Ben Johnson

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Healing, not scarlet letters, promoted at national pro-life prayer service before March for Life

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 28, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The spirit of the National Memorial Service for the Preborn and their Mothers and Fathers was best expressed during the prayer recited as a candle was lit on stage: “We now light the Life Candle, remembering the innocent lives lost and the hope of reconciliation and healing found in the Light of the World, Jesus Christ.”

In historic Constitution Hall on Saturday morning, an ecumenical gathering of 100 or more clergy members encouraged a crowd of hundreds to be active, to pray, and to offer grace and mercy to everyone who had ever taken part in an abortion – including the abortionists.

“Jane Roe, Norma McCorvey, she sends to you this morning her prayerful greetings, and she sends her requests for our prayers,” said Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, during his dynamic homily, entitled “Recall Abortion.”

“She still has terrible wounds for having been the Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade,” he said.

Between litanies of repentance and readings for post-abortive women – and men – and the unborn themselves, speaker after speaker said the violence of abortion can only be stilled when it meets the calm of forgiveness.

“We have to put aside the scarlet letters and the condemnation and show we really do care about those who are frightened, alone, and in trouble,” said Joe Schwartz, reading a statement written by his father, Michael. “The focus is to be upon the mother.” He also asked people to pray for the conversion of abortionists.

Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King Jr., led a litany for those who had died from abortions, beginning with Tonya Reaves, who passed away last year after an abortion at Planned Parenthood, and naming as many as she could. The response was, “Lord, have mercy on them.”

Kelly and Matt Clinger shared their testimony of abortion heartbreak, receiving a standing ovation before leving to fly out to the San Francisco Walk for Life.

One of the morning's two award recipients also reminded everyone present that millions more women will suffer trauma thanks to China's one-child policy.

“Since 1980 when the one-child policy was instituted, the Chinese Communist party boasts that they have prevented 400 million lives, which is greater than the entire population of the United States,” said Reggie Littlejohn of Women's Rights Without Frontiers.

The policy often employs forced abortions, in which the Chinese government kidnaps women from their homes, aborts without anesthesia – and then charges them for the procedure.

“The greatest hemorrhage in the world today is flowing out of China,” she said. “This is the real war against women...Where is the pro-choice movement on this issue?”

“I had no idea what they were doing in China,” 17-year-old Elaina Choo of from Tacoma, Washington, told LifeSiteNews.com. “It brought me to tears.” She said she wanted to learn as much as she can about protecting life, at home and abroad.

Littlejohn received the Pro-life Recognition Award. The award was also given to Michael Schwartz, a movement stalwart who served as chief of staff to Senator Tom Coburn. Schwartz, who is ill, sent his son Joe to received both that award and another from the Catholic business organization Legatus.

Fr. Frank Pavone's sermon brought the focus back to the United States. While the culture of life asks how it may sacrifice itself for others, the culture of death sacrifices others for itself, he said.

“Isn't it amazing that the very same words used by the culture of death to justify abortion are the words used by our Lord to proclaim life and salvation and love: This is my body!'”

“The pro-life movement arose, not primarily as a response to Roe vs. Wade, but as a response to Jesus Christ,” he said. “Abortion is the greatest violation of human solidarity, justice, love, and peace.”

He lamented that even in churches the issue of life is ostracized as "too political." And "when we speak about it in politics, we're told it's too religious,” he said. “In the world of media the topic is too disturbing. In the world of business it's too distracting. In the world of education it's too controversial. In the streets it's too disruptive.”

“So if abortion is wrong, where do we go to say so?” he asked. “We go into the churches, into politics, into the media, into the business world, into education, and into the streets!”

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The clergy's religious diversity showed, however, that the pro-life message is welcome in segments of many churches. “I think we have a denomination for every letter of the alphabet,” said Rev. Rob Schenck.

