Uniting for Life

December 2002

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


The Church, the State and the Media: How Should They Relate?
Silent No More: A New National Campaign Begins
Publication: Thinking Theologically About Abortion
The Consistent Ethic of Life: Myths and Realities
An Amazing Week in Washington


The Church, the State and the Media: How Should They Relate?

The problems of church-state-media relationships were addressed at a workshop that took place at National Right to Life's 2002 Convention in Pittsburgh last June.

Ernest Ohlhoff, NPRC treasurer and director of NRLC's Outreach department spoke of aspects of the State's relationship with the Church, particularly of the way the phrase "separation of Church and State" has been used by some government agencies to restrict the prophetic witness of the Church on issues that are not deemed "politically correct."

Referring to what he called "The Great Scare Tactic," Mr. Ohlhoff said a climate of fear has been created by the constant cautioning to churches to not violate various government agency regulations, especially by the IRS. This is a baseless warning, he asserted, because "in reality the Church has a moral imperative to speak out on these issues, and the cautioning is simply word play to make the Churches nervous and put fear into the hearts of pastors."

Laura Echevarria, NRLC's director of Media Relations, addressed the challenge of dealing with the media. She said often pro-life issues are covered by the religion reporter because it is viewed as a religious issue, not a civil rights issue. She pointed out that many reporters don't attend church, some may not believe in God, and they don't know pro-lifers. "To them we are almost an alien species they've never run across," she commented. Thus, it is critical to create a relationship with journalists so they get to know you and your issue and avoid stereotyping pro-lifers.

Fr. Frank Pavone, founder - director of Priests for Life (PFL) and an NPRC board member, addressed these issues from the Church's viewpoint. After pointing out that the Church is eternal and divinely established while the state and the media are relative and passing, he stressed that "at the same time, the Church sees both state and media as gifts of God to be used in the service of God."

Christians are obligated to be good citizens not just in obeying just laws, but also in taking an active part in shaping them, Fr. Pavone stated. "The Church expects us to do this in an active way, in an informed way and in an integral way. You do not have two consciences, one for Church and one for the state.... The hands that are raised in Church on Sunday ...are the same hands that pull down the lever in the voting booth."

"Unless the Church appropriately challenges the state to obey the law of God, you then have the formula for a totalitarian state.... Simply to have the power to ...enact a certain policy does not give one the right to do so.... This is where proper balance between Church and state is crucial to the very survival of civilization," the PFL director asserted.

Believers within a state "are not second class citizens simply because our view of public policy is derived from our beliefs about God or what Scripture says." Pro-lifers are sometimes made to feel "that somehow if our beliefs are religiously motivated, they have less of a place in shaping public policy than the beliefs of those who are secularly motivated."

Fr. Pavone strongly urged pro-lifers to use the media, to develop relationships with those who decide what is going to be in the media. "In your pro-life group, school, or church, when was the last time you asked a reporter if you could have a meeting or go to lunch with them?", Father challenged. He said we need to know the local editors, publishers, broadcast decision-makers, inform them of our events and invite them. Church media and religious broadcasters are also an enormous resource for communicating the pro-life message. "These three realities [Church, State and Media] fascinate people. It should fascinate us ...invite us to explore ...how we should use them in service of one another and of God."


Silent No More: A New National Campaign Begins

Women Encouraged to Speak Out About Their Abortion Experience

By Georgette Forney, Executive Director of NOEL and Co-Founder of Silent No More

This coming January 2003, as our nation recognizes 30 years of legalized abortion, something will take place that has never been done before. Women throughout this country who have had abortions will gather at state capitols and in our nation's capitol to publicly speak out about their abortion experience. This mobilization of women will be the beginning of a national campaign to raise awareness about the negative after-effects of abortion and speak the truth about abortion's emotional, spiritual and physical consequences for women.

The campaign is entitled: "Silent No More - Women speak out about their abortion experience." The campaign will also seek to reach the many women who are suffering in silence, offering them abortion recovery, help and resources.

Please spread the word about the campaign. Encourage women who regret their abortion to participate in it!

