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Gala revealed a lot about who we are

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
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Recalling the April 28 LifeSiteNews gala still brings to mind many fond memories from that amazing ‘family’ event.  It revealed a lot about who we are and the passion and love of life and family that we share with each other, many leaders, and our supporters. Today, the first day of our summer campaign, I want to tell you more about that wonderful day and evening.

LSN staff and our US and Canadian boards of directors are spread around internationally.  One benefit of the gala was that it gave a rare opportunity for most of us to meet each other in person, many for the first time. We are mostly a virtual organization, with staff usually hired over the phone and by email, board members and staff usually meeting only by conference calls or on Skype, and some of us never having actually met in person.  Most of us work from our homes.

We were therefore thrilled to actually be together at a joint board/staff luncheon and a meeting during the afternoon before the gala.  The meeting was serious and productive business, but it was also a special occasion of joy for the LifeSiteNews team.

Part of the meeting involved discussions with Jean-Yves Cote, our lead defense lawyer in the Gravel lawsuit against LifeSiteNews, and Peter Breen, Executive Director of the US Thomas More Society. They both came to the meeting and gala from Montreal, Quebec and Chicago, Illinois respectively.

The first evening event was the pre-dinner VIP reception at which Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli gave a punchy, unabashedly pro-life, pro-family talk. He was introduced by LSN US board of director Dan McConchie, VP of Government affairs for Americans United for Life.

Cuccinelli, who will be running for Virginia governor in 2013, gave a live witness that it is possible to be a very competent elected official and be thoroughly, openly, pro-life and pro-family.

Gala attendees told me they were moved by having personally met and talked to so many leaders that they have been reading about on LifeSiteNews. It was difficult getting everyone into the dinner room later on because of all the excited interaction going on in the halls.

LSN US board member and dinner emcee, Brad Mattes, did an outstanding job during the night. Brad, Executive Director of Life Issues Institute and the host of the award-winning Facing Life Head On weekly television series, helped to make it a classy yet warm evening for all.

Famed Canadian novelist and artist Michael O’Brien gave the opening invocation, as well as some revealing comments about the LifeSiteNews team and the depth of our mission. He was an especially big hit with dinner guests who are fans of his novels. Keynote speaker Abby Johnson said she “had the best night tonight getting to sit by Michael O’Brien and chat it up” and that “it was the highlight of my year.”

Patrick Novecosky, Editor-in-Chief of Legatus magazine, gave the introduction to Abby, stating, “Abby represents everything we hope and pray for those who work in the abortion industry.”

Abby’s spirited talk was a natural fit for the night. Being pregnant at the time and having some complications related to the pregnancy, Abby had to cancel other speaking engagements. We were very grateful, therefore, that she was still able to make that long trip from her Texas home to be our keynote speaker.

The former abortion center manager said, “I really believe in pro-life media and what LifeSiteNews is doing.” She told about her new ministry, And Then There Were None, that reaches out to abortion clinic workers.  In only its first four months, Abby revealed, they had “17 abortion clinic workers leave and convert on the issue of abortion.”

Facts, “not emotions, not yelling, not telling them they are a bad person,” are the key item that gets those workers’ attention Abby stressed. She related, “I kinda have a bank of articles that I use from LifeSiteNews that I can send to women and men who are considering leaving that abortion industry. Those facts, those articles, that is part of their conversion.”

After Abby’s talk there were lots of introductions – the LifeSiteNews US and Canadian boards, many leaders present and the LSN staff. This is our ‘family,’ and it seemed that by the end of the evening all felt that kinship and the joy that goes with it. John-Henry and I made a point of emphasizing that the people in that room are our heroes and that we see our role as one of being of service to all of them and their personal or organizational efforts.

We were very privileged to have in attendance Julia Holcomb, her very supportive husband and one of her sons who had all flown in from Texas for the Gala. Julia, who is now active with Silent No More Awareness, had donated two paintings for auction at the gala that were more awesome to see in person than any photos of them that we could have posted. The paintings were successfully auctioned off and many supporters had the opportunity to meet and chat with this gracious lady.

Then we premiered our 15-year anniversary video which blew away the audience. We will be unveiling that on LifeSiteNews soon!

That was followed by Deal Hudson, former adviser to the Bush administration, who expressed his strong admiration for the work of LifeSiteNews.  His task was to encourage donations from the dinner guests. We were humbled by his glowing endorsement and conviction in supporting LSN. He said, “I’m in”, and at the podium put his check for $200 in an envelope and then asked, “how many of you are also in? Put your hands up.”  We were amazed at how many did.

At the end my son John, our assistant editor and invaluable jack-of-all-trades, was moved to spontaneously approach the podium and thank John-Henry and myself for all that we had done in starting and leading LifeSiteNews. John especially wanted everyone to realize that we strongly encourage all staff to maintain a solid prayer life while doing this difficult work.

The program ended at about 10 p.m., but a proof of the success of the night was that many guests lingered for over an hour longer, wanting to chat about what went on and socialize further with the exceptional people who were there that evening. New relationships were struck that night.

There is much more that could be written about April 28. I think this report gives you a good idea of the spirit and significance of the day and evening, and hopefully a better sense of the importance of LifeSiteNews’ mission and the many influential persons who work closely with us.

To continue that mission we rely almost entirely on financial support from our readers. There is no large benefactor behind this organization, as some readers assume from time to time. It would be really helpful, but I can assure you that is presently not the case. We just get by from quarter to quarter with the generous donations that you, our readers, are able to send us at those times.

And of course, we are blessed by those key supporters who make recurring donations each month to keep us going as campaign funds are used up. These recurring donations are vital to our operation.

It is now time for our Summer Campaign. As Deal Hudson asked our guests at the Gala, “Are you in?”

During our Summer Campaign,
will you donate to this mission for truth?

(Click Here to Donate)

Our annual operating expenses now add up to about $600,000. For this campaign we have set a not-unreasonable goal of $100,000.

You can play a crucial role as a member of the LifeSiteNews family by sending a gift for our much-needed work TODAY!

Please send us your gift today – for life, for truth.


Steve Jalsevac
Co-Founder
LifeSiteNews.com

P.S. Abby Johnson ended her keynote address by saying, “When you are asked tonight to make a contribution to LifeSiteNews, I hope that you will remember the lives of the children and grandchildren and kids in your life who you love. Because I want to tell you, we have to sacrifice. As much as you can.” We hope you take her words as seriously as we do.



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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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