But Fr. Pavone had no intention of preaching to the choir. He outlined a specific response to every segment of society, calling on the Republican Party “to live out more courageously and consistently the words of its platform concerning the right to life of the unborn”; on the Democratic Party “to change the words of its platform regarding the unborn” and represent “the poorest of the poor, the weakest of the weak, the most marginalized of the marginalized”; on Barack Obama “to change his position” and acknowledge our youngest neighbors; and for government at all levels to “take it off the market, rid America of this failed and destructive product, this false and empty promise.”

All the speakers on the dais stood for life with “no exceptions,” the phrase of March for Life founder Nellie Gray, whose absence hung heavily in every event associated with the first march after her death.

“It was as though a member of my family – my mother or my father – had died,” said Pastor Luke Robinson in his tender personal remarks.

“She gave a national audience to Silent No More,” he said. “She also did that for the African-American community.”

Following her example, hundreds vowed before God to remain faithful witnesses for the most defenseless children.

“Today I commit myself never to be silent, never to be passive, never to be forgetful of the unborn,” they prayed. “I commit myself to be active in the pro-life movement, and never to stop defending life until all my brothers and sisters are protected, and our nation once again becomes a nation with liberty and justice, not just for some, but for all.”

The 19th annual service left everyone who attended uplifted. “I'd been wanting to come for a few years,” Choo told LifeSiteNews. “It was just wonderful.”

The service was sponsored by the National Pro-life Religious Council, the National Pro-life Center, Gospel of Life Ministries, the National Clergy Council, Priests for Life, Faith and Action, and National Pro-life Radio. It was also cosponsored by Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life.

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The first pro-abortion Republican enters the 2016 presidential race

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By Ben Johnson

EXETER, NH, May 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The large and expanding field of would-be Republican presidential candidates grew by one today, as George Pataki became the first GOP presidential hopeful this election season to openly support abortion-on-demand.

The 69-year-old long-shot candidate also has a history of supporting homosexual legislative causes.

In the weeks leading up to his formal announcement, George Pataki took out TV ads asking Republicans to refrain from talking about abortion and gay “marriage,” branding them “distractions.”

“In 12 years [as governor], I don’t think I talked about that issue twice,” he once said of abortion.

On same-sex “marriage,” he says, “I think, leave it to the states. I don’t think it’s a role in Washington.”

However, Pataki has a long history of enacting the homosexual political agenda as governor of New York from 1994-2006. He signed a “hate crimes” law that added the words “gay” and “lesbian” to New York state law for the first time.

He signed the Sexual Orientation Nondiscrimination Act (SONDA), which prohibits business owners from “discriminating” against homosexuals in housing or hiring, with an exemption only for religious institutions.

He also added sexual orientation to state civil rights laws, alongside such immutable characteristics as race and sex, in an apparent quid pro quo for a gay activist group's endorsement in his last run for governor. The New York Times reported that, under pressure from Pataki, then then-Senate Majority Leader “shifted his position on the bill as part of what is tacitly acknowledged, even by Senator [Joseph] Bruno's senior aides, to have been a deal to win an endorsement for Governor Pataki from the state's largest gay rights group, the Empire State Pride Agenda.”

After the LGBT activist group endorsed Pataki in 2002, citing a long list of his service to the homosexual political cause, Pataki personally lobbied senators for the bill's passage, then signed it into law that December.

Coupled with his stance on gun control, environmentalism, and other issues, he stands well to the left of the Republican mainstream.

The three-term governor of New York, who belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, took his own advice by largely avoiding social issues today. The closest he came was his vow, “I'd repeal oppressive laws like ObamaCare and end Common Core.”

He added that he would “fire every current IRS employee abusing government power to discriminate on the basis of politics or religion. That is not America!”

Otherwise, Pataki's announcement speech hewed to stand pat Republican issues like reducing taxes, shrinking the number of federal employees, increasing military spending, and supporting entrepreneurship.

He began by thanking his supporters, in English and Spanish.

