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Pro-Choicers Love Satan, or The Mind-Numbing Cacophony of Religious Language

If you haven't heard the news, a small group of protestors chanted "Hail, Satan" at the Texas Capitol on Monday. Joe Carter over at Get Religion shows he doesn't get religion at all when he works up a lather about the chant not being reported initially by the big media outlets. Bob Smietana of The Tennesseean sets him straight about the video and the timeline and the reporting in the comments if you're interested. First, Carter's misunderstanding and then more about the use of religious language, used once again out of context. 
The AP makes a point of noting the religious activity of the counter-demonstrators (prayed, clutched crosses, sang hymns, the usual stuff), but why do they not mention the religious activity of the demonstrators? For example, what about those who were chanting, “Hail Satan”?

Mr. Carter assumes that a few protestors chanting "Hail, Satan," is religious activity. I suppose that if the journalists present could demonstrate that these were living, breathing Satanists, Carter would have a point. (And he is right that a journalist could and probably should have talked to them.) However, what is happening at the protest has nothing to do with the Prince of Darkness, the views of fundamentalists vis-a-vis abortion notwithstanding. This would only be religious activity if the chanters actually were hailing Satan. What they are doing is mocking the pro-lifers who are busily singing Amazing Grace. Seriously.

The only person caught on video saying "Hail, Satan," looks to be a teenage girl. Yes, there were others saying it, but it was clearly meant as mockery, and I'm going to have to side with the mockers. As I don't believe in Satan, Mr. Carter will need to admit that my siding with the faux Satanists is not religious activity. If I picked up a Bible and read a random passage aloud, would that be religious activity? Doesn't the intent with which I use words indicate the nature of the utterance, or does Mr. Carter believe in magic? 

The pro-lifers in this instance deserve to be mocked, not because of their pro-life stance, though. I readily admit that this is an issue about which reasonable people may disagree. I have my own opinions, but I usually don't share them online. The skewering from both sides is too tedious and reactionary. 

Singing Amazing Grace at a protest that is ostensibly about abortion shows a shocking lack of understanding about the context and how religious language functions. Why are the protesters singing a song about the individualistic nature of salvation—as if that concept isn't dubious enough—at an event where they hope to see legislation passed that makes it more difficult for a woman to get an abortion in the not-so-great state of Texas? Honestly, read over the lyrics if you need to and figure out which apply in that situation. The truth is probably something like this: it was the only song all the protestors knew in common.

The utterly anemic intellectual life of fundangelicals, even including familiarity with their Bible and hymnody, absolutely deserves to be mocked. You are standing at an event at which you believe God needs to move to stop a great evil and you choose to sing about how awesome it is that God saved you? What the hell? Perhaps those pro-lifers present also believe, with Mr. Carter, that words are magic. It doesn't matter the content or the intent, only that they are using them—religious language functioning as some sort of desperate summons for the Holy Spirit to move, mimicking the Apostle's frustration that he doesn't often know what to pray so the Spirit prays for him. To do so, of course, they must affirm their own importance in the cosmic soteriological dance, and because they are so completely devoid of meaningful religious language, they consistently revert to that most trite and self-centered of affirmations: Jesus died for me. 

Mock away, fake Satanists.