For a number of years, Save the Storks’ staff and volunteers criss-crossed the country each summer in Stork Buses to share our pro-life message at Christian music festivals and other types of faith-based events. We called it our “Summer Stork Tour.”
These events had great bands and speakers, but our favorite thing about these events was interacting with people at our display in the exhibit tents.
Over the years, we’ve spoken to tens of thousands of people who dropped by our exhibits. When people approached our booth, we often asked them what they thought of the “pro-life movement.” There responses weren’t always pretty.
Many said they thought of shouting picketers in front of abortion clinics. Or pro-lifers getting into shouting matches with pro-choicers. Or t-shirts that said things like “Abortion is Mean” or crazy pro-life bumper stickers.
Many described our movement as being judgmental and loud. And sometimes they even told us they thought pro-lifers were more interested in being right than loving people.
Like I said, it wasn’t pretty.
They didn’t know it, but they were actually describing me. Not as I was at that time, but as I had been in my teens and early twenties.
I was guilty of all those things. Seriously! I was angry and sometimes even judgmental. I was loud and aggressive. I protested. I picketed. I even used a megaphone. I loved a good debate and guess who printed and sold the shirt that said “Abortion is Mean?”
It’s what I saw modeled in the early days of the pro-life movement, and I assumed it was the only way. The right way. I assumed that these tactics were making a difference because I really did care and wanted to bring about change.
Fortunately, God brought some wise and caring mentors into my life who helped me discover a different way to be pro-life. A kinder and gentler way.
As we traveled from event to event, we began to realize that we had an opportunity to share with attendees about the mainstream pro-life movement. It was not loud and angry.
Those conversations have convinced me that we who are active in the pro-life movement have an opportunity—and maybe even a responsibility—to change what others think about being pro-life.
To put it another way, you and I can be a part of the new pro-life movement. “I’m very pro life,” one Christian leader told me. “But I won’t be associated with the pro-life movement in my community. It’s hateful and judgmental.”
When I told Him about how the pro-life movement had changed, and about how pregnancy centers all over the nation were serving women in very practical and loving ways, he said, “Now that’s a pro-life movement I could be a part of!”
I want to be clear that God is the author of this new movement. Not Save the Storks. Not me. Not any one person. We just get to come along for the ride!
The following represents what we’ve observed in our changing movement over the past decade or so.
The new pro-life movement:
|Uncaring and mean-spirited.||Kind and compassionate.|
|Judgmental and focused on being right.||Non-judgmental and focused on love and grace.|
|Angry and confrontational.||Approachable and winsome.|
|Stodgy and old-school.||Fun and youthful.|
|Distant. It’s not about communicating at.||Relational. It’s about conversing with.|
|Vilifying mothers who consider abortion and it’s not about being indifferent to her needs.||Celebrating her life and motherhood and it focuses on serving her needs.|
|Lacking quality and excellence.||Full of quality and excellence.|
|Disorganized and sloppy.||Strategic and focused.|
|White, middle-aged+, and female.||Ethnically-diverse, age-diverse, and gender-diverse.|
|Reactive and backward thinking.||Proactive and innovative thinking.|
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on how the new pro-life movement is different than the one I used to be a part of. I think it’s different in at least three ways. Different goals, methods, and values.
Join me as we learn more about how the pro-life movement has changed and why that means we can truly make a difference in our changing world!