Smiling, his head pivoting between twin teleprompters, he said, “Let me tell you some of the things I'd do right away to get oppressive government off the backs of Americans.”

He would institute a lifetime ban on congressmen acting as lobbyists after they leave office. “If you ever served one day in Congress, you will never be a lobbyist,” he said. He favors forcing Congress to live under the laws it passes, so there will be “no special rules for the powerful.”

He cited his history of cutting taxes, reducing welfare rolls, and leaving his state with billions of dollars in surplus. “That's what our policies can do,” he said. “I know we can do the same thing for the United States.”

In recent weeks, he has called for a more interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East. Today, he reminded his audience that he was governor of New York in 9/11. “I will not fear the lesson of September 11,” he said. “To protect us, first we must protect the border,” he said – an unexpected phrase, as Pataki supports amnesty for the at least 11 million illegal immigrants already in the United States.

“We will stand with our ally, Israel, a democracy on the front lines of terror and barbarism,” he said.

Like former Sen. Rick Santorum, who announced he is running for president yesterday, Pataki agreed that “if necessary, American forces will be used to actually defeat and destroy ISIS on the ground – although he promised not to become “the world's policeman.”

Some of his campaign promises drew skepticism, such as seeking to develop self-driving cars and to cure Alzheimer's disease and cancer within the next decade.

The speech's venue was chosen deliberately by Pataki, who considered entering the presidential race in 2000, 2008, and 2012. The town of Exeter, New Hampshire, claims to be the founding place of the Republican Party. (Ripon, Wisconsin, makes a similar claim.)

More importantly, the first-in-the-nation primary skews more libertarian on social issues than evangelical-dominated Iowa and South Carolina, so Pataki has essentially staked his candidacy on doing well in New Hampshire. Fellow pro-abortion Republican Rudy Giuliani made a similar bet in 2008, banking on a good showing among transplanted New Yorkers in the Florida primary. He left the race after finishing a distant third.

Short of a stunning upset in the Granite State, Pataki has little chance of breaking through the pack this year. A Fox News poll ranks him dead last among 16 announced and potential candidates. Holly Bailey of Yahoo! News said, “George Pataki would never say this, but you do have to wonder if he's sort of, maybe, gaming for vice president.”

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Pataki is not the first “pro-choice” Republican to run for president.  Giuliani (who supported partial birth abortion) and Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore (another potential 2016 candidate, who supports abortion during the first trimester) ran in 2008. Twelve years earlier, both California Gov. Pete Wilson and Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter supported abortion-on-demand. Arlen Specter later left the party and became a Democrat.

In 1988, General Alexander Haig opposed a human life amendment to the U.S. Constitution. So did Texas Gov. John Connally in 1980.

George H.W. Bush supported abortion and voted for Planned Parenthood funding early in his career but changed his position by the time he ran for president the second time, in 1988.

President Gerald Ford was the last Republican nominee to proclaim himself “pro-choice.” 

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Ireland ‘defied God’ by voting for gay ‘marriage’: Cardinal Burke

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By Pete Baklinski

OXFORD, May 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Cardinal Raymond Burke lamented how formerly Catholic Ireland has gone further than the pagans in the pre-Christian days of old and “defied God” by calling homosexual behavior “marriage” in the referendum last week.

“I mean, this is a defiance of God. It’s just incredible. Pagans may have tolerated homosexual behaviours, they never dared to say this was marriage,” he told the Newman Society, Oxford University’s Catholic organization, in an address Wednesday about the intellectual heritage of Pope Benedict XVI. The Tablet, Britain’s liberal Catholic newspaper, reported his remarks.

On Friday, 1.2 million Irish people voted to amend the country’s constitution to say: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.” A little over 734,000 people voted against the proposal. 

Burke said that he could not understand “any nation redefining marriage.”

