Stephanie Gray

A March for the victims — that excludes the victims?

Stephanie Gray
By Stephanie Gray

Note: Stephanie Gray is a co-founder and the executive director of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

November 30, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Imagine having a march against drinking and driving and telling survivors of such accidents they weren’t welcome because their disfigured bodies were too disturbing?  Or imagine having a march to ensure equal rights for Blacks, but telling African-Americans they may not participate?  On the contrary, in each case we’d place such victims front and centre.

It’s bewildering, then, that some pro-lifers argue—as several have to me recently—that pro-life gatherings, such as marches, should exclude images of the aborted pre-born.

Historically, marches were effective for campaigns like the Civil Rights Movement because the very people being victimized participated.  By their presence they were able to convey their humanity and equality to others. Often at these events they were attacked by racists, and media would capture photos and convey their inhumane treatment.

What makes pro-life marches different is that the very people being victimized, the pre-born, cannot participate.  Due to their age, the pre-born aren’t capable of holding placards conveying that they are human, the way civil rights activists held signs that said “I am a man.”  Pro-lifers, then, must stand in their stead.  We must tell their stories.  When we gather, we must show the public who we’re gathering for and what we’re gathering against—pictures do that.

Are the images disturbing?  Yes.  But it’s not the aborted children’s fault that their deaths were so gruesome.

Would born children encounter these images?  Likely.  But isn’t it more important that a march against killing save the lives of pre-born children rather than spare the feelings of born children?  And sometimes those bad feelings are exactly what one needs to feel in order to act.

Consider Hannah Taylor.  When she was five years old, she saw a disturbing reality: a homeless man eating out of a garbage can.  People did not complain that young Hannah was victimized by seeing such an injustice. On the contrary, they are inspired by her conviction to help the homeless through her Lady Bug Foundation—something she started when she was eight years old.

Something similar happened to young pro-life activist Lila Rose: “I first saw an image of an abortion when I was nine-years-old in an old book in my home. Being nine-years-old and looking at this ten-week-old child, I remember thinking, ‘How could anyone do this to a baby?’” Because of seeing the victim and the victimization she began to speak out against abortion.

And yet, some pro-lifers claim if pictures of the victims are present, they won’t attend a march.  Their lack of participation in a march is then blamed on the images, with some concluding the pictures are divisive because their presence drives people away.

But any effective social reform movement realizes it does not conform its campaign to the participants, or the public, but rather challenges the participants and the public to conform their lives to truth and justice.  It’s not a movement’s fault that some people refuse to be in the presence of victims.  The movement which stands for truth and justice must not be blamed for the cowardice of those who facilitate the cover up.

Lovers of truth unite.  Lovers of comfort divide.  Things eventually get uncomfortable, and if the idea of comfort reigns supreme, lovers of comfort will leave when comfort does as well.  But the pro-life message isn’t about making born people comfortable.  It’s about enabling pre-born people to keep living. 

As J.C. Ryle once said, “Never let us be guilty of sacrificing any portion of truth on the altar of peace.”  For when we do, it’s not real peace anyways—it’s a perversion of peace.

Pictures prevent society from having perverted peace about abortion, and force a debate into the open so there can be peace in the womb.  Pictures are also the evidence to convict people in a way slogans alone do not.  When we tell the culture to “Defend Life,” but do not give evidence for how the pre-born are lives worthy of defense, the public easily ignores the message.  When we tell the culture “Abortion Kills Children,” but do not give evidence of that reality, the public easily ignores the message. 

And the problem with the public ignoring the message is it’s not we who pay the price.  It’s the babies. 

For over forty years, more than 3 million pre-born children have been legally killed in Canada.  Shouldn’t our expression reflect this tragedy?  If we don’t tell the stories of the aborted pre-born, who will?

Consider how the pro-life movement incorporates the stories of post-abortive women.  It doesn’t merely state, “Abortion Hurts Women,” but rather it proves it with the testimonies of women who have been physically, emotionally, and spiritually wounded by abortion.  Would we ever censor the stories of post-abortive women?  Then why would we censor the stories of post-abortive children?  For if those who have participated in the victimization may have their stories told, all the more should we make room for the ones who are the primary victims.

How do we expect Canadians to include the pre-born as members of our society, if pro-lifers exclude them from our own marches?  How can we expect universities to make room for graphic images, if our own pro-life campaigns will not?  How can we expect society to put lives over feelings, if we ourselves put feelings over lives? 

So imagine a march, where amidst the slogans about life there is signage showing the wonder, dignity, and beauty of the pre-born child.  Imagine a march, where amidst the slogans about killing there is signage showing the dismemberment, decapitation, and disembowelment that is abortion.  Imagine a march, where amidst the slogans about women, there are those courageous souls who share their testimonies of pain and redemption.  That is a message which is holistic.  That is an approach which is evidence-based.  That is a march which will rock the culture.

Only 5 days left!

Support pro-life news. Help us reach our critical spring fundraising goal by April 1!


Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

, ,

Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

Advertisement
Featured Image
Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

Follow Jonathon van Maren on Facebook

Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

Follow Jonathon van Maren on Facebook

Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

Red Alert!

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

Thank you so much for your support. 

Share this article

Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook