Patrick Craine

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

Patrick Craine
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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TLC pulls ‘19 Kids and Counting’ from schedule following Duggar molestation allegations

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By Ben Johnson

SPRINGDALE, AR, May 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The television network TLC has removed the Duggar family's reality show, “19 Kids and Counting,” from its schedule, at least temporarily.

Multiple news outlets have confirmed that the show, featuring the large and expanding evangelical Christian family, will not be on the air until the network makes a final decision about the program's fate.

The network had previously removed “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” from its network after “Mama June” Shannon had been seen associating with convicted child molester Mark McDaniel, possibly exposing her children to a sexual predator. Shannon has told the entertainment news outlet TMZ that she would sue the network for unfair and inconsistent treatment.

TLC has not made a final determination as of yet and aired a Duggar marathon Thursday evening as the controversy brewed.

Friday's move comes after media outlets obtained police records showing Josh Duggar, as a young teenager 12 years ago, inappropriately touched as many as five girls, often while they were sleeping. The police records show the incidents began in March 2002, the month the oldest Duggar child turned 14. He admitted the incident to his parents that July, but another incident took place in March 2003. At that time, the family sent him to a program that required counseling and hard physical labor.

Three years later, a letter containing details of the molestation was found, and its recipient notified police, who launched an investigation.

One of his victims told police, after Josh returned in July 2003, he had clearly “turned back to God.” No further incidents have been alleged.

Duggar's wife of six-and-a-half years, Anna, said Josh revealed the painful episode to her two years before they got engaged.

Since the allegations have been made public, Josh Duggar admitted his long ago wrongdoing, calling his teenage actions “inexcusable.” He also resigned his job at FRC Action, a pro-family lobbying organization.

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Some figures have offered the Duggars their reassurance that, whatever sins Josh committed as a teen, he can be – perhaps has been – forgiven by God.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, now a presidential hopeful, said that Josh “and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story.”

He said those who leaked the story were motivated by “insensitive bloodlust” to destroy the Duggar family. “There was no consideration of the fact that the victims wanted this to be left in the past, and ultimately a judge had the information on file destroyed—not to protect Josh, but the innocent victims.”

God, Huckabee said, forgives all sins.

“In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption,” Josh wrote.

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Rebecca Kiessling of Save the 1 - United States Steve Jalsevac/Vatican City
Rebecca Kiessling

I told her I was conceived in rape. She told me to prove I shouldn’t have been aborted.

Rebecca Kiessling
By Rebecca Kiessling

(Savethe1) - Why should I have to prove my worth and my right to life? When I first learned at the age of 18 that I was conceived in rape, I instantly felt targeted and devalued by our society because I’d heard what people said about pregnancy “in cases of rape.” Right away, I felt I was in a position where I would have to justify my own existence – that I would have to prove to the world that I shouldn’t have been aborted and that I was worthy of living.

I’ve since found my own value, identity and purpose in Christ, being created by God, in His image, and for a purpose, so I no longer feel I need to prove my worth to others in order to feel worthy. Instead, I share my worth out of gratitude for my own life being spared and in order that others may see the value of those who are still at risk – those who are in harm’s way as yet unborn and being targeted for abortion in the clinics, in legislation, and in people’s hearts and minds.

Whenever I speak, I share this aspect of my journey, but people are shocked to hear that I actually do get challenged to prove my value, to demonstrate my positive contribution to society and to justify my right not to have been aborted. This recent e-mail is a case in point. It was a tough inquiry to receive, but you’ll see my hopefully patient (and prayerful) responses below, and the ultimate outcome of the exchange:

I’m feeling sad and skeptical about rape babies.  I’d love to consider myself pro-life due to biblical reasons, but I just don’t really see what good can ever come out of a rape baby. I still think that it sometimes furthers the victimization of a rape victim. And it’s also because I’m very sad and disturbed by your blog.

