When there's blood on the branches, there's often blood on the roots. When political positions directly contribute to human suffering, that rarely comes out of nowhere. There is most often an ideological root, a theological rot, that leads to the suffering. Ideas matters, and our creeds inform our agendas. When carefully scrutinized, we can discern that certain ethical positions, though conventionally on opposite sides of the political aisle, share the same ideological roots. Two bloody branches, though shallowly dissimilar, can share the same bloody roots.
Because of modern politics and media propaganda, many will not see pro-abortion and immigration control views as ideologically connected; however, as we will see, they share many ideological and historical connections. The anti-Christian worldview of humanism and power religion forms the basis of both views. By investigating the historical and ideological origins of Planned Parenthood and some of the United States most influential immigration control organizations, ideological connections quickly come into sharp focus.
Society remembers Margaret Sanger as the founder of Planned Parenthood and an outspoken advocate for birth control. Some historians have stated that Sanger may not have been as consistently and radically pro-choice as history remembers her. However, it is no great surprise that her eugenicist philosophies quickly led to Planned Parenthood's outspoken advocacy for abortion. Of course, this does not even take into consideration the abortifacient nature of most birth control methods, and her various exceptions she allowed for abortion. Ironically, she could probably be considered pro-life today by many, though certainly not an abolitionist.
Sanger, however, was not only concerned with birth control for the supposed sake of women (though that was a primary tactic of her’s and still the favorite of Planned Parenthood). She was deeply concerned about the "good" of society and saw population control and eugenics as a means of creating and sustaining a better society. Birth control was but one tool of Sanger's eugenicist worldview. Another mechanism of her eugenicist goals was immigration control.
It is common for political conservatives and pro-life Republicans to quote Sanger with earned repugnance. She has been often quoted highlighting dehumanizing rhetoric towards who she considers "undesirables." Many Christian teachers love to quote Sanger to connect her to Nazism and leftism selectively. However, while Sanger was making the argument for internal eugenics (birth control), she was praising and supporting external eugenics (immigration control). Not only was she enthusiastically supportive of strict immigration control, but she also positioned support for immigration control as an argument for her internal eugenics/birth control.
In a speech given in 19251, Sanger sang praises for the strict immigration policies of the United States. She declared strict immigration control to be in line with birth control and aligned the rationale for immigration control with birth control:
“. . . the United States Government has become a pioneer by its immigration laws. It is really putting into effect today in it immigration laws, exactly what most Birth Controllers want. The only thing is, while it applies its laws in keeping out of this country the mentally defective and the physically weak and defective, the paupers and the other kind of so-called undesirables, we only wish it would extend its laws a little bit more and stop the multiplication of the same undesirable type within.”
In an introduction to another Sanger speech given in 19282, her supporter praised the birth control and immigration control progress that both the United States and Germany had made. *Note that by the end of the 1920s the Nazi party was the largest political party in the Reichstag. Here again, we see the not-so-strange bedfellows of birth control and immigration control supported by Sanger and fellow population control alarmists:
“In her address she summarized the progress of Birth Control in England and Germany and sketched the international situation in its bearings on America and the other countries now throwing up barriers against immigration. She asked "if certain classes are undesireable as immigrants from the outside why is not the same logic used by the United States to prevent them from being added to the population on the inside?"”
In the same speech, Sanger explicitly connects her eugenicist support of population control with meticulous and steadfast support for strict immigration control. Take care to note that the same dehumanizing language she employs to justify eugenics is likewise, and naturally, used to justify immigration control:
“With all the knowledge that we today posses, it is obvious that it is a crime for generations to come, it is a crime against our civilization to encourage the reproduction of mediocre, diseased or inferior types of groups. Such offspring can only be a burden to the future and retard the progress of the present generation. . . America, on the other hand, considers that she has been overstocked with undesirable elements; that her dream of the melting-pot of assimilating the various races, colors, grades of mentalities through education by an American type of intelligence, has not succeeded. She now regrets her mistake, and has established a rigid system of immigration barriers for her own national and racial protection; and one can assume that from the Immigration Act of 1924, the United States Government recognizes that there is a population problem in this country; that the resources of the land are limited; that unrestricted population increase through unrestricted immigration is bound to invite disaster to the social and racial life of the country. Consequently, a bar is raised to the free entrance of aliens into the United States, and even, when by the quota such aliens are given permission to enter the country, there are still social considerations to be grappled with.