The campaign is being sponsored by a partnership between NOEL (the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life), the Justice Foundation and Priests for Life. In addition, we have also developed an ad hoc coalition of abortion recovery programs to provide the support and healing for women who come forward when they learn help is available. Members of the coalition include; Care-Net Pregnancy Centers, Heartbeat International, Ramah International, Rachel's Vineyard, Project Rachel, NOPARH (National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing), Hope Alive USA, The Elliot Institute, The Chalfont House, American Victims of Abortion, an outreach program of the National Right to Life Committee and many others.

Women who have experienced abortion are invited to participate in the Silent No More event in their state or at the event taking place in our nations capitol. More than 35 states will hold Silent No More events at various times during the week of January 18-26, 2003. The event in Washington, D.C. will take place on January 22, 2003 after the March for Life.

As a woman who had an abortion at age 16, I believe we are the voice that hasn't been heard. There is a lot of talk about whether or not abortion should be legal, but very little attention is given to the women who have actually had abortions. I regret having an abortion and I know that there are millions of women who feel the same way. The truth is abortion affects us physically, emotionally and spiritually. It's time to speak honestly about the pain we've lived with and we want to help women who are hurting find healing. After 30 years it's time to listen to the women who have experienced it. Silent No More needs to connect with women who regret their abortion and are ready to speak out. During the events, each woman is encouraged to participate by sharing a brief testimony, and the rest of the time holding a sign that reads "I Regret My Abortion." While the campaign is encouraging women to speak publicly, we recognize not everyone is comfortable doing so. Therefore, we also invite women to join us and simply hold a sign as their testimony

The goal is to have as many women as possible participate in the Silent No More events. You can direct women to sign up by going to the Silent No More website www.HelpAfterAbortion.com or by calling 800-707-6635. More information will be sent to them after they register.

Could you please tell your friends and colleagues about Silent No More? Please feel free to cut and paste this information for your newsletter or forward this email on to friends and family! You can also contact me by e-mail at Georgette@NOELforLife.org or call 800-707-6635.

I appreciate your help in promoting the Silent No More campaign and for all the work you do for life!


Thinking Theologically About Abortion

Publication of the National Pro-Life Religious Council, Edited by Paul T. Stallsworth

Great Resource for Churches!

An ecumenical conference for pastors, entitled "Building a Ministry for Life," sponsored by the National Pro-Life Religious Council, in the fall of 1998, has resulted in this collection of reflections on the spiritual crisis that abortion is for the churches.

Order at discount price of 6.95 each plus $1.50 postage. Make checks payable to National Right to Life Committee Outreach Dept., 512 Tenth St. N.W., Washington, DC 20004


The Consistent Ethic of Life: Myths and Realities

Fr. Frank Pavone, Founding Director, Priests for Life

"Where life is involved, the service of charity must be profoundly consistent. It cannot tolerate bias and discrimination, for human life is sacred and inviolable at every stage and in every situation; it is an indivisible good. We need then to show care for all life and for the life of everyone" (Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, 87).

Consistency is not hard to understand. It flows from the nature of love itself. If we love God, we love the people He has created and redeemed. Moreover, if we acknowledge that only God has dominion over human life, this obviously includes every human life. Christians are called to be concerned about abortion and euthanasia, education and health care, crime, war and hunger, and a much lengthier list of issues impacting the dignity of human life. The view that sees a connection among all these issues is known as the consistent ethic of life.

Yet this view is widely misunderstood in two key ways.

First, some think it means all issues are of equal importance. They see life issues as linked arithmetically; they are lined up and counted. Actually, they are linked geometrically. Some values and rights build upon others. In their 1998 document, Living the Gospel of Life, the US bishops explained it this way:

"Opposition to abortion and euthanasia does not excuse indifference to those who suffer from poverty violence and injustice.... But being 'right' in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life. Indeed, the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the 'rightness' of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community. If we understand the human person as the "temple of the Holy Spirit" - the living house of God - then these latter issues fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house. All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house's foundation. These directly and immediately violate the human person's most fundamental right - the right to life. Neglect of these issues is the equivalent of building our house on sand" (n. 23).