I just think sometimes that it would be better if these babies never existed -- that every single one would naturally be miscarried by God’s will, so no one could bully them for their skeleton in their closet. Like I said, the subject manner disturbs me to the point where I vomit. I wish that every child was conceived in love and not violence because that's the way it should be. And I'm sad to say that the only way I could fully believe all of you rape mothers and children is if you were to pray for the peace of God that transcends all my futile understanding and my volatile, overly-sensitive emotions. 

There is no story in the whole world that can fully change my mind. The only way I could ever is if I were to befriend a victim or become the Bride of a man whom was the product of abuse. I'm so sorry to be brutally honest; it's just that my heart grieves to the point where I feel the struggle to overcome the sin of prejudice. I'm so angry at God that he allows this to occur.

Dear __, I appreciate you going to our blog and taking the time to reach out to us.  Your concerns are the most common, but research shows that rape victims are four times more likely to die within the next year after the abortion vs. giving birth. Dr. David Reardon's book Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions and Children Resulting From Sexual Assault explains this.  So it's a myth which gets perpetuated -- that a rape victim would be better off after an abortion, that her child would be a reminder of the rape, and that she would even see her child as a "rape baby," as you put it.

I understand a lot of what you're saying.  You would definitely feel differently if you knew someone personally.  I wished I wasn’t conceived in rape, but I do believe now that God definitely brings good out of evil, and uses tragic situations to bring healing.  He doesn't intend the evil of course, but his trademark is redeeming really awful situations.

-- Rebecca

Her reply (again, challenging for me to read, but I think she candidly articulates a lot of what most people really wonder or think):

What has God done in your life personally besides this blog that has made your tragic family life worth the pain? Tell me what you have been doing: like marriage, dating, children, jobs, friendship, volunteer work; any of that. I am curious to see how God has given your life joy and purpose. I'm sorry if I have ever been difficult to handle. I'm emotionally impulsive when I hear something sad.

First of all, my birthmother and her husband legally adopted me 3-1/2 years ago because my adoptive family was really screwed up (long story of abuse and abandonment.) My own adoption by my birthmother was our fairy-tale ending.  She says I'm a blessing to her, I honor her and I bring her healing! I love adoption -- my two oldest are adopted (very open adoption,) and we adopted a baby with special needs -- Cassie -- who died in our arms at 33 days old. It was an honor to take care of her and was definitely one of the most important things I'd ever done in my life. She died because of medical malpractice.

Married for nearly 17 years, we have 5 children now – two adopted sons and our three biological daughters.  Here's my son's story. He wrote it last September at 12 years old.

Besides being the president and founder of Save The 1, I also co-founded Hope After Rape Conception. I'm a family law attorney, though I closed my law practice to have my children and to home school until 2-1/2 years ago.

I make baby quilts which I donate to pregnancy resource centers and I give to moms in unplanned pregnancies. My birthmother taught me to sew! I also taught my children to quilt, as well as many of my friends and their children. I've volunteered with orphan care, Sunday school, feeding the disadvantaged, free legal work, volunteer work for a maternity home, and helping in various ways with pregnancy resource centers. I changed the hearts of Gov. Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich on this issue during their presidential campaigns!

A large part of what I do is helping others to understand their value, identity and worth because lots of people struggle with these issues -- not just those conceived in rape. I hope this helps!  -- Rebecca

Her final response – from someone who said “there is no story in the world that can fully change my mind”: 

Dear Rebecca, thank you so much for your time to straighten out my emotional acting out -- I'm really glad you told me about your life. I really think I'll be okay now. I still wish that men wouldn't rape, but at least the world knows a lot more than they used to and I can say that I'm pro-life to my college professors without paranoia or anxiety. I even talked about helping people like you with my mom and dad. They told me I'm too sensitive in personality to be involved directly in domestic politics; yet, I'm praying about being a free English tutor for troubled families as well as being an anti-pornography informant or activist. After all, the porn industry has been statistically linked to the sexual violence pandemic. I'm so glad that you are living life well and to the best of your ability; keep telling people that just because your birth father was an evil scumbag doesn't mean that you are. Thanks Rebecca, you have really touched and strengthened my heart. With much sincerity.