The government claims the right to exclude immigrants whose condition is likely to be a source of danger to the well-being and happiness of the country. Thus there are excluded all idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded persons, epileptics, insane persons, persons of psychopathic inferiority, persons afflicted with tuberculosis in any form, or with any loathsome, dangerous or contagious disease, paupers, professional beggars, vagabonds, persons likely to become a public charge, polygamists, anarchists, criminals, prostitutes, or persons coming to U.S. for purposes of prostitution, or for any other immoral purpose. There are also provisions for the exclusion of illiterates, or of persons 16 years of age, physically capable of reading, but who cannot read English or some other language. All are refused admission into U.S.A. The procedure for the enforcement of these restrictive and selective measures is mandatory. Detailed regulations are laid down for the examination of these immigrants before entry, and for their deportation in case of exclusion.
The government goes even further than this, for even after entrance the government reserves the right to pursue the policy of selection in such cases of criminals or those who have become a public charge--even five years after entry--are liable to deportation at any time.
In no other immigration country is the restrictive policy carried out so far as in U.S.A. This rigid policy of the U.S. Government is the result of its short-sightedness in the past, for while this government never openly encouraged immigration, she took up a neutral attitude toward the question until 1914. She was much like the parents who--not really knowing what shall happen if their family continues to grow--nevertheless do nothing to prevent it. She now has had to adopt a negative, selective quota where she might have in the past adopted a positive, selective quota, and this country would today have been in a position to deal intelligently with some of the intricate problems that she is today unable to face.”
Sanger viewed humanity as a problem. The solution to that problem, for her, was various forms of control. In the tradition of Margaret Sanger, a community of leftist population control environmentalists began to build influence in the 1960s and 1970s. Like Sanger, this brand of population control advocacy supports birth control, eugenics, sterilization, and immigration control (in addition to full and consistent abortion advocacy). However, while Sanger viewed "undesirable" humans as a threat to more desirable humans, this new wave of fascism saw "undesirable" humans as a threat against the environment. This ideological sect focused in on conservationism as their core virtue.
While Sanger was making the argument for internal eugenics (birth control), she was praising and supporting external eugenics (immigration control). — @johnandrewwords
While some sectors of the radical environmentalist lobby focused on anti-pollution legislation and "internal" problems, others focused on the "external" problem of "human pollution." Immigration control, following in the footsteps of Sanger, was just one tool in the humanist toolbox of power and control.
Several of today's most influential and powerful immigration control organizations were founded and funded by one man; Dr. John Tanton. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and NumbersUSA are widely considered the "Big Three" immigration control organizations. John Tanton founded and funded all three organizations, though he funded the second two through his financing front he inconspicuously named, US Inc. There was a need for these groups, CIS and NumbersUSA, to appear to be impartial, so explicit ties to Tanton were kept to a minimum. In addition to the Big Three, Tanton is known to have found at least another dozen nativist, immigration control, and population control organizations.
Senior members of the Trump White House have cited Tanton's organizations3, and Tanton's "heir apparent" Roy Beck still has his now-infamous gumball video4 making the rounds as an immigration control social media meme. Beck is the executive director of Tanton's NumbersUSA and although he has his fair share of issues (besides being endorsed by Tanton and parroting Tanton's views), and I do not have the time to address in this article. By far, Tanton's organizations are the most powerful nativist and immigration control forces in DC. It is challenging to overstate his importance to immigration control policy and rhetoric.
Before Tanton was founding a network of immigration control and nativist organizations, he was the president and organizer of a Planned Parenthood association and the chairman of a second regional Planned Parenthood committee. Tanton has also been on the board of directors of various radical population control groups, conservationist groups, and the chairman of a committee of the infamous radical environmentalist group, The Sierra Club. His wife, Mary Lou, was an ideological ally and also served on various leftist organizations including being a co-founder and President of Northern Michigan Planned Parenthood and other Planned Parenthood and pro-abortion activist organizations5.
Tanton also founded a eugenicist organization innocently (and deceptively) named the Society for Genetic Education. Although leaders within Tanton's immigration control network have attempted to distance themselves from eugenics, the connection is clear and well documented. One of the Big Three accepted over a million dollars from a eugenist foundation, The Pioneer Fund, and Tanton himself wrote a paper in 1975 arguing for "passive eugenics"6. Further, while corresponding in 1995 with a wealthy conservative financier and fellow eugenicist, Robert K. Graham, Tanton wrote that he was interested in bringing "life back" to the eugenics movement7. Tanton is a genuine ideological successor of Margaret Sanger. Much like Sanger, Tanton and Co. have adopted racist genetic determinism views8 that we may explore further in a future paper.
