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Tiny pro-life activist making big waves

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By John Jalsevac
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December 20, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – When 12-year-old Lia Mills decided to tackle the topic of abortion for a grade 7 speech project in February 2009, neither she nor her family had any idea what lay in store for them.

Now, less than two years later, a homemade video of Lia’s speech, shot with their tiny digital point-and-shoot, has been watched over a million times on Youtube, at least one unborn baby has been saved from abortion, Lia has spoken before a crowd of over 10,000 pro-lifers at the National March for Life in Ottawa, and she is viewed as one of North America’s most promising up-and-coming young pro-life leaders.

“Never in our wildest dreams” did the Mills see what was coming, said Kimberley Mills, Lia’s mother, in a recent LifeSiteNews.com interview.  “This could only have been a God-thing because it’s so unbelievable.  Lia made a simple decision to speak on a topic she felt God prompted her to speak on and He took it from there.”

Against the odds

The last two years appear all the more remarkable in light of their inauspicious beginning – when Lia’s pro-abortion teacher found out the topic of her speech, she told Lia that she could present her speech to her class, but would be automatically disqualified from the speech competition attached to the project. She recommended that Lia choose a different topic.

At the recent International Pro-Life Conference in Ottawa, Lia told the crowd that being “a fairly competitive person,” she was eager to participate in the competition; however,  “after more praying and thinking” she decided that she would stick with the topic of abortion anyway, even if it meant disqualification.

Unexpectedly, however, Lia’s teacher was so impressed with the speech that she backtracked and, despite her pro-abortion views, recommended that Lia represent her class in the schoolwide competition. 

But before Lia had a chance to go before the school and the panel of judges, her teacher demanded that she remove one sentence from the speech that referenced God. Once again Lia was forced to choose between her principles and her desire to compete, and possibly win – and once again, she chose the former. “After a night of tears and prayer, I went to school, and sadly told my teacher that I couldn’t take that sentence out and that I would withdraw from the contest,” she says.

But once again her teacher changed her mind, and allowed Lia to compete anyway. 

At the schoolwide competition, one pro-abortion judge stepped down from the panel before Lia even began.  And after the speech, the judges initially told Lia she had been disqualified.  But controversy among the judges eventually led to a reversal, and Lia’s family learned the next day that Lia had been declared the winner.

But, as it turned out, this welcome and hard-won victory was only the beginning for Lia.

Not your typical young activist

When the young pro-life orator, who is now 14 years old, steps up to the microphone, you hardly know what to expect. At best, one looks for the normal fare of the precocious young activist – that is, a cute, but ultimately unoriginal parroting of the movement’s talking points.

Not so with Lia.  At the conference in Ottawa, Lia could barely see over the podium. But when she opened her mouth what poured out was a confident, well-structured, fluid and insightful look into the nature and struggles of the pro-life battle – a speech that stood on its own two feet, without any apologetic remarks about “her age.” Lia had written out her speech beforehand – but barely glanced at her notes the whole time she delivered it. 

(Read the complete prepared text of the speech here.)

“What I realize now,” she told the crowd, “is that when I made the decision to speak on abortion, it wasn’t just a decision to do a speech. It was a decision to step into a spiritual battle, a battle that I wasn’t aware of in the least and a battle that was growing in intensity.”

“I still don’t know why God chose me to do what I did,” she continued, “but I’m learning, ever so slowly, to try and embrace conflict, to try to realize that some things will only change as I become willing to stand in opposition to the status quo, as I become willing to see beyond my need for peace and safety and learn to step out of the boat and make some waves.”

Naturally, many of those who have seen Lia in action have questioned how much of the credit for her accomplishments she can truthfully accept: have not her parents held her by the hand all the while, prodding her to take on these controversial topics and perhaps even writing her speeches for her? 

But according to Lia’s mother, this simply is not the case.

According to Kimberly, not only did Lia independently make the decision to speak about abortion, but she and her husband even urged Lia to choose another topic when her original choice was opposed by her teacher. 

While Christian and pro-life in their convictions, the Mills had never been involved in the pro-life movement. “We tended to regard [abortion] as a ‘side issue’, and we focused our attention elsewhere,” says Kimberly. 

“Many times,” she continued, “we’ve asked [Lia] if she wants to step away from pursuing this.  Every time another speaking engagement comes up, we leave it to her to decide whether to accept.  Each time she prays and comes back with her answer and, up to now, she’s always felt that pressing on is what God wants for her.”

While Kimberly says she’d like “to think that, as parents, we’ve made a positive impact on Lia …  as I see what God is doing in and through her, I know it goes way beyond what we’ve done.  Often, I find myself, like Mary, just marveling and pondering these things in my heart.”

As for the actual content of Lia’s speeches, the writing and research is performed almost entirely by the young girl herself, though she does seek advice from her family regarding pacing, flow, and content. Sometimes her speeches will go through as many as 7 or 8 drafts.

The power of new media

When Lia’s parents uploaded her first speech onto Youtube, with the intention of sharing it with family friends, they were completely unprepared for the reaction. The statistics for the video immediately shot through the roof, and it sparked a heated debate – so heated, in fact, that the Mills were forced to shut down commenting on the video after death threats were leveled against Lia. 

Lia says that through witnessing the response to that video, “I really developed an appreciation for the work that any pro-life organization does, because there is so much backlash and opposition.”

But while the “opposition was extremely intense … so was the support,” she says.

The greatest affirmation of the effectiveness of that video came in the form of a comment on the video by someone who said that his aunt had decided against getting an abortion, after watching Lia’s speech.

After seeing the possibilities of Youtube, Lia has gone on to produce a number of new videos tackling different aspects of the pro-life issue. The videos have since become more sophisticated, as the Mills have begun to splice together footage and use other effects, but they are still recording with the same basic point-and-shoot as at first. 

While none of these videos have enjoyed nearly the same level of exposure as the first one, they all have healthy stats – between ten and fifty thousand views.

Big words from a little person

A quick glance at the comments beneath these videos shows that the commonest rebuttal to Lia’s arguments is her age … and her size. But while she herself is the first to acknowledge her youth and inexperience, she is completely undeterred.

“I know these all seem like big words coming form a very little person, but we’re all little compared to God,” she told the pro-life conference. “God’s not looking at how big we are, or how smart we are or how popular we are.  He’s just looking at how willing we are.”

Lia is certainly willing. And perhaps equally as important, given her age, so is her family. She has two siblings (plus a third in his mother’s womb), and - while Lia’s lookalike youngest sister can get frustrated explaining that she is not her famous sibling - they are both “very proud” of her, says Kimberly. In fact, when Lia first started getting so much attention her whole family prayed and fasted together to discern God’s will. “We knew that what was happening with Lia was going to affect us all in some way,” says her mother. 

And when the family finally “voted”  on where to go with it, “everyone was unanimous in their belief that God was behind this and that we should press forward.”

And press forward they have. 

As Lia explained it in the conclusion to her speech at the conference: “It’s often said and believed that God will never give us a problem that’s too big for us to handle. But my youth pastor took that and he dared to disagree. He said ‘No! God always gives us a problem that’s way, way to big for us to handle, but not too big for us to handle together with Him.’

“So here we are, with this, massively huge conflict and battle laying before us, but an even bigger God behind us, backing us up and watching over us. As someone wiser than me once said, ‘All it takes for evil to prevail, is for good men to do nothing.’ In this conflict, let’s not be guilty of doing nothing. Stay strong, and do what you can; every little thing counts.”

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

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By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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