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Uniting for Life

Summer, 2001

National Pro-Life Religious Council, Inc.,
109 2nd St. N.E.
Washington, 20013


Deuteronomy 30:15-20

"See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess ....

"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings, and curses. Now choose LIFE, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. "

(New International version)

National Pro-life Religious Council Denounces Ceation of Embryos for Science

Washington, DC, June 16 --The National Pro-Life Religious Council today strongly denounced the creation of human embryos for the sole purpose of harvesting their cells and destroying them.

Researchers at Eastern Virginia Medical School's Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Norfolk, VA, recently revealed that they created human embryos from donated eggs and sperm for the sole purpose of harvesting their stem cells. The Advanced Cell Technology company in Worcester, MA, is starting a series of experiments aimed at creating cloned human embryos from which their stem cells will be derived.

"After studying the facts in this matter, we are united in denouncing the practice of creating and manipulating human embryos, in the strongest possible terms," said the Reverend Rob Schenck, president of the National Pro-life Religious Council (NPR). "This practice is absolutely Hitleresque."

"Destroying human beings to help humanity is self-contradictory," said Fr. Frank Pavone, one of America's best known pro-life advocates and director of the 40,000 member Priests for Life. Fr. Pavone is a member of the NPRC board of directors. The NPRC board of directors includes representatives from organizations that are Baptist, Catholic, Conservative Christian, Episcopal, Evangelical, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Reformed, and United Church of Christ.

The NPRC is calling on its constituent groups to write their representatives and senators urging immediate legislation to stop human embryo creation for experimentation and human embryo cloning.

Spokespersons from the NPRC are available for further comment.

Rev. Ben Sheldon Presented Award by NPRC

Rev. Sheldon Retires as Executive Director After Long Years of Service

At the April NPRC board meeting, members gave Rev. Ben Sheldon a standing ovation in gratitude for his many years of service as NPRC's executive director. Rev. Sheldon was presented with a plaque with the scripture verse from Deuteronomy 30 (see above) hand-caligraphied by Michael Podesta.

Rev. Sheldon is one of the founding members of the National Pro-life Religious Council which was established in 1987. When it became apparent that pro-life clergy needed to work together to oppose the inroads of pro-abortion propaganda within Christian churches as well as without, he helped to found NPRC to provide a united Christian pro-life testimony and mutual support to Christian pro-life church-based groups.

This long-time pro-life warrior had spoken out against abortion before many were aware of its danger, and before the infamous Roe v. Wade decision legalized it. Since 1967, he has preached and taught that the child in the womb is God's creation, a sacred gift to be protected.

Rev. Sheldon and his wife Amy have seven children and 34 grandchildren. As both he and his descendents are giving pro-life witness, the "Choose Life and your descendents will live..." is particularly appropriate for Rev. Sheldon and his family.

Connecting the Dots: How to Support Clergy in Pro-Life Witness

NPRC Panel Presents Popular Workshop at NRLC Convention

One of the most popular workshops at the National Right to Life Convention this year as in the past was We are the sheep; Where are the shepherds? This is a panel discussion in which National Pro-Life Religious Council board members address the issue of how clergy can be more effectively involved in the sanctity of life issues.

Some pastors will assert, "I want to just stick to the Gospel, to preaching Jesus, and stay away from controversial issues." Commenting on this type of remark, Rev. Ben Sheldon of Presbyterians Pro-Life said, "You cannot be faithful to the biblical message of redemption through Jesus Christ without emphasizing the sacred value of all human life." However, there is a conciliatory, tactful way of preaching the gospel of life, Pastor Sheldon reminded listeners. He recommended bringing to the pastor a woman, child or man who have experienced abortion.

"Put a face on the issue," also advised Georgette Forney, executive director of the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life. Mrs. Forney, who had an abortion in her teens, said many clergy have not seen how abortion hurts women.

Rev. Kirk van der Swaagh of the Conservative Congregational Congress of Churches stated that pastors need to learn how to connect the gospel of life to other current issues. "It is like those connect the dot pictures," he explained. "Ask your pastor to connect the dots for you .... If he is faithful, he is going to have to connect the dots himself first."

Lutherans for Life Director Rev. Jim Lamb quoted a woman who said to him, "I think all the members of my congregation are against abortion. It just hasn't broken their hearts yet." Rev. Lamb commented: "That's where we want to get our people to be. We want to break their hearts. We want to move them to cross that line from being against abortion to being passionate about the sacredness of life."