Some may say that these massively popular Big Three immigration control organizations have distanced themselves from the extremist pro-abortion and pro-population control ideas of Tanton since his retirement and death. That would, unfortunately, not be true.
A board member of FAIR, Alan Weeden, is the founder and president of the Weeden Foundation. His foundation actively funds various population control schemes, including the legalization and expansion of abortion "rights" and the promotion of sterilization9.
Sarah G. Epstein is a current board of directors member of perhaps the most influential immigration control group in the country, Tanton's FAIR. She also happens to be a current board member of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington10, as well as a member of the board of directors for Pathfinder International; a pro-abortion advocacy group and abortion provider focusing on territories outside of the United States11. She has also been quoted in the New York Times12 singing her praises for China's inhuman and highly murderous one-child policy:
"I think the Chinese have developed one of the most humane and rational population policies in the world . . . We can learn for our own future. Allowing any pregnant Chinese couple to gain asylum here on assertion of fear of forced abortion at home . . . makes a mockery of our asylum law. . . . Let us work out a rational population policy for our own country and respect policies of other countries that are dealing humanely with the critical need to slow population growth."
J. Bayard Boyle Jr. is on the advisory board of FAIR and is a board member of Planned Parenthood Memphis. On his family's investment firm website15, an article proudly states that:
"He played a key role in fund-raising for Planned Parenthood in the 1960s and '70s, and is a board member of The Pathfinder Fund16, a Boston-based group that raises money for birth control in developing countries."
The rabbit hole goes deeper and deeper. Several more Tanton Big Three board members and advisory board members, both past and current, have strong ties with Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion and pro-eugenics organizations. These groups include but are not limited to Pathfinder International, the Alan Guttmacher Institute (a research group started by Planned Parenthood), The International Projects Assistance Service, Population Institute, Family Health International, Californians for Population Stabilization, Floridians for a Sustainable Population, The Alliance for a Sustainable USA, and more. Several Tanton Big Three board members have also given financial contributions to various pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.
For more information on the connections between pro-abortion advocacy and immigration control advocacy, see this citation packed and thorough paper17 on Tanton and his Big Three published by The Human Life Review18.
But aren't these anecdotal connections? But isn't this the "genetic fallacy?" Could these historical and organizations connections be one big coincidence?
It is certainly possible for an individual or organization to be right on one issue and wrong on another topic. Humans are experts at being inconsistent and being hypocrites. It is, therefore, hypothetically possible that Margeret Sanger, John Tanton, FAIR, and the vast majority of the Washington DC immigration control lobby stumbled upon being correct on immigration. Theoretically, while their positions on other topics and their foundational worldviews run contrary to life and God’s Word, perhaps they are right immigration.
To be sure, this sort of disjointed ideological compartmentalization may be true for some individuals. Nevertheless, for those running the immigration control, birth control, population control, and abortion (life control?) industries, the ideas all share the same humanistic roots.
The Overpopulation Myth
Before we get to the heart of the matter, it is good to address the junk economics of both the abortion industry and the immigration control industry. Both groups regularly make the erroneous claim that because of limited resources and limited economic opportunity, we should attempt to limit the population of the United States (or the world depending on the context). Here is one quote repeating the myth of overpopulation:
“What most frequently meets our view (and occasions complaint) is our teeming population. Our numbers are burdensome to the world, which can hardly support us . . . . In very deed, pestilence, and famine, and wars, and earthquakes have to be regarded as a remedy for nations, as the means of pruning the luxuriance of the human race.”
This is the myth of overpopulation. The overpopulation myth has been refuted by free-market scholars (from both the Austrian and Chicago schools of economics) dozens of times over19. Not surprisingly, the economic fallacies contained in the population control propaganda from groups such as Planned Parenthood and FAIR are near identical. A favorite of these Malthusian groups is the static pie myth. Instead of viewing economic potential as elastic and growing, the proverbial resource pie is concrete and static. Therefore, as the tale teaches, Mexican immigrants take away from an economic pie and tapping into that pie by necessity takes from someone else. Likewise, bringing "unwanted" preborn babies into this world of “limited resources” will take away from the pie and therefore take away from born people.
