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Pro-life film ‘Doonby’ hits ground running with top-tier endorsements

Patrick Craine

March 9, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The mainstream pro-life movie ‘Doonby’ has hit the ground running in its initial release in Mississippi and Dallas – with plans to expand to the wider North American and international markets – and is winning some high-level endorsements.

After the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family praised the movie in a glowing review last month, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, hosted a screening last Saturday in Glasgow where he called the film a rallying call and pledged his full active support when it is released in Scotland and the UK.

“I say that if this film assists in helping people in our society to take more seriously their responsibility in weighing up their moral choices, then it will have served an important purpose,” he said at the event, which took place at Glasgow Caledonian University.

“There is more than ever a great need for films like ‘Doonby’ to continue to arouse the interest and concerns of our peoples,” he wrote in an e-mail to the producers.

The movie features Dukes of Hazzard star John Schneider as Sam Doonby, a mysterious drifter whose appearance in a small Texas town changes the lives of its residents. Its surprising ending showcases the good that one life can accomplish and the devastating hole left when a life is lost.

Though the treatment of abortion could be described as a sub-plot, it undergirds and informs the broader theme, which is, in the words of writer and director Peter MacKenzie: “Every life is important.”

Mackenzie told LifeSiteNews that the film sold out two screens on its first night in Dallas on Feb. 24th.

“We were asked by the theatres to hold the film over for a second week in two cinemas and we performed very well in this test launch with small funding up against big Studio pictures in the multi-screen cinema complexes,” said Mackenzie. “We are now talking with investors to provide the funds to roll out the movie across the States and then internationally.”

Asked about the film’s inspiration, the Irish citizen said it goes all the way back to 1967 when the U.K. Parliament passed its Abortion Act, legalizing the deadly procedure up to 28 weeks.

“I became aware right away that this would very shortly become abortion-on-demand, which it was,” he said.

But he stressed that it was important to him to make a mainstream film to bring the message beyond a merely pro-life audience.

“Faith groups are a core audience, but it’s a mainstream movie. We really want to provoke debate, give people something to talk about and think about,” he said.

“The film isn’t judgmental in any way, it’s asking questions,” he said. “Obviously I have a view on the life issue, but I don’t want to preach or hit somebody over the head with it. But what I want to do is make people think and go ‘wait a minute, this is a very serious issue.’”

It would be “an absolute disaster,” he said, if the film came across as preachy.

If that happened, “the very people I want to talk to, these people are not going to go and watch it,” he explained. “It’s all very well preaching to the choir. You can get everybody behind it and it makes you feel good, but it’s not what I really want it to be.”

The director said that, if portrayed well, the Christian message can appeal to a broader audience, but he also insisted that a pro-life stand is not strictly Christian.

“For me it’s a basic moral issue, an ethical issue. It’s about mankind, ourselves as a breed or a species,” he explained. “You’re not going to go around killing your young. It’s not a good idea. I mean, particularly for convenience.”

“The other thing is when people decide when it is a life,” he added. “Is it 24 weeks, is it 28 weeks, 22 weeks? I mean, when is it? How dare we. … Based on what? It’s totally arbitrary.”

The film made headlines last year over a strange coincidence – what many might call providence – that led to “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade playing a key role as a character trying to convince a young woman not to have an abortion.

MacKenzie said someone had suggested the idea of casting Norma McCorvey, who has since become a strong pro-life activist, but he dismissed it because they did not know where to find her. But her name was brought up again while they were beginning to film in Smithville, Texas, and Mackenzie was shocked when local townspeople told him she lived just around the corner from the set.

McCorvey, who moved to Smithville in 2009 without any particular ties to the community, says the role made the reason for her move clear.

“I guess you could say the project chose me. God told me to move there two years before but didn’t really tell me why. So I obeyed. I had no family there, no friends. I just obeyed,” McCorvey told the Hollywood Reporter.

MacKenzie told the news service that McCorvey’s role was significant because she “encapsulated American thinking on the issue.”

