In a recent MSNBC segment, Joy Reid insinuated that “far-right” policies — in which she included policies protecting preborn humans from death by abortion — to be born out of nothing more than religious extremism and white supremacy. Equally as inflammatory, she likened those who believe in these values to be akin to people who participated in the slave trade and the Salem Witch Trials.
For Reid, this is not an unusual argument; the MSNBC host has previously compared pro-life advocates to members of the Taliban.
According to Newsbusters, during a recent episode of The ReidOut, Reid began by discussing her own personal history in a segment titled “The Origins of White Supremacy.” Reid explained that she and her husband recently traveled to Ghana, where she and her husband’s ancestral families both originated, and claimed that Christianity was central to white supremacy in the United States, including the slave trade. She further added that people were forcibly converted to Christianity, and if they did not agree, they were killed.
But the slave trade and the white supremacy movement, which have at times each couched themselves in the language of Christianity to justify their heinous beliefs and deeds, have never actually followed the tenets of Christianity and have instead warped and twisted Scripture to lend credence to their own ideologies. Christianity originated in the Middle East among Jews and is believed to have spread to Africa a millennia before Western Europeans arrived at Africa’s shores. Even the BBC acknowledges the very early spread of Christianity to Africa (emphasis added):
Christianity first arrived in North Africa, in the 1st or early 2nd century AD. The Christian communities in North Africa were among the earliest in the world. Legend has it that Christianity was brought from Jerusalem to Alexandria on the Egyptian coast by Mark, one of the four evangelists, in 60 AD. This was around the same time or possibly before Christianity spread to Northern Europe.
Once in North Africa, Christianity spread slowly West from Alexandria and East to Ethiopia…. In the 4th century AD the Ethiopian King Ezana made Christianity the kingdom’s official religion. In 312 Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.
In the 7th century Christianity retreated under the advance of Islam. But it remained the chosen religion of the Ethiopian Empire and persisted in pockets in North Africa.
In the 15th century Christianity came to Sub-Saharan Africa with the arrival of the Portuguese. In the South of the continent the Dutch founded the beginnings of the Dutch Reform Church in 1652. In the interior of the continent most people continued to practice their own religions undisturbed until the 19th century. At that time, Christian missions to Africa increased, driven by an antislavery crusade and the interest of Europeans in colonising Africa.
However, where people had already converted to Islam, Christianity had little success.
Reid claimed, “Among those who did survive was my own maternal ancestor, a Fulani Muslim woman named Yhara Waboosia, later a converted Christian renamed Mitchie Johnson,” she said. “She was born in 1800 in Ghana, and as a six or seven-year-old, was incarcerated in one of those slave castles in Ghana, and shipped to present day Guyana with her mom. She actually lived to be 106 years old. She died in 1906, 23 years before my own mother was born.”
Reid further added that this is recent history, and then began a bizarre, run-on rant tying religious extremism to positions like opposing abortion:
[T]he last thing I will add is when you look at the sometimes violent history of organized religion from the slave trade to the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials to the religion-based conflicts and conquests in places like Israel-Palestine or the emergence, again, per Robbie Jones, of right-wing Christianity-based white supremacy here in the U.S., it should not surprise you that the base of support for far-right policies on banning books and distorting history, on abortion, on LGBTQ issues, even support for cults like QAnon and the cult of personality around Donald Trump, are grounded in religious extremism.
It has become fashionable lately for abortion activists to compare the pro-life movement to slavery and misogyny. But in reality, abortion is related to slavery and misogyny in a very different way than they claim. Slavery, misogyny, and abortion all rely upon the dehumanization of human beings, so that a stronger class of people can subjugate them to their own personal whims.
It’s also shameful and dishonest to frame the pro-life movement as being one solely reliant upon right-wing Christians; there are people within the pro-life movement of every political persuasion, and it also does not rely upon a person’s religious beliefs — or lack thereof. The pro-life movement rooted in science, acknowledging the biological reality that preborn children are living, growing human beings… and that all human beings deserve the right to life, from conception to natural death.