Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places like the first apostles, who preached Christ and the good news of salvation in the squares of cities, towns and villages."
Thus spoke Pope John Paul II on August 15, 1993, to the young people gathered in Denver for World Youth Day. The United States is about to hear a strong echo of that message, for young and old alike to proclaim the Gospel of Life in public places from coast to coast.
This new vigor is being unleashed thanks to a Supreme Court victory that came about on February 26, 2003 in the Scheidler vs. NOW case.
Joseph Scheidler, Director of the Pro-life Action League, has inspired activists for decades to take the pro-life message into the squares of cities, towns and villages. He has done so with such success that it has cut into the business profits of the killing centers. In the eyes of the National Organization for Women, this could not be tolerated. So in 1986, they took the activists to court, and tried to use the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) statutes against them. RICO laws were crafted to stop organized crime and drug trafficking, not the peaceful, non-violent intervention of those who are trying to save lives.
But this year, in an 8 to 1 ruling, the court said that RICO cannot be used against the pro-life activists, even if their activities deprived the abortion mills of business.
The favorable ruling, however, is only part one of the solution. Part two is that grassroots activists take up the mandate of the Court and the Pope, and fully utilize their First Amendment rights by organizing public prayer vigils, picketing, leafleting, street preaching, sidewalk counseling, and other demonstrations and marches from coast to coast.
The call to do exactly this will be issued at the Bring America Back to Life rally and convention in Chicago on Saturday, June 7. Frankly, I wouldn't miss it for the world, and I hope you don't, either. It will display the spirit of the Acts of the Apostles, where you read that the apostles did not sit around hoping people would come to them to be converted. Instead, they went to the people, who did not even know they needed the Gospel. Moreover, the apostles did not plan their activities in a risk-averse way, trying at every turn to avoid unpopularity, rejection, fines, or jail. Rather, they were impelled by the truth of Christ, and ready to pay any price for proclaiming it.
The First Amendment protects our ability to challenge the Culture of Death and its spokespersons. The law cannot forbid our speech just because others may find it disagreeable, offensive, or upsetting. Let's use this tool without fear as we carry out the Pope's words, "Do not be afraid to break out of comfortable and routine modes of living in order to take up the challenge of making Christ known."
(For detailed information on the June 7 event, visit www.prolifeaction.org.)