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Mark Cassara’s group “got lots of looks” as they stood at a busy intersection in Stamford, Conn., with red tape over their mouths on Tuesday. A TV news crew had a camera rolling to capture the scene.
“People were staring at us, wondering what we were doing,” said Cassara, the youth pastor at New Beginning Community Church in Darien, Conn. “The majority of people accepted the fliers we were handing out. One group of kids had some derogatory comments, but we just shook them off.”
Cassara’s group of 15 or so teenagers and young adults were among more than 100,000 people across the country taking part in the eighth annual Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity. They silenced their voices, Cassara said, “to stand in for those who have been silenced forever by abortion.”
Across the continent in Costa Mesa, Calif, 14-year-old Cassandra Mohr was keeping silent for the seventh year in a row. Although she’s home-schooled, she takes a Spanish class with other home-schooled kids. When she arrived, her teacher thanked her in front of the class for being willing to stand up for her beliefs. And when she showed up for her weekly rehearsal with the Southern California Children’s Chorus, she removed the red tape over her mouth, but not to speak.
“I just sang,” she said.
Her sister Isabella, 11, also stayed silent for the day.
“I don’t understand why abortion can still be legal,” Cassandra Mohr said. “It’s so obviously wrong.”
At the University of Florida in Gainesville, officers and members of the Pro-Life Alliance met up at the campus’ Free Speech center to bear silent witness to the holocaust that has killed one-third of the generation conceived since 1973, when abortion on demand became legal in the U.S. Another dozen or so students wore red tape as they attended classes.
“We got a lot more positive support than I expected,” said Joshua Brewer, secretary of the Alliance. “It was kind of surprising.” Journalism students who wanted to interview them accepted written replies.
Brewer kept the tape on all day, but in a class where he absolutely had to speak, he would take it off and put it on his shirt. Did it hurt coming off? “Surprisingly,” he said, “it didn’t.”
Bryan Kemper, the founder of Stand True Ministry and now the Youth Outreach Director for Priests for Life, started the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity in 2004. This year, students at more than 2,500 schools used their right to free speech to keep absolutely quiet.
“They don’t have to argue with anyone, they don’t have to convince anyone,” Kemper said. “It’s an easy way for young people to get that message across.”
But staying silent is not so easy, Miss Mohr said. “Especially when you take the tape off to eat or drink, it’s really hard to remember not to talk.”
Kemper said he’s heard testimonies from “so many kids who are first-timers,” and from young pregnant women who used their silence to explain why their choice was life. There are countless stories from students who were ridiculed by teachers or friends, but stood up to it.
“They recognize the spiritual warfare going on on their campuses and they want to do something about it,” Kemper said.
“Young people have so much to say about the friends and relatives they have lost to abortion,” said Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life. “But when they’re silent, their message is impossible to ignore.”
Miss Mohr agreed.
“Sometimes the only way to get someone’s attention is to not speak,” she said. “If you go out with red tape on your mouth, there’s always going to be crowds around you, trying to figure out what you’re doing.”
To read more stories about the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity, and to sign up for next year, go to www.silentday.org.