On Easter, MSNBC's Harris-Perry Calls Babies 'Things' Again, Invites Atheist Feminist to Slam All Faiths

April 1st, 2013 10:11 PM

ABC wasn’t the only network to turn to atheist on Easter morning for some acidulous religion-bashing. MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry turned to feminist Katha Pollitt to rip apart religions as “all invented by men for men” to repress women.

That came after Harris-Perry somehow compared the morality of abortion as a less weighty matter than access to water in the Third World. Once again, like last weekend, Harris-Perry referred to unborn babies as “things,” in this case “things in your uterus” that you can evacuate: 

HARRIS-PERRY: So my only worry about that, is because I feel like a lot, I mean, having an 11-year-old, I do a lot of kids reading that sort of thing. But I feel like we do that, but it`s always about private morality, right? It feels sort of like to the extent that we talk about morality in the public sphere, we talk about private morality, who you should and shouldn't sleep with, how you should or should not dispose of things in your uterus. I mean, you know, this is -- this is what we think of as morality, right? But we don`t talk about public morality, what it means.

For example, in your work, that there are millions of people in the world today without access to water. We don`t call that sin but that certainly feels to me like at least as much sin as sleeping with the wrong person.

CHRISTINA PEPPARD, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Right. I think that those are completely great points. One entree possibly into civic education is precisely in the context of the bullying epidemic that we`ve seen. I had a kindergartner, and so, she'll come home and say, 'Mama, there was a kid on the playground and he said we couldn`t play with him." And we discussed it and worked through it.

I mean, she's 5. OK. But on the point of global problems and --

HARRIS-PERRY: But 5-year-olds get it.

PEPPARD: They do.

HARRIS-PERRY: I'm less worried about them -- in part because they're good socialists, right? So, they figure out how to make it work. I`m more worried about when we want our job and we turn the other people into these hits.

Then came the feminist lecture about religion equals patriarchy:

KATHA POLLITT: Can I say something?


POLLITT: OK. Well, you know, it`s a very good question to ask why isn't religion as concerned about water and economic justice and all these things as it is and as they mentioned sexual morality.

And I would say that`s not an accident. It's not just that they haven`t thought oh, water, right? It`s that one of the things that religion is about is the control of women. These religions were all invented by men for men.

And controlling women is very important. And the way you do that is by regulating women`s sexuality. Men's sexuality a little bit but that`s never been too effective. But if you read the Bible, they`re always going on about prostitutes and harlots and barren women and women who --

ANTHEA BUTLER, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: You know why? Because they`re afraid of the other religions like everybody else, who the women are powerful, right? So, this is a different thing.


BUTLER: That`s the other part of it. It`s like -- how do you -- you repress these women.

But I do think that the more important thing is that if we leave all of the things aside and you start to begin to think about what is the core of humanity, what does it mean to be human, what does it mean to be alive, how are we going to do this together so we can get people clean water and clean air and clean food, because we`re going to wreck this place if we don`t start thinking about this in the corporate way.

Finally, it wouldn't be Sunday on MSNBC without Harris-Perry referring as the feminists do to the "texts of terror" in the Holy Bible:

HARRIS-PERRY: I like that you made the distinction between the religious leadership and the religion themselves, in part because like I get you on the kind of text of terror, as we might call some of what happens around women for example in the Bible. That`s in part because preachers then don`t make a decision, for example to preach Hagar or to preach Mary Magdalene in particular ways, right?

So, it's not even so much that like -- because Bible is also full of Ruth and of women doing these amazing, independent and quite holy things. But I think you are exactly right that the religious leaders have a variety of reasons for wanting to control women's reproductive [affairs].

Harris-Perry's "Foot Soldier" on Saturday was a Muslim woman who runs a shelter for homeless people and victims of domestic violence.