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Interfaith pro-life service mourns 40 years of abortion

By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
(Email Renee)

The keynote speaker at the Siouxland Interfaith Pro-life Prayer Memorial cautioned pro-lifers about thinking victory over abortion was near.

Scott Klusendorf, president of the Life Issues Institute, told the nearly 400 pro-lifers at the Feb. 10 service at Sunnbrook Community Church that there was much work to be done.

“I have news for you, Time Magazine was wrong last month when it said pro-lifers were winning. It was wrong when it said pro-choicers were losing and I don’t have to look real far to see that,” said Klusendorf, who presents talks throughout the country, teaching how to defend the pro-life perspective in the public square.

“This country has elected the most pro-abortion president in its history and didn’t do so simply because people didn’t know any better.”

Personal choice

He also cited the Pew Research study a few weeks ago indicated a majority of Americans under age 25 want Roe v. Wade and its provisions to remain the law of the land. Some may argue that they don’t even know what Roe v. Wade specifically says, but the speaker said what it ultimately comes down is research shows “a whole lot of people think right and wrong on abortion is a matter of personal preference.”

Klusendorf discussed society’s views on relativism and coexistence.

Bumper stickers that preach the concept “coexist,” he noted, do not base it in the context of everyone getting along in a civil sense.

“I’ve got news for you; you don’t need that kind of message here in America. You don’t get killed if you believe something different. You know where you need that kind of message? Iran,” he said. “But here in the United States, the ‘coexist’ sticker has come to mean something else.”

What the message has come to advocate, the speaker stressed, is something along these lines: “Don’t you dare claim to be right on a religious or moral issue because your view is just one of many.”

That perspective, Klusendorf said, does not promote tolerance of people but tolerance of ideas.

“Pope Benedict XVI put it real well. He said that in the 21st Century we suffer under a dictatorship of relativism.” The speaker interpreted the pope’s comment to mean, “Our culture has become so permissive, you can marry your canary if you want to but the minute you claim your view is true, especially on theology or ethics, we are not going to tolerate you anymore. That is out of bounds.”

Klusendorf, a Presbyterian, said the idea that all religions or moral perspectives are equally valid is false.
To make a point he made two claims and defined the differences. 1) Chocolate ice cream is better than vanilla. 2) It is wrong to torture toddlers for fun.

“Right away you know the difference between those two,” he said. “You immediately grasp that those two statements are different. The ice cream one has to do with personal tastes but when I am talking about torturing toddlers for fun I am out of the realm of likes and dislikes, I am talking about what is right and wrong regardless of my personal preferences, regardless of my personal taste.”

The problem is, Klusendorf stressed, today’s culture doesn’t always know the difference between those types of claims.

“Morality is what I should or shouldn’t do in spite of my wants and desires,” he said. “Today I want to talk to you about having the courage to do the right thing when no one believes there is a right thing. How do we as pro-lifers make a case for our view in that kind of world?”

The speaker said it was essential to know how to argue well and be able to make a case for what you believe.

Having courage

He stressed the need to have courage for three things.

“Number one, we will have to have the courage to say we are right and do so unashamedly,” Klusendorf said. “Secondly, we will have to have the courage to make our case under fire. It isn’t going to work to shout a conclusion. The third thing we are going to have to do is take heat in the context of where God is placing us and sometimes that is going to hurt.”

He suggested that the next time someone tells you not to force your views on them, respond, “Why not?”
“Any answer they give will be an example of them imposing their view on you,” the speaker said.

He offered suggestions on effective ways to make the case against abortion. From science – the unborn are distinct, living and whole human beings. From philosophy – there is no relevant difference between the embryo you once were and the adults you are today. Unlike a car that is constructed and put together piece by piece – with an embryo everything needed is there from the very beginning.

“We have to become equipped to make that case in two minutes or less,” Klusendorf added.

Some may say that an embryo is a biological person, but it’s not a human person. He pointed out four differences between the embryos and adults: 1) size, 2) level of development, 3) environment and 4) degree of dependency.

He challenged them to act.

“It is not enough for you to show up today and say I’ve done my duty, we are done with right to life until next year,” Klusendorf said. “We are going to have to get serious about making our case at every opportunity – telling people the truth and showing them the truth.”

As the service began, Sunnybrook Pastor Jeff Moes offered a word of welcome and Dr. Don Cork of Central Baptist Church, master of ceremonies, introduced Bishop Walker Nickless who led the opening prayer. Cork commended the bishop and the Catholic Church for all of the work they have done in the pro-life movement.

Taking the stage, Bishop Nickless thanked everyone who planned and attended the interfaith service.

“Forty years of abortion in our country is long enough,” the bishop said. “May the power, sensitivity and sincerity of our prayer make a difference.”

Bishop Nickless read one of his favorite Psalms – Psalm 139 – before praying, “O God, source of all life and goodness, you fashion human lives in your image and likeness. Through your love, give each human life dignity, sanctity and priceless worth. Awaken in every heart, new reverence for the least of your children.”

Presentation of Roses

The memorial service included a presentation of 40 roses which involved people from 1 through 40. They processed down the main aisle as a bell tolled and inspirations quotes and Bible verses were read. The age-specific participants and the flowers represented each year of legalized abortion and the millions of babies who died at the hands of abortion.

Prior to the rose ceremony, Dr. Cork recognized Larry Walsh for his long-time involvement with the Presentation of the Roses and for his work on the service’s planning committee.

Other highlights of the memorial service included the Knights of Columbus, Garrigan Assembly, 4th Degree, provided an honor guard for the clergy of various denominations and special guests as well as music by Jill Miller.

After a coffee social concluded, Deacon Dick Billings of Blessed Sacrament Church led closing prayers at Trinity Heights’ Circle of Life for the ceremonial Final Destination of Roses. The roses were laid upon the Tomb of the Unborn Child in the cold weather to wither and die symbolizing lives lost in the cold reality of abortion.

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