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The cardinal also emphasized the important role that parents play in protecting their children in a culture increasingly hostile to God’s laws. “The culture is thoroughly corrupted, if I may say so, and the children are being exposed to this, especially through the internet,” he said. One practical piece of advice that he offered families was to put computers in public areas to prevent children from “imbib[ing] this poison that’s out there.”

During the same Oxford visit, but during a homily at a Mass the day before, Burke called marriage between a man and woman a “fundamental truth” that has been “ignored, defied, and violated.”

Burke warned during the homily of the dangers of “various ideological currents” and of “human deception and trickery which strives to lead us into error.”

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Why young Christians can’t grasp our arguments against gay ‘marriage’

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By John Stonestreet

May 28, 2015 (BreakPoint.org) -- For five years, Dr. Abigail Rine has been teaching a course on gender theory at George Fox University, an evangelical school in the Quaker tradition.

At the beginning of the semester, she tells her students that “they are guaranteed to read something they will find disagreeable, probably even offensive.”

Writing at FirstThings.com recently, she related how five years ago it was easy to find readings that challenged and even offended the evangelical college students “considering the secular bent of contemporary gender studies.”

But today, things are different. “Students now,” she says, “arrive in my class thoroughly versed in the language and categories of identity politics; they are reticent to disagree with anything for fear of seeming intolerant—except, of course, what they perceive to be intolerant.”

And what do they find “intolerant”? Well, in her class, an essay entitled “What is Marriage?” by Sherif Girgis, Robert George, and Ryan Anderson, which was the beginning of the book “What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense.”

In their article, Girgis, George, and Anderson defend what they call the conjugal view of marriage. “Marriage,” they write, “is the union of a man and a woman who make a permanent and exclusive commitment to each other … that is naturally fulfilled by bearing and rearing children together.” They defend this view against what they call the “revisionist view” of marriage, which redefines marriage to include, among other things, same-sex couples.

“My students hate it,” Dr. Rine wrote. They “lambast the article.” “They also,” she adds, “seem unable to fully understand the argument.” And again, these are evangelical students at an evangelical school.

The only argument for conjugal marriage they’ve ever encountered has been the wooden proof-texting from the Bible. And besides, wrote Rine, “What the article names as a ‘revisionist’ idea of marriage—marriage as an emotional, romantic, sexual bond between two people—does not seem ‘new’ to my students at all, because this is the view of marriage they were raised with, albeit with a scriptural, heterosexual gloss.”

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As Rine points out “the redefinition of marriage began decades ago” when “the link between sexuality and procreation was severed in our cultural imagination.”

And if marriage “has only an arbitrary relationship to reproduction,” then it seems mean-spirited to Rine’s students to argue that marriage by its very nature excludes same-sex couples.

And where do students get the idea that marriage “has only an arbitrary relationship to reproduction”? Well, everywhere—television, church, school, their homes, in youth groups.

Rine writes, “As I consider my own upbringing and the various ‘sex talks’ I encountered in evangelical church settings over the past twenty years, I realize that the view of marital sex presented there was primarily revisionist.”

In other words, once you say, “I do,” you get “the gift” of sex which is presented as “a ‘gift’ largely due to its [erotic], unitive properties, rather than its intrinsic capacity to create life.” Even in the Church, children have become an optional add-on to married life rather than its primary purpose.

What can we do to win back our children, our churches, and the culture? In our recent book “Same Sex Marriage,” Sean McDowell and I lay out a game plan. We offer strategies for the short-term and the long-term, with the ultimate goal: re-shaping the cultural imagination towards what God intended marriage to be, starting with the church. Come to BreakPoint.org to pick up your copy.

As Chuck Colson once said in a BreakPoint commentary about marriage, “We Christians are very good at saying ‘No.’ But we’ve got to get better at saying ‘Yes’: showing how God’s plan for humanity is a blessing. That His ways, including faithful, life-giving marriage between one man and one woman, lead to human flourishing physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Reprinted with permission from Break Point.

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