Pro-life groups dismayed as Christian churches repeatedly invite pro-abortion Stephen Lewis to speak
VANCOUVER, BC, October 3, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pro-life advocates are becoming increasingly dismayed at how the famed ‘humanitarian’ Stephen Lewis is so often given a prominent and enthusiastic platform at Christian conferences, galas, and lectures.
Despite being hailed as one of the world’s most influential advocates for human rights, social justice, and international development, Lewis is a longstanding proponent for legalized abortion under the guise of “reproductive rights.”
Most recently, Lewis was scheduled to speak Sept. 24th at the “Why Everything Must Change” conference at Tenth Ave. Alliance Church in Vancouver, where he was to make an appearance via Skype, until he had to back out at the last minute. Sponsors of the event, organized by So Change, included World Vision and the speakers list was filled with leaders of Christian churches and organizations.
“Giving Lewis a platform in a Christian setting is to say: ‘here is someone we should listen to,’ when in fact he is someone we should be concerned about,” says Jose Ruba, co-founder of Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, and a Filipino Evangelical.
“The problem is that Lewis advocates to help only certain ‘kinds’ of people around the world, not ‘every’ person around the world,” Ruba explained.
At last month’s conference, Lewis was to speak on the topics of HIV/AIDS and the Millennium Development Goals.
When asked about the appropriateness of inviting Lewis, David Peck, executive director of So Change, told LifeSiteNews, “I believe in debate, I believe in dialogue, I believe in honest testimony, and critical reflection.”
“I personally don’t have a problem with Lewis and So Change certainly doesn’t have a problem with him,” Peck said. “What you can’t argue with is the man himself, his story. He is doing great work in many, many different areas.”
Peck said Lewis’ talk was to be “totally focused” on gender justice, international development, and the MDGs, and that he thought Lewis was “pro-choice,” but not an “abortion advocate.”
Ken Shigematsu, Senior Pastor of Tenth Ave. Alliance Church, told LifeSiteNews that they agreed to host the conference before the speaker list was set because it was sponsored by World Vision, with whom they are “informal partners.”
“I can understand why you have a disagreement with Stephen Lewis’ views on abortion. We at Tenth do as well,” said Shigematsu. “In the balance given the fact that Stephen would be speaking on poverty and justice, our leadership felt it would cause more division in the body of Christ to ask World Vision to drop him from the speaker line up or to change our mind and not allow WV use our building for their conference.”
World Vision insisted, however, that they did not “sponsor” the event. “Our involvement was limited to a display booth in the foyer outside the meeting room,” explained Caroline Riseboro, vice president of Public Affairs.
She said, however, that they have “good working relationships” with Lewis as well as the conference organizers. “In the past, we have worked with Stephen Lewis on issues where we share concern; for example, raising awareness on the challenges of HIV/AIDS in Africa.”
Lewis distinguished himself in 1966 as the first Canadian politician to propose the legalization of abortion as a member of Ontario’s NDP government.
Beginning in 1999, Lewis served as deputy executive director of UNICEF where he successfully steered the organization to promote abortion, contraception, and sexual rights for adolescents.
Now he acts as a motivational speaker for the worldwide achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, which have been interpreted by liberals to demand access for abortion as a reproductive “right.” He also runs the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which does fundraising through Christian churches and schools across the country.
“These organizations, such as Lewis’, claim to be humanitarian organizations who care for the weak and the poor, but they don’t care for the weakest, for those who are being killed through legalized abortion,” said Ruba.
“Imagine a Christian humanitarian organization that did wonderful work around the world, helping people who were hurting and starving,” said Ruba. “Now, imagine that they only helped ‘white’ people. Not only did they refuse to help brown or black people but they openly advocated that white people should have the ‘choice’ to kill them. Would you allow that humanitarian organization to speak at your conference or event based on the good work that they do with white people?”
Jeff Gunnarson of Campaign Life Coalition agreed with Ruba. “It matters not that we help the poor and marginalized—no matter how profound the need—if we agree to kill or turn a blind eye to the killing of the unborn,” he said.
“It’s a foolish notion that you can invite your enemy into your camp and then pay him some money as long as he doesn’t bite the hand feeding him,” Gunnarson continued. “The devil is in the details and in the long run, he wins and the unborn lose.”
LSN asked Peck of So Change if he would attend a conference of world leaders on the theme of politics and nationalistic ideas where Hitler would be enthusiastically publicized as a featured speaker. In this scenario, LSN made it clear that Hitler would focus strictly on his political ideas, and not mention his views on the Jews, nor would he speak about his plans to rid Germany of what his party labeled as “misfits.”
“I probably wouldn’t attend that conference,” said Peck.