Patrick Craine

Exclusive interview: ‘Join me’ challenges Canadian pro-life prisoner of conscience

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine

TORONTO, Ontario, June 7, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After being released from prison on Friday, pro-life advocate Linda Gibbons is preparing yet again to challenge the injunction that has landed her in jail for nine of the last 17 years.  But this time, she’s calling on other pro-lifers to join her campaign.

“I really feel if we’re going to turn this around, there has to be some kind of a mobilization,” said Gibbons, who spoke with LifeSiteNews from her temporary quarters in Toronto on Monday.  After her lengthiest prison stay to date, the grandmother and devoted prisoner of conscience plans to head right back to jail again at the end of July.

Gibbons’ campaign against the injunction has gained notoriety in the last year, propelled by the length of her most recent imprisonment, with multiple cover stories in the National Post and growing rumblings from pro-lifers about joining her.

“I think that it should be a movement. … Our witness at the abortion clinic is saying we’re here with our bodies,” she said.  “And when the court says, ‘Well, no you’re not going to be here,’ we’re saying, ‘Well, regardless of the cost, regardless of the risk.’”

A life-saving witness

Gibbons was freed Friday after 28 months of uninterrupted imprisonment for witnessing prayerfully outside Toronto’s Scott abortion facility.  It is one of several in the city that is protected by a 1994 court injunction banning pro-life activity within a specified zone.

Though Gibbons has repeatedly been prosecuted by the Crown in a criminal court, the “temporary” injunction was actually instituted in a civil court at the request of Bob Rae’s NDP provincial government.  It came amidst calls for a government crackdown against the pro-life movement after they were declared guilty by the media for the 1992 bombing at abortionist Henry Morgentaler’s Toronto facility.

Charges were never laid in that bombing, however, and the prime suspect was the father of a child aborted at the facility.  A Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) report even suggested the bombing was likely perpetrated by pro-abortion activists.

Nevertheless, the injunction has had the effect of silencing pro-lifers’ freedom of speech, and effectively shutting down the life-saving work of sidewalk counselors and vigil-keepers.

Gibbons, who has dedicated her life to challenging the injunction, called it a “political construct” that lacks “legal propriety” and “proper authority.”  She noted that the injunction itself states the pro-life activity was threatening the financial interests of the abortionists.  “[The government is] extorting money from Canadian citizens to pay hired killers to butcher babies,” she said.  “The injunction [is] to protect that activity.”

“Since when does a government have an obligation to the commercialization of killing?  The government’s duty is to protect life,” she added.

Though she could be released on bail, Gibbons has remained behind bars for long stretches because she steadfastly refuses in conscience to accept a bail condition that requires her to stay away from the abortion facilities.  Signing the bail papers, she told LifeSiteNews, would be to say, “Yes I will cease defending innocent unborn children that are about to be killed.”

“I have no intention of agreeing to that.  It violates principles.  It violates conscience,” she explained.

‘Are you pro-lifers really acting like abortion is murder?’

Gibbons’ 17-year campaign has been fueled by a deep love for children in the womb, and hence a keen awareness of the atrocity of abortion.  She has taken to heart a question she was asked once by a Jewish reporter from the Ottawa Citizen: “Are you pro-lifers really acting like abortion is murder?”

“If a two-year-old was being murdered next door, you’re not going to sit down and write a letter to your MP,” she explained.  “That we need to do more, that’s obvious, obvious. … If I was going into a house to save a child from a fire, no one’s going to charge me with trespass for that.” At the same time, she insists that she has no interest in calling into question the efforts of pro-lifers who do not join her campaign.

But for Gibbons, the effort is a simple question of maintaining an authentic Christian witness.  “If the Church is not seen defending life, it puts the impression that Christ is not really concerned about it,” she said.  “The way the Church acts and behaves gives validity to our beliefs.”

She has often been asked if she regrets the time lost with family and the missed birthdays, marriages, and graduations.  “When we’re having unborn children slaughtered at the rate we are in Canada, … should our lives go on as normal?” she asked in response.  “It’s not normal to live in the Holocaust and sort of pretend it’s not happening.”

“I want [my life] to be a witness that the lives of these children cannot be forgotten,” she continued.  “I’m ready to surrender all my assets, … all my time. [Otherwise,] we’re saying these babies must be allowed to die so I can stay in my comfort zone.  Because what we say then is it doesn’t matter.”

“When we begin to suffer for the unborn, our identification with them, that’s when we’re going to impact society, when they see that,” she added.  “The Church is not hurting enough for the unborn.  When we start feeling their hurt in a real concrete way, then things are going to change, because then we’re saying very clearly that this cannot go on.”

Saving babies in prison

Gibbons has been a vocal critic of conditions at Milton, Ontario’s Vanier Centre for Women, where she says women in outer cells are subjected to hypothermia-like conditions as a result of the cold.  And she admits that the length of her stay this time around had her convinced that she would never get out.

Nevertheless, she puts her jail time to good use, counseling women struggling with drugs, alcohol, and prostitution, keeping the peace as needed, and spreading the Gospel through one-on-one conversations or by leading Bible studies with small groups.

“I treat them like my daughters.  I call them my girls.  It’s a matter of just trying to love them where they’re at,” she said.

In fact, in her most recent stint she was able to convince three pregnant prisoners to keep their babies, and connected them with a Toronto pregnancy resource center when they left.

‘As long as God gives me life and breath’

While the grandmother would normally turn around to challenge the injunction again in less than a week, this time she’s going to take a brief break in order to visit her 89-year-old mother and take care of medical needs.  But she says she’ll be back at it by the end of July, and is committed to the cause until the very end.

She said she will continue to challenge the injunction “as long as God gives me life and breath.  If I can get out of bed and put my feet on the floor, then I want to continue.”

“My mission is to be all that Christ wants me to be.  It is his mission and we are simply walking with Christ,” she said.  “It becomes simply a daily moment-by-moment walking with Christ.”

See the LifeSiteNews Feature page, Linda Gibbons, Prisoner of Conscience, listing many past reports on her efforts to steer vulnerable women away from making the same mistakes that she herself made.

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

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By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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