The film has earned high praise from pro-life, pro-family, and religious leaders.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, calls it “engrossing.” Lord David Alton says it is “thought-provoking,” “clever,” and “brilliant.” And Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women For America, calls it “riveting.”

The film got an added boost late last month as it went into its first release when it earned the endorsement of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family. MacKenzie had screened it at the Vatican in the summer of 2011.

Father Gianfranco Grieco, O.F.M. Conv., the Council’s office head, wrote Feb. 12th in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s semi-official paper, that the film is a “moving and thought-provoking psychological thriller.”

The priest says the “haunting finale … will linger in your mind and obsess your consciousness as you tackle a puzzle that will challenge each and every perception or conviction, while you experience forlorn feelings of speechlessness and shock, but ultimately of liberation.”

MacKenzie said he was “humbled” by the glowing review.

The film has no sex scenes or other racy material and is recommended by the Dove Foundation, a popular site of family-focused reviews, for those aged 12 and over. One scene involves a woman lying naked in bed, but she is covered and portrayed tastefully and the scene’s message is actually a testament to moral virtue.

In addition to Schneider, Doonby’s co-stars include Jenn Gotzon, Joe Estevez, pro-life activist Jennifer O’Neill, Will Wallace and Robert Davi.

Mackenzie says once they have their investors in place they plan to release the film on 100 screens in cities like Houston, Austin, Phoenix, LA, Denver, Nashville, Washington, and New York, and then shortly afterwards expand to 500 screens.

Once the investors have recouped their costs, ten percent of all net profits will be donated to the pro-life cause.

Find more information on Doonby.



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Princeton Professor Robert George speaks at the Legatus conference. Steve Jalsevac / LifeSiteNews
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Princeton’s Robert George: Are you ready to pay the price? The days of socially acceptable Christianity are over

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ORLANDO, February 4, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- “It is no longer easy to be a faithful Christian, a good Catholic, an authentic witness to the truths of the Gospel,” said Princeton Professor Robert George to a large crowd at the Legatus Summit in Orlando, Florida last weekend. Professor George added that people can still safely identify as “Catholic” as long as they don’t believe, or will at least be completely silent about, “what the Church teaches on issues such as marriage and sexual morality and the sanctity of human life.”

He said “the guardians of those norms of cultural orthodoxy that we have come to call ‘political correctness,’” will still grant a comfort to a Catholic ashamed of the Gospel, “or who is willing to act publicly as if he or she were ashamed.”

The Princeton professor, who has been a leader in the fight for life and marriage, reminded his audience of Christ’s words: “If anyone wants to be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me.” “We American Catholics, having become comfortable, had forgotten, or ignored, that timeless Gospel truth. There will be no ignoring it now,” he remarked.

Are we “prepared to give public witness to the massively politically incorrect truths of the Gospel, truths that the mandarins of an elite culture shaped by the dogmas of expressive individualism and me-generation liberalism do not wish to hear spoken?” he asked.

For Catholics, and Evangelicals in America, he said, “it is now Good Friday.”  To a rousing standing ovation Professor George concluded:

The memory of Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem has faded.  Yes, he had been greeted—and not long ago—by throngs of people waving palm branches and shouting ‘Hosanna to the Son of David.’  He rode into the Jerusalem of Europe and the Jerusalem of the Americas and was proclaimed Lord and King.  But all that is now in the past.  Friday has come. The love affair with Jesus and his Gospel and his Church is over.

Fearing to place in jeopardy the wealth we have piled up, the businesses we have built, the professional and social standing we have earned, the security and tranquility we enjoy, the opportunities for worldly advancement we cherish, the connections we have cultivated, the relationships we treasure, will we silently acquiesce to the destruction of innocent human lives or the demolition of marriage? Will we seek to ‘fit in,’ to be accepted, to live comfortably in the new Babylon? If so, our silence will speak.  Its words will be the words of Peter, warming himself by the fire:  ‘Jesus the Nazorean? I tell you, I do not know the man.’

The saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ includes, integrally, the teachings of His church on the profound and inherent dignity of the human person and the nature of marriage as a conjugal bond—a one-flesh union….