Sound economic philosophies that reject Marxist myths and defeatist humanism show that resource and economic potential is not limited and can rise to the challenge of a growing population. As RJ Rushdoony wrote in one free market journal20:
“Socialism and fascism, sooner or later, by their very nature depopulate. This is no less true of democratic forms of these evils. The State is used to give methodical form to discrimination. . . the proponents of the myth have a static view of history. They assume that population will increase wildly, but the food supply will remain static. Yet as we've seen the population of the United States double, the number of farmers has decreased, and the food supply has increased dramatically. Many farmlands have returned to timberlands, because they are not needed.”
Through entrepreneurship, scientific development, and innovations in business practices, society has consistently innovated and met the needs of a growing population. Economic potential grows, resources are used more efficiently, different resources are used, and humanity progresses. Rushdoony is right in pointing out that the overpopulation myth is a fruit of defeatism and a view of history that does not see Christ as the victor. Sadly, I have witnessed pro-life activists reject the overpopulation myth on the streets while debating pro-aborts to see them on social media then holding tight to the very same myth while defending immigration control. Inconsistency and hypocrisy overflows.
The above quote repeating the overpopulation myth is credited to the early Christian theologian, Tertullian21. Tertullian died in 240 AD. Every generation has had overpopulation alarmists, and every generation fails to overpopulate. In fact, poverty is decreasing while the population is increasing22.
The Dehumanizing Death Cult of Humanism
The heart of the matter and the ultimate answer to population control pro-aborts and immigration control pro-lifers is an orthodox and vibrant understanding of the Biblical doctrine of life.
In short, life is a blessing. Scripture teaches us that every life is valuable and that God desires his people to protect and diligently strive for the justice of those who are less able to defend themselves (Genesis 1:27, 9:6; Exodus 20:13; Psalm 127:3, 139:13-16; Matthew 6:26). Life is not only a blessing in an abstract or "head in the clouds" spiritual way, but life is also a blessing economically. In other words, a nation that seeks Christ will be sought after by others. Life is a blessing, whether that life is in the womb or the refugee caravan. A blessed nation is a nation blossoming with life, population growth, economic growth, and spiritual growth. This does not mean that every last immigrant is a righteous man by default, but it does mean that the default Christian position is that a growing population is a blessing. That is the Christian viewpoint on life.
Humanism, on the other hand, is a death cult. For all power religion23 and humanistic worldviews, whether they confess it or not, life is a problem to be solved. Depending on the particular context, sometimes the object to be defended is "our" people, while for others the environment is the object of value worthy of tireless dedication. No matter the flavor of humanism, we are left with a death cult that sees humanity, or some segment of humanity, as a problem to be solved.
The humanism of Sanger taught that avoiding life (and sometimes ending life) is a virtue if we perceive that living may be difficult on either the child or the mother. Sanger saw life as a problem in need of a solution. Her solution of choice was birth control and eugenics.
The humanism of Adolf Hitler taught that certain people were a burden and a rot in society. Hilter saw life as a problem in need of a solution. His solution of choice was his infamous "final solution."
The humanism of Planned Parenthood teaches that the choice of the mother is the ultimate virtue and that the preborn are a disposable burden. Planned Parenthood sees life as a problem in need of a solution. Their solution of choice is abortifacient birth control and abortion.
The humanism of John Tanton’s Big Three teaches that we must limit life by any means possible for the good of the environment. These immigration control organizations see life as a problem in need of a solution. Their solution of choice is restrictionist immigration control.
All four are death cultists in the power religion of humanism. Life and humanity is an ever-present dilemma, and every dilemma demands a solution. Whether that solution is abortifacient birth control pills, Nazi gas chambers, ripping apart the preborn, sterilization of minorities, China's one-child policy, concentration camps (of all kinds), or border walls, all of these solutions view humanity as a problem to be solved. The worldview that regards the preborn as disposable is the very same worldview that considers leaving water in a desert for immigrants as a crime. The worldview that sees "the pill" as a necessary hedge against overpopulation is the very same worldview that views restrictionist immigration policies as a necessary protection against "limited" American resources. That worldview is humanism and leads to death and suffering.
I do not believe this worldview takes hold overnight. We are all created in the Image of God24, and because of that, our hearts are empathetic and compassionate. However, we suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). Our hearts grow cold and calloused to those in need and we lack mercy and love. It has been my experience that the quickest route to the rejection and scorn of life is dehumanization.
For the last seven years, I have been active in the anti-abortion movement. I have witnessed first-hand hundreds, if not thousands, of examples of pro-aborts using dehumanizing language towards the preborn to justify their murderous position. I have had countless conversations and debates proclaiming that Image Bearers of God deserve, based on the Image of God in them, dignity, life, and liberty. Pro-aborts regularly call the preborn parasites, blobs of tissue, and many other dehumanizing labels. This dehumanizing has a goal, and that goal is to harden the heart enough to be able to kill.