The other common misunderstanding is that every Christian is called to address every issue. Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who was a key advocate of the consistent ethic, corrected this misunderstanding by saying, "A consistent ethic does not say everyone in the Church must do all things, but it does say that as individuals and groups pursue one issue, whether it is opposing abortion or capital punishment, the way we oppose one threat should be related to support for a systemic vision of life. It is not necessary or possible for every person to engage in each issue, but it is both possible and necessary for the Church as a whole to cultivate a conscious explicit connection among the several issues " (A Consistent Ethic of Life: Continuing the Dialogue, The William Wade Lecture Series, St. Louis University, March 11, 1984).

There is no justification for a gap between "social justice" and "right to life," and where there is such a gap, then in Cardinal Bernardin's words, "The ethic cuts two ways, not one." The heart of justice is the defense of life and of all the rights that flow from it. Consistency is not optional. If our positions flow primarily from political commitments, strange gaps of inconsistency begin to appear. But if our positions flow from our commitment to the Gospel, we will be consistent. And the day of victory for life, justice, and peace will be hastened.


An Amazing Week in Washington

By Zoe M. Hicks, The United Methodist Church

Zoe Hicks is a lobbyist for Lifewatch, the newsletter published by the Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality.

As a Lifewatch lobbyist, I spent a week last summer in Washington, DC. Then and there I met with at least one person in each of the offices of the 65 members of the US House of Representatives and the US Senate who are also members of The United Methodist Church. In these meetings, I presented information on Lifewatch and United Methodist positions on partial-birth abortion, human cloning, physician-assisted suicide, and other sanctity-of-life issues.

Each day of the week I laid out a schedule for congressional and senatorial office visits. Then I prayed for strength, since the work was physically exhausting. I prayed about things that seemed confusing or unclear. I prayed over the materials to be handed out. I prayed to be a blessing to those I met. I even prayed to meet with some US Representatives and US Senators. God answered all the prayers. I had sufficient strength for each day; my questions were answered; all information packages were delivered with a smile; and I met with three representatives (Mac Collins [R-GA], Cynthia McKinney [D-GA], though she is not a United Methodist, and Ralph Hall [D-TX]) and one senator (Max Cleland [D-GA]). (Not surprisingly, the Georgians were most willing to meet this lobbyist because she happens to be registered to vote in their state!)

Second, this first-time lobbyist was impressed by how partisan Capitol Hill actually is. We all know this in a general sense, but I had the opportunity to see it "up close and dirty." For example, opposing forces can prevent a bill such as the ban on partial-birth abortion from even getting to the floor.

During the week, the House of Representatives voted to ban partial-birth abortion. The vote was 274-151. Rep. Hall commented that was a good majority, but he could not understand why anyone would support something as hideous as partial-birth abortion.

There is more good news on cloning. No one that I spoke with is in favor of it. Generally, the only research favored by United Methodists in Congress is research using stem cells harvested from umbilical cords (which does not kill a human embryo). And Rep. Hall, who is the chair of the House Committee on Science, has distinguished himself as strongly pro-life on cloning.

WHAT CAN WE DO? After spending a week with United Methodist legislators and their staffs, I would suggest that we:

(1) Pray that the senior policy advisor of each legislator be pro-life or at least open to reason on the life issues. Pray for a new US Supreme Court justice who would not strike down a partial birth abortion ban.

(2) As individuals we should get politically involved. Support candidates who are pro-life. Campaign for them. Display yard signs for them. Contribute even small amounts to their campaigns.

(3) Write to your US Representatives and US Senators, especially your senators. This is far more effective than commonly thought, because it is so seldom done. As has been said, all that is needed for evil to triumph is for good people to remain silent. So speak up.

(4) Have a servant attitude toward the opposition. Our legislators of both parties need our prayers to discharge, with faithfulness, their political responsibilities in our nation's governance. They have an awesome task, and we need to remember to pray for them and to write to them. God can use anyone, if we will but pray.

(5) If you are in Washington, visit your representatives and senators. Because you are a voter, they will be hospitable to you. Letting them know what you think might well positively influence their votes on the life issues.