Judicial Activism

By Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

In our system of government, courts do not make law. Rather, people do, through their elected representatives. This is what constitutes our freedom and our self-governance. This is also the reason why elections are so important, and why participation in elections is an integral part of preserving and exercising our freedom. When we participate in elections, questions of ideology matter precisely because we are choosing the people who, in our name, will make the laws on a wide range of issues. As long as the people make the laws, the people are free. The courts, meanwhile, exist to apply the laws to cases that come before them.

But what happens when the people no longer make the laws? What happens when judges take this power to themselves, and invent new laws that are not in the Constitution -- such as the "right to abortion"?

What happens then is that the people are no longer free. In such a case, as Thomas L. Gypping of the Free Congress Foundation recently pointed out, "We can have all the elections we want, our legislators can pass all the statutes they want, we can amend the Constitution a thousand times, and none of it will mean anything because judges have taken the power to make law away from us. "

We are at a time when all of this is more important than ever. The President has the responsibility under the Constitution, to make nominations of judges, and the US Senate has the responsibility to vote on their confirmation. In most cases, these judges serve for life, and have the final word on cases that touch on the most fundamental moral questions of our lives.

A key duty, therefore, is to contact our Senators, and ask them to confirm only Justices who will strictly uphold the Constitution as already written. The Constitution is not an evolvingdocument with a new meaning for every generation. It is, instead, a foundationaldocument which is meant to insure a stable government, and the protection of the rights of the people under a system of carefully balanced powers.

Yet we are currently off balanceas judges around the country write their own laws from the bench. This should be the key point in the public discussion about the nomination and confirmation of judges. What matters more than where the nominee stands on particular ideologies is how the nominee sees his/her role as a judge. Is it to create new laws, or to apply the laws that the people have created? If the latter, then the judge's personal ideologies won't matter.

If we press this argument for what it is, namely, whether the people will continue to be their own rulers or not, we will win a broad coalition of support even from people who do not share our position on specific issues, but who are perceptive enough to realize that when people disagree on issues, the people themselves should resolve the disagreements through the legislative process, rather than be subject to the views of unelected judges.

Contact Priests for Life at PO Box 141172, Staten Island NY 10314; Tel. 888 PFL-3448, 718-980-4400; Fax: 718-980-6515; email: mail@priestsforlife.org website: www.priestsforlife.org

Presbyterian Church (USA) Won't Budge on Abortion Stance

By Rev. Ben Sheldon, Presbyterians Pro-Life

Despite vigorous efforts by Presbyterians ProLife, as well as other conservative evangelical groups in the Presbyterian Church(USA) to bring about a change in that mainline denomination's moderate pro-abortion stance, the annual General Assembly held in Louisville, Kentucky, June 8-15, refused to support any of the half-dozen abortion-related "overtures" that came before that body. Actually, abortion took a back seat this year to the sexuality issues that have dominated discussion and controversy for the Presbyterians over the past several years.

A defeated conservative candidate for Moderator, the annually elected titular head of the General Assembly, Nancy Maffett, said that the "Assembly is talking about all the wrong issues."

Attempts to clarify the Presbyterians' position on late-term abortions, including partial-birth abortions, as well as a bid to establish a committee to restate the abortion policy from a Biblical and theological perspective and to rewrite Board of Pensions guidelines requiring parental notification in the case of abortion when the mother is a minor, all were overwhelmingly defeated by the delegates. At the same time, with the usual disregard to the scientific facts, the Assembly did approve an overture supporting stem-cell research.

Acknowledging that such decisions need to be "made with responsibility" the overture added that such research "may result in the restoring of health to those suffering from serious illness." It is clear that the advocates of stem-cell research are basing their arguments on flawed ethics and false science. There is virtually no evidence that supports this claim.

One pastor commented that "the deck was stacked against conservatives" at this year's Genera1 Assembly." But, as Presbyterians Pro-Life President Emeritus, Rev. Ben Sheldon commented over ten years ago, following a similar defeat. "We'll be back, year after year, until we finally succeed in turning this denomination around and restoring the respect for the sanctity of all human life that once characterized the Presbyterian Church."

At the same time, the Presbyterian Church in America, a smaller, conservative and Biblical body of Presbyterians, continues to hold a strongly pro-life stance.

Lutherans For Life Dedicates New LIFE CENTER

By Rev. Dr. James Lamb, Executive Director, national Lutherans For Life

On April 28, 2001, National Lutherans For Life dedicated its new Life Center in Nevada, IA just north of Des Moines. The building was a former Lutheran church that unfortunately had to close its doors.