It is no different for many amongst the population control/immigration control community. Dehumanization of immigrants, especially poor immigrants, has become normalized. Terms that mirror the rhetoric of Margeret Sanger are in widespread use. Immigrants are parasites, vermin, invaders, scum, freeloaders, human weeds, trash, and worse. Dehumanization goes hand in hand with oppression. And like the dehumanization of pro-aborts, this has a goal, and that goal is to make oppression and hatred easier.
Hatred Is Not an Emotion
Sometimes we hold to ideas that we do not confess directly in plain-spoken honesty. Instead, in those less self-aware moments where our mouth speaks from our heart, our words reveal our heart's true confession (Matthew 15:18). Other times, our actions reveal our heart.
A theonomic understanding of God's Law teaches us that both love and hate are not just emotions we have but are bound up in the Law (Romans 13:10, Galatians 5:14). This is why a man or a woman who conspires and acts to kill their child may not show emotions such as anger or malice towards their offspring, but their actions, biblically, show hatred. As love is the fulfillment of the Law (Romans 13:8-13), hatred towards your neighbor (or child) is breaking God's Law. Actions and words can show hatred as much as emotions. The pro-abort officially adopts a confession of choice while functionally practicing a confession of hatred and death.
This dynamic is self-evidently true for the pro-abort. Though (most at least) pro-aborts do not confess their hatred and selfishness plainly, their words and actions speak volumes. Their view, the idea that it is justified to kill little humans in the womb, is borne out of selfishness and their actions show hatred towards their children. Likewise, though the official confession of the pro-life and pro-immigration control Christian may be life and self-preservation, their actions and words show hatred their neighbor. The life of the immigrant is seen as a curse to be avoided, and dehumanization soon follows to temper the guilt of hatred, fear, and oppression.
Though I greatly desire an outpouring of mercy and love for humanity, I readily admit that these things are not easy. Disagreements on practical solutions should be discussed and debated, and good men and women can disagree on immigration policy. Individuals come to their positions for a myriad of reasons, and often debate and persuasion is needed.
However, as can be demonstrated by the argumentation and rhetoric of so much of this debate, what is most needed is not merely a change in a political position, but rather repentance.
Years of dehumanization have hardened our hearts, and generations of cultural pessimism have created a fertile garden for fear. Control, rather than service, is the exalted virtue of most Americans. This is not only true of liberals but also of conservatives. Prolifers reject overpopulation myths and alarmism when debating pro-aborts, but turn around with the very same faithless fearmongering when rejecting the sojourner. We condemn Sanger out of one side of our mouth as we parrot her dehumanizing rhetoric out of the other. We denounce the extremist environmentalism of the Democrats as we buy into their immigration schemes. We are a fearful, hateful, bloodsoaked nation that mocks God and tramples upon our preborn and born neighbors. The bloody branches of dehumanizing ideologies point to bloody faithlessness and disobedience in the roots. May God grant us grace. May God grant us repentance from the humanistic death cult that preaches that people are a problem in need of a solution. May we rest in the sovereignty of God and not in the control of others.
3. Various links to White House connections to Tanton's Big Three. Note how the left reversed their rhetoric on immigration while not significantly changing their actual policies. For either side of the political aisle, many are guided by politics as opposed to ethical convictions.
7. John Tanton. "Letter to Robert Graham." 7 Aug 1995. I also find it insightful that both Graham and Tanton were interested in the Heritage Foundation.
10. FAIR Board of Directors. This page is a good reference for current board of directors members and advisory board members.
12. Sarah G. Epstein, “NYT Letter to the editor.” 15 Sep 1988.
13. FAIR Mourns Passing of Edward H. Harte. Though this short memo focuses on Edward Harte, it also credits Janet Harte as a cofounder of FAIR.
14. The Associated Press State and Local Wire. “Service on Saturday for philanthropist, champion of human rights.” Dateline, Corpus Christi, TX. 26 Feb 1999.
16. Pathfinder Fund funds Pathfinder International, the very same abortion-providing organization that other Tanton Big Three board members fund, support, and operate.
18. The Human Life Review is a respected journal dealing with abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, and other "life issues" from a pro-life perspective.
21. Tertullian. “De Anima: A Treatise on the Soul,” cited in Jacob Viner, “Religious Thought and Economic Society.” p. 34.