They have nine children, but they're not Catholic or Mormon. And none of the children are twins.
In a humorous spoof of the famous “Twelve Days of Christmas,” the 11-person Johnston family lays out 11 questions and statements commonly heard about their large family, and on the 12th Day of Christmas answer all of the questions. (“No, we're not a daycare.”)
Based on a video done in 2007 by a family with six children, the Johnstons put their own version together and presented it this weekend at the "Operation Save America" leadership meeting in Concord, North Carolina. The video has since gone viral, with over 13,000 Facebook shares as of noon today. (The family told me they are working on getting it onto YouTube, and will send it when it's up. For now, feel free to watch the Facebook version of the video here.)
It turns out the Johnston family doesn't have a large family by accident. According to Patrick Johnston, a medical doctor and the founder of the Association of Pro-Life Physicians (APLP), he and his wife Elizabeth are “committed to having as many children as the Lord would provide.”
Johnston also told me he is the Director of Personhood Ohio and on the board of Personhood USA. He created APLP to “discriminate against doctors who refer for abortions or commit abortions,” and to be a resource for those who prioritize putting their personal and family medical needs at the mercy of pro-life doctors. The Association has a list of vetted pro-life doctors on its website.
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According to Johnston, the goal of the Association is to “replicate what Hippocrates did in Greece.” He said at the time of Hippocrates, doctors killed patients, and so Hippocrates founded a new genre of physicians that became so popular it led to the famous “Hippocratic Oath.”
The Johnston family’s youngest child is five months old, and the oldest is 15. The family belongs to New Beginnings Ministry, a non-denominational church in Warsaw, Ohio.
Johnston proudly said he and his wife were abstinent until marriage, even waiting the three years they dated before their first kiss on their wedding day. While Johnston was not a virgin prior to marriage, Elizabeth was, he admitted.
Their first child was born nine months and three days after marriage. “We had a lot of people looking at the calendar,” Johnston said. Unfortunately, four of their 13 children were miscarried, which means the family has “four children in Heaven.”
Later this week, Johnston and his two oldest daughters will be going to the slums of India to evangelize and sing. Johnston will also be speaking to physicians on medical ethics.
“Christian physicians are in the dark on the ethics of life” in India, according to Johnston. He will speak on respecting the right to life, and believes part of the problem in India is how the caste system creates inequality on the value of life, even among Christian communities.
The mission will be his family's third. They have visited India once before, as well as Mexico.
Johnston has also authored several books, and he and Elizabeth work to promote home schooling.