Uniting for Life
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
The Consistent Ethic of Life: Myths and
An Amazing Week in Washington
The Church, the State and the Media: How Should They
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
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 (In March 2007, NOEL changed its name to Anglicans for Life)
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.