 

BIO: Rebecca Kiessling was conceived in rape and nearly aborted, but legally protected by law in Michigan pre-Roe v Wade.  She's an attorney, pro-life speaker and blogger, and President of Save The 1. Her own website is www.rebeccakiessling.com

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Boy Scouts president: We need to allow open homosexual leaders

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By Dustin Siggins

May 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Boy Scouts of America president Robert Gates says the youth organization must change with the times and allow open homosexual men to serve as Scout leaders.

Gates, the former U.S. Secretary of Defense and CIA Director, said in a speech at the 2015 Boy Scouts of America (BSA) National Annual Meeting Thursday that the Boy Scouts would have to adjust to "the social, political, and juridicial changes taking place in our country -- changes taking place a pace this past year no one anticipated."

According to Gates, the way to balance the religious affiliations of "some 70% of our scout units" and avoid "a broad [court] ruling that could forbid any kind of membership standard" is to offer individual troops a flexible membership policy. 

"For me, I support a policy that accepts and respects our different perspectives and beliefs, allows religious organizations -- based on First Amendment protections of religious freedom -- to establish their own standards for adult leaders, and preserves the Boy Scouts of America now and forever."

"I truly fear that any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement," said Gates, who said that BSA should "seize control of our own future, set our own course, and change our policy in order to allow charter partners -- unit sponsoring organizations -- to determine the standards for their Scout leaders."

This is not the first time that Gates, who led the military to end its two decades-long Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, has supported gay Scout leaders. Last year, he said that he "would have supported having gay Scoutmasters, but at the same time, I fully accept the decision that was democratically arrived at by 1,500 volunteers from across the entire country."

In 2013, BSA allowed openly homosexual scouts for the first time. That policy reads: "No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,” and took effect on January 1, 2014.

A year ago, Gates said he "was prepared to go further than the decision that was made" to allow gay Scout members, but decided that "to try to take last year's decision to the next step would irreparably fracture and perhaps even provoke a formal, permanent split in this movement - with the high likelihood neither side would subsequently survive on its own."

This week, though, Gates said that "events during the past year have confronted us with urgent challenges I did not foresee and which we cannot ignore."

"We cannot ignore growing internal challenges to our current membership policy, from some councils... in open defiance of the policy," said Gates. 

However, Gates' remarks may have come too late to prevent internal challenges from splitting BSA. Due to the 2013 vote, a number of Scouting alternatives launched, including the organization Trail Life USA. The latter group says it aims "to be the premier national character development organization for young men which produces Godly and responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens." 

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In January, Trail Life USA said it has "over 540 Troops in 48 states and the registration of nearly 20,000 adults and boys..."

Furthermore, the decision by BSA to allow gay scouts has led to criticism from people on both sides of the debate. Homosexual activists say the group did not go far enough, whereas many Christian parents and organizations say BSA is bowing to public pressure from homosexual advocates to affect its membership, despite its Christian roots.

Corporate pressure has also been aggressive. Last year, Walt Disney World threatened to not allow employees to volunteer for BSA as part of its VoluntEARS program in 2015 if the organization does not allow gay Scout leaders. Diversity Inc. reports that Merck & Co., Ernst & Young, Major League Baseball, and AT&T are just some of the other companies that have pressured BSA to further change its policies.

LifeSiteNews asked BSA whether Gates' comments indicated support for a totally flexible scout leadership policy, or just related to gay scout leaders, as well as whether BSA would take a stand against state and local laws that deny First Amendment rights to people who oppose same-sex "marriage."

BSA declined to comment, telling LifeSiteNews in a statement: "Dr. Gates’s remarks speak for themselves. ... It is important to note that no decisions were made during the National Annual Meeting. A decision is expected no later than the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board meeting in October."

A video of Gates' remarks is below. The comments about membership standards begin at 8:40.

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