Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

Did Idaho Right to Life Jump the Shark?

Posted by Adam Graham on January 22, 2007

Dennis Mansfield thinks so. He was at the March for Life and had some thoughts on it, writing:

On a c-c-c-cold day, this past weekend, of sunshine and jubilant emotions (prepared by the fans of BSU and the University’s athletic dept.), two Marches occurred. Both started from a near-by perimeter point and both ended at the Capitol. Both were colorful and had emotions. One spoke of victory and the other of defeat. I saw the contrast with my own eyes…

Short term, the pro-life march seemed to provide some in attendance with an emotional lift – a once a year cheerleading session. In the longer lens of history, it was a march of the dead. From the forced nature of posing “pro-life leadership” to the incredibly divisive speech by a self-absorbed 30-something year old youth pastor, the event was a flop. Three times a speaker spoke of how those of us in the Pro-Life community had “lost the fight, lost in the Courts, etc”. Several times more than that, the main speaker, dressed inappropriately in jeans and with a slovenly appearance, divided the audience on issues of the death penalty, the war in Iraