Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Family feud

One of the things I particularly enjoy about being part of a university community is the diversity you find here. I love being in a place where ideas are valued, where you hear different languages and accents everywhere you go. I like the variety of religious viewpoints represented, and the respectful dialogue that takes place between people of different religious faiths.

Why is it that the religious group for whom I feel the least tolerance is those other Christians who don't share my view about how we're supposed to live out the Christian message?

Some guys with bullhorns and big gruesome photos of aborted fetuses showed up on campus yesterday, along with a truck with more huge bloody photographs plastered on the sides that kept roaring up and down the street, and I couldn't resist the opportunity to go out and dialogue with them. This group turned out to be part of a national organization that travels around doing this, and I found myself relieved that they weren't our students. I stopped to talk with a young man who pressed a gory full-color flier into my hands.

I didn't expect to change his mind, but I had to try. I asked him if he thinks women have abortions because they don't know that pregnancy produces babies. I asked him if he thinks this protest is an effective way to reduce the number of abortions taking place. I told him I think working on ways to support women so they can raise their children would be a more Christian approach. He told me there are plenty of Christians out there willing to adopt unwanted babies, which wasn't my point at all.

He wore a sort of deer-caught-in-the-headlights expression, but his lips were pressed together in resolve. He explained that he must tell the world that abortion is murder; like Jesus chasing the moneychangers from the temple. With a whip! he added. I told him I thought the situation in the temple was different, and I asked him if he could think of a time when Jesus dealt with someone who was suffering by lecturing them instead of taking care of them. He couldn't; in the back of my mind I was wondering if there is such a story that momentarily escaped my recollection.

I don't think he was expecting this. To be challenged by people who disagree, yes, but not by someone who claims to agree and cites the Bible back to him. He seemed to be leaning just slightly backward, away from me.

I went on about the compassion of Jesus but he didn't answer that. At a certain point it became clear that we would continue going around in circles until one of us broke it off. I went back to work thinking I'd won the argument on points, but neither of us changed. Maybe he was thinking the same. I was frustrated because I think this tactic is all wrong. I believe that if we're ever going to change minds about abortion it isn't going to be by waving ugly photos in peoples' faces. I think we should be concentrating more on changing attitudes and advancing programs to support mothers and children, but I haven't gotten anywhere with that idea here. This group is also known for being very confrontational about other issues such as the sinfulness of homosexuality. I don't think they succeed in convincing many gays, either. I hand his flier back to him and walk away.

I'm not the kind of Christian who normally lectures people about the Bible, and that part was sort of fun. Maybe this is a whole new start for me? I imagined walking back into my office and asking everyone if they've accepted Jesus as their savior; that would certainly turn heads. But no, I would never do that. I like to tell myself I proselytize by the way I lead my life, but part of me knows that's a cowardly answer. Back at my desk I continue to feel upset, at least in part because of all the dead baby pictures--but maybe also because I suspect I shouldn't have been so pleased with my part in this conversation?


At 11:33 AM, Blogger St. Michael the Archangel said...

I am curious as to what the name of this group was?

I haven't ever gone out and done something like this, but I do pray for mothers that are about to commit murder. I think that Planned Parenthood advertises what they do in a very sneaky way, some of the women that do this, honestly do not know where life begins, and that is the real trajedy, because when they do get the proper education and realize that they killed a real person, their own child, that is when they struggle with their own lives, and it leads to suicide, or deep psychological problems.

I know my family sometimes goes out to abortion mills with a Priest and group to kneel down and pray the rosary to help women choose the right decision and I agree with this tactic. But I also have to say that showing women that may be thinking about abortion or have not been educated on itl by showing them these bloody pics, they can see that in fact the babies are real humans and that may be in the only time in their lives that they had given it a thought.

I just saw in the news a few weeks ago, that there are no women that have formed a group with Planned Parenthood to help prevent abortion mills from shutting down, this particular group wears t-shirts that say "I had an abortion", that is sad! They walk around proud that they killed and got away with it, what a trajedy. I do agree with in that those guys should have been more concerned about education for these poor young mothers.

Good post!


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