The question of faith and fidelity that is put to us today is not in the form it was put to Peter—“surely you are you this man’s disciple”—it is, rather, do you stand for the sanctity of human life and the dignity of marriage as the union of husband and wife?  These teachings are not the whole Gospel—Christianity requires much more than their affirmation.  But they are integral to the Gospel—they are not optional or dispensable.  To be an authentic witness to the Gospel is to proclaim these truths among the rest. The Gospel is, as St. John Paul the Great said, a Gospel of Life.  And it is a Gospel of family life, too.  And it is these integral dimensions of the Gospel that powerful cultural forces and currents today demand that we deny or suppress.

One day we will give an account of all we have done and failed to do. …

One thing alone will matter: let me say this with maximum clarity—whether we stood up for the truth, speaking it out loud and in public, bearing the costs of discipleship that are inevitably imposed on faithful witnesses to truth by cultures that turn away from God and his law. Or were we ashamed of the Gospel?

If we deny truths of the Gospel, we really are like Peter, avowing that “I do not know the man.”  If we go silent about them, we really are like the other apostles, fleeing in fear. But when we proclaim the truths of the Gospel, we really do stand at the foot of the cross with Mary the Mother of Jesus and John the disciple whom Jesus loved. We show by our faithfulness that we are not ashamed of the Gospel. We prove that we are truly Jesus’s disciples, willing to take up his cross and follow him—even to Calvary.

But lest we fail the test, as perhaps many will do, let us remember that Easter is coming.  Jesus will vanquish sin and death. We will experience fear, just as the apostles did—that is inevitable. Like Jesus himself in Gethsemane, we would prefer not to drink this cup.  We would much rather be acceptable Christians, comfortable Catholics. But our trust in him, our hope in his resurrection, our faith in the sovereignty of his heavenly Father can conquer fear.  By the grace of Almighty God, Easter is indeed coming. Do not be ashamed of the Gospel.  Never be ashamed of the Gospel.



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Planned Parenthood investigator Daleiden refuses plea deal: ‘What we really want is an apology’

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URGENT: Sign the petition to Harris County urging them to drop the charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt. Click here.

HOUSTON, February 4, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - This morning, Harris County prosecutor's office offered David Daleiden a plea deal. His legal team, in turn, made a counter-offer.

"The only thing we're going to accept right now is an apology," said Terry Yates, one of four attorneys who flanked Daleiden down the corridors of the courthouse as he visited two court rooms to face felony and misdemeanor charges.

He confirmed an offer had been made but was unlikely to be accepted.

Instead, Yates said that a hearing before Judge Brock Thomas of Texas District 338 had been scheduled for March 28. "At that time, we anticipate filing a couple of motions" asking that all charges be dismissed at once. "We believe the indictments are factually and legally insufficient."

"The old Texas expression 'all hat and no cattle' - that's what we believe these indictments are. There's not much to them," he said.

Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society reiterated that stance during a press conference co-hosted by LifeSiteNews at 11 a.m. local time.

When asked if Daleiden would plead guilty to lesser charges offered by Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, Breen replied, "At this point, no."

"What we really want is an apology," Breen said, standing next to fellow counsel Briscoe Cain, Texas attorney for Operation Rescue. "He deserves an apology...He is innocent."

His legal team felt certain he would prevail on the substance of the charges without admitting guilt to any of them.

"The reality is David is a modern day hero," Jared Woodfill, another Daleiden attorney, told LifeSiteNews inside the courthouse. "He has exposed the wrongdoing that has been occurring at abortion clinics all across this country. And the fact that he's here today is a miscarriage of justice."

"He will be vindicated," he said.

The 27-year-old Daleiden appeared unflappable - smiling, well-groomed, wearing a black jacket, blue shirt, and black tie as he spoke briefly with reporters, including LifeSiteNews.

"I'm very grateful for all the support from the public, especially from the people of Houston," he said, some of whom held handmade signs that said "I Stand with Sandra and David" as he presented himself for booking and paid bail this morning.

