Christine Dhanagom

Post-abortive actress finds healing on set of reality television show

Christine Dhanagom
Christine Dhanagom
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December 4, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Despite her public career as a Christian actress, Vanessa Ore considers herself a very private person. Not someone who likes to share intimate things about herself with strangers. How she ended up on the set of a Christian reality television program pouring out her soul and surrendering her deepest, darkest secret – a past abortion – is, she says, a mystery of God’s grace.

Vanessa had been invited to participate in the show, titled “Surrendering the Secret,” by its producer, Cecil Stokes. The first episode is scheduled to air on January 22nd, 2013, the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Stokes knew that Vanessa was post-abortive when he invited her to a screening of the pro-life film October Baby which he had produced. Viewing the film was an emotional experience for Ore, and prompted her to share more of her own story with Stokes.

It was then that Stokes dropped a bomb-shell: would she consider sharing her story in a televised bible study focused on post-abortive healing? The “Surrendering the Secret” study from which the show took its name had already brought healing to post-abortive women across the country.

Vanessa can’t quite account for the impulse that drew her to say “yes,” except to say that she didn’t really know what she was getting into until she was there.

“I got into the project not really understanding, not because it was hidden from me, but not really absorbing the enormity of what this project could be,” she says.

Vanessa was a godsend for Geoffrey Rogers, President of Knock TV, the new Christian television station where the idea for the show was conceived.

The original plan, says Rogers, was to produce a short pilot to test the ground-breaking concept of bringing a Christian message to the popular reality television genre. The station had recruited Stokes to produce the show, and found four other women who had already been through the study and were willing to do it again on camera.

Vanessa would be the only one for whom it was a completely new experience. The pilot would pull together fifteen minutes of footage from before, during, and after the study, focused mainly on Vanessa’s experience. After the first day of filming, though, it was clear that something more extraordinary than a short pilot had come together.

“This is not a pilot, this is your first show,” Stokes told Rogers. “There is no casting director that could have picked these women more suitably for this than God Himself.”

“We refocused everything we had, all of our resources, all of our funding, everything, on the first season of ‘Surrendering the Secret,’” says Rogers.

Vanessa, meanwhile, was adjusting to the shock of an experience more intense than anything she had bargained for. While her conversion to Christianity had brought some healing from the abortion she had as a teenager, Ore says she had kept the experience “in this little compartment in my brain,” and never acknowledged the ways that it was still affecting her life. 

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“Some women do see the abortion as something that affected them dramatically throughout their whole life,” she says. “Then there are others that I guess, like me, I didn’t realize that I needed healing until I was in the study.”

According to Jill Marquis, the study’s group leader, Vanessa’s experience is not unusual.

“It’s very common for women to walk out of the abortion going, you know what, I’m fine, it’s dealt with, I’m moving on, great. And we’re really not fine and it manifests itself in different ways for different women,” she says.

Marquis noted that one of the more subtle effects that her own past abortion had in her life was in her relationship with her children.
“I did not have as close a connection to my children because I think that in the back of my mind somewhere I thought that God was going to take them from me, because that was what I deserved,” she said. “Once I had been through this study and I recognized that, it really changed the way that I engaged with my kids.”

The Bible study, she says, is a “paradigm shift,” that allows women to leave their past abortions at the foot of the Cross. Women are encouraged to go through the study at least twice in order to receive that grace more deeply.

“Healing from abortion is a process,” says Rogers, who notes that the transformation of some of the other women in the show who have been through the study before is just as remarkable as Vanessa’s.

For Ore, providence seemed to have arranged an especially powerful first-time experience. As she went through the study, opportunities began to surface to share with others the healing that she was experiencing.

A few weeks into the study, she was contacted by Kendra White, the script writer and producer of the pro-life short film “Aaron.”  White was looking for an actress to depict a post-abortive woman who experiences her aborted son’s forgiveness after imagining a day at the park with him. White had found Ore’s profile on the entertainment industry website IMDb, and had no idea that she was herself post-abortive.

The film was released on LifeSiteNews last month, where it has been viewed over 30,000 times.

In addition to acting projects, an unexpected opportunity arose in Ore’s personal life when a friend called her to say that she was pregnant and considering an abortion.

“I just felt from my heart that God filled me with the words to be the voice of that child. I just spoke truth to her and told her what I was learning in this Bible study,” Ore recalls.

Her friend chose to keep the baby. The experience was a direct answer to Ore’s prayers. During the bible study, she had asked God for an opportunity to minister to a woman considering an abortion.

As she began to open up more to others about her own past, Ore says she has been shocked to realize the number of women who, like her, are on the other side of that choice and suffering from having made the wrong one.

She believes that the show will encourage others to seek the healing that she has found. Her hope, she says, is that her experience will help other women realize that “they don’t have to live in the shame of that decision.”

“There’s forgiveness,” she says with conviction. “Their baby, which is a real baby, is in a beautiful place waiting for them.”

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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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."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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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. 

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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.

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Red Alert!

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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!

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