The purchase of the building and the 3 acres of property is a first for National LFL. According to Dr. James I. Lamb, Executive Director, "LFL is not about bricks and mortar. We are about equipping Lutherans to apply the Gospel to life issues. Still, a building is needed to do this. Because the asking price was extremely reasonable, our board of directors felt it was a good move and would eventually free up more funds for our mission."

At the new location, LFL expands from 1,950 square feet to 6,700 square feet; acquires more room for offices, more space for a bigger mailroom, and more storage for materials: and acquires a space for teaching and learning.

Since moving to the Ames/Des Moines/Nevada, Iowa area in 1996 (to be more centrally located), LFL has grown in membership, in outreach, and in the amount of educational materials it produces and distributes. Dr. Lamb says, "In 1996 our 1,950 square feet of office space seemed like a lot. Yet, we soon found ourselves cramped! In fact, before this church property became available, the national board formed a committee to explore the possibility of a future Life Center with more office space and flexibility. Well, the future is here! Not only did we need more room for materials, there is a need for more staff to adequately meet the needs of congregations and our state federations, local chapters, and Life Ministry Coordinators. We have just added one person and plan to add another within the next two years. There was no more room at our old offices!"

A capital campaign is underway to raise $250,000 to purchase and remodel the property and set up a special maintenance fund with the goal of not using any general funds. Contributions to the LFL capital campaign should be sent in care of the "LFL LIFE CENTER FUND," Lutherans For Life, 1120 South G Avenue, Nevada, IA 50201-2774.

Lutherans For Life is an inter-Lutheran, educational organization. The mission of Lutherans For Life is "To Witness to the Sanctity of Human Life through Education Based on the Word of God. " The organization has 15 state federations and numerous local chapters and Life Ministry Coordinators.

Lutherans For Life believes that the Church is compelled by God's Word to speak and act on behalf of those who are vulnerable and defenseless. The crisis of our times is the repudiation of Biblical truth manifested in the wanton destruction of innocent human life through legalized abortion-on-demand and the growing threat to the lives of others through legalized assisted suicide and euthanasia. Therefore, as Lutherans For Life, we will strive to give witness, from a Biblical perspective, to the Church and society on these and other related issues such as chastity, post-abortion healing, and family life.

Can We Lower Teen Pregnancy and Abortion?

By Georgette Forney, Executive Director of the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life (NOEL)

In 1997, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported there were 872,000 teen pregnancies (ages 15-19) which resulted in 483,698 live births, 254,363 abortions and 133,939 'fetal losses'.

I wonder, is there a way to lower abortion numbers to 0?

The culture that teenagers and young adults are growing up in is vastly different than it was even five years ago. Our society has become pre-occupiedwith anything sexual. Commercials, movies, clothing, music, concerts, theatrical productions and even amusement parks all stem to appeal to our senses via sexual messages. Politicians and sex education in public schools also affirm the message that fulfilling sexual desires is the right of every American.

Young people today have a different view of what love, intimacy, and commitment are and their definitions are characterized by their tolerance for anything and everything. Yet, when I talk with them, I sense a deep desire to experience the traditional meaning of love, intimacy and commitment. But they can't find anyone to show them what those words look like in real life.

Should the Church do anything to try and counter the culture teenagers and young adults are growing up in? Can a community church provide any help or guidance for them? Do you think it's the responsibility of the local church to set abstinence as a standard for those who are not married? And does teaching abstinence, chastity or self-discipline indirectly affect pregnancy/abortion rates, especially among teenagers and young adults?

I believe there are three things every church that values life (including teens and young adults) should be doing;

  1. Invest time and resources in developing a strong youth program, that emphasizes a personal relationship with Jesus, and His teachings on abstinence and self discipline.
  2. Hold Parenting classes that provide information about today's youth culture, partnering with them to set abstinence as a standard for their teen and young adults.
  3. Help families/parents by having ministries and programs that build healthy families and strong marriages.

In our culture today, teens face pressure to become sexually active from the sixth grade and on. What can we, the church provide as far as motivation for them to avoid sexual activity and pregnancy? Are we even interested in trying to help them? When asked who is most influential person in their lives, teen most often reply parents and adults who care about them. I believe it is incumbent on the church to do all we can to help parents care for their kids. The other day, I saw the following question and I believe it provides an important clue on how we can help lower the numbers above:

Dad's should hug their daughters, cause if Dad isn't hugging her, who is?

Abortion Ministry Resources

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Home. Questions and answers. Newsletters. Audio clips. Press releases. Member organizations. Join us. Contact us.

Questions and answers.
Audio clips.
Press releases.
Member organizations.
Join us.
Contact us.