you live in California, there is no good that can be done.

So I want to suggest three reasons for why you should stay involved.

I’m looking forward to sharing the vision of Equal Rights Institute at the Fresno County & City Republican Women Luncheon, as well as why I think pro-life advocates should cultivate friendships with pro-choice people.

christmasluncheon

Date: December 4, 2014
Time: 11:15 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Event: Fresno County & City Republican Women Federated (FCCRWF) Christmas Luncheon
Topic: Equal Rights Institute & Relational Apologetics
Sponsor: Fresno County & City Republican Women Federated (FCCRWF)
Sharon Gerardi: 559-292-5414
Venue: Ramada Inn University
559-224-4040
Location: 324 E. Shaw Ave
Fresno, CA 93710
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

Want me to speak to your group? Click here to check my availability!