Editorial by John-Henry Westen

WASHINGTON, DC, January 30, 2009 ( – To me, one of the most startling things about this year’s March for Life in Washington was the number of pro-life leaders who expressed a real hope that President Barack Obama would convert and become pro-life.  I don’t mean that regular hope that we all retain (especially us converts or reverts) that no one is ever lost completely until death.  I mean a hope with a sprinkle of real optimism.

Speaking with EWTN personality Father Benedict Groeschel after the Vigil Mass for the March for Life on January 21, the saintly priest said, “I’m praying that the present Administration may fool them all and have a conversion. Why not pray for that?”  Just plain old hope you might say.  But the co-founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal added: “And it’s interesting, that one of New York’s prominent newspapers – we generally refer to it as the Gray Lady – has criticized Obama almost every day for four weeks for being too conservative.  Isn’t that an interesting turn of events?  So let’s see how that one plays out.”

Speaking the next day with veteran pro-life leader Joe Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League, I got that same sentiment.  Scheidler talked to a group of pro-life activists gathered for the March about Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope; and he concluded that the President is “obsessed with abortion.”  The book mentions abortion 26 times. 

Scheidler encouraged his listeners to pray for Obama’s conversion, to work on him.  “Anybody is subject to conversion,” he said.  “Because of his obsession, I think we have a chance,” he added.  Scheidler told me he prays for Obama’s conversion “every day,” adding, however, that he will naturally fight Obama on his anti-life policies “tooth and nail” and not count on a conversion.

Nellie Gray, the leader of the March for Life in Washington, took the optimism to a new level as she told the March for Life participants from the stage that she really believed that Obama would convert and bring an end to abortion.

To be fair, these remarks were made prior to Friday January 23, when Obama overturned the Mexico City Policy.  However, they speak to the sense that Obama is, fundamentally, a ‘good guy.’  This image plays not only to the masses who are Obama fans and those who accept his TV image, but also to those viewing him critically. 

Obama’s warm reception and engagement with Evangelical Pastor Rick Warren did much to render that image.  ‘If he can get along with pro-life and pro-family Rick Warren’, the logic goes, ‘then he can’t be all that bad.’ Indeed Obama is not a raving anti-Christian lunatic who wouldn’t give the likes of Warren the time of day.  Rather Obama is measured, friendly, even “spiritual,” a hero for worldly wisdom, if you will.

However, given Obama’s steadfastness in pursing the anti-life and anti-family agenda this image of friendliness, of being a ‘good guy’, could turn out to be one of his most dangerous attributes.  Worse than a raving madman who would target pro-life and pro-family Americans, displaying, as it were, his “true colors,” would be an affable and apparently good-hearted man who could convince America that for the greater good of the nation, pro-life and pro-family Americans should be ‘converted’ to the new morality, even coercively, under the pretense that it is in their own best interests.

Those thoughts aside, we too hope for Obama’s conversion.  But we must see it for what it would really be – a conversion like that of the Biblical St. Paul.  Saul, as he was called prior to his conversion, witnessed and consented to the martyrdom of St. Stephen, and, as the Scripture says, “Saul made havoc of the church, entering in from house to house, and dragging away men and women, committed them to prison.”

I hope and pray for Obama’s conversion, because nothing is impossible with God. And I hope that his conversion comes about soon, to spare the lives of countless unborn children, to spare misery to their mothers, and spare the rights and freedoms of Christians in America.  If this were to happen before the end of June it would be fitting, since Pope Benedict XVI declared June 2008-June 2009 the year of St. Paul, in celebration of the 2,000th anniversary of the saint’s birth.


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