Attorneys did not disclose the terms of the agreement prosecutors had offered. If convicted, Daleiden and fellow pro-life investigative journalist Sandra Merritt face up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

However, the charges could be dismissed at any time. LifeSiteNews delivered the first batch of signatures, more than 106,000, on its petition to the DA's office asking that all charges against Daleiden be dropped at once.

If that fails? "We're ready to go to trial," Woodfill told LifeSiteNews.

URGENT: Sign the petition to Harris County urging them to drop the charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt. Click here.



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First 100K petitions to drop charges against Daleiden delivered: ‘let’s double that’

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LifeSiteNews reporter Lisa Bourne and the Christian Defense Coalition's Patrick Mahoney deliver LifeSiteNews' petition to the Houston DA's office.
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URGENT: Sign the petition to Harris County urging them to drop the charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt. Click here.

HOUSTON, February 4, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Pro-life leaders have presented more than 106,000 signatures to the Harris County district attorney's office, demanding that charges be dropped against David Daleiden.

It was the first batch of signatures to be dropped off in LifeSiteNews' ongoing petition. It asks prosecutor Devon Anderson to dismiss the charges facing Daleiden and his fellow investigator Sandra Merritt, which could result in 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

"Houston, we do have a problem," said Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition at a press conference at 11 a.m. local time.

"We are standing in solidarity and say, 'When you attack David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, you are attacking us and our community,'" Rev. Mahoney continued. "Do not proceed with these unjust indictments."

Congressman Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican, sent a statement to the gathering saying, "Instead of society persecuting the truth tellers, Planned Parenthood needs to answer for their gruesome practices," as well as apologizing to adoptive families like his own, which the abortion provider has "prevented from being whole."

The local indictment, made by the Houston-area grand jury last Monday, has drawn national coverage as the first skirmish in a war between Planned Parenthood and those who sought to expose their practices.

"In delivering these petitions, I am representing more than 100,000 people who demand that these charges against this 27-year-old man and his fellow investigator be dropped at once," said LifeSiteNews reporter Lisa Bourne.

"The next move is up to the Harris County DA's office," she said, reading a statement prepared by LifeSiteNews. "These petitions prove that the world is watching."

"The indictment is another example of Planned Parenthood's bare-fisted intimidation tactics," she added, similar to campaigns taken against former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Andy Parrish, PR director for LifeSiteNews, who was in Houston with Bourne, said he was honored to tell David of the 106,000 LifeSite petition signers who were standing with him. "These signatures are just the beginning. The coalition standing behind David is growing. We've got 100,000, but let's double that."

David Daleiden addressed the crowd alongside two of his attorneys, Peter Breen and Briscoe Cain, and thanked all those who showed their support for him during his latest legal showdown.

"I just want to say thank you to everyone at LifeSiteNews and everyone who shared the petition, who signed it, and made it possible to deliver that today," Daleiden told LifeSiteNews. "It means a lot to me, and to Sandra, and to the Center for Medical Progress. Thank you for your faithfulness and for standing up for us."

URGENT: Sign the petition to Harris County urging them to drop the charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt. Click here.

He hoped everyone would remain united in demanding justice be done - and, like Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue, hopes that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast be indicted.

"I firmly believe that if we stay the course, if we stay together, we will bring about a day when there is no longer a price tag on human life," Daleiden said.

During the windy 45-minute-long press conference, speakers at the rostrum defended Daleiden's undercover journalism tactics in the face of sometimes hostile questions from the established press.

"No one can deny that this was the number one investigative journalism story of 2015," Rev. Mahoney said, citing statistics of the story's impact on the mainstream media.

In the new media environment of 2016, someone does not need a degree from Northwestern or Columbia to be a journalist, he said.

"He broke one of the biggest stories of the year," agreed John Hawkins of Right-Wing News, who sent in a written statement to the conference. Pressing charges against him sends a message to conservatives and Christians: "Sit down and shut up, or this just might happen to you."

"If this were a meat-packing plant investigation, there would be no question about his integrity," said Alexandra Snyder, executive director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation. "He would be universally lauded as a hero. I think he's a hero...for getting the truth out."

"In the meantime, we're going to do everything we can do to stand with David," she said, "and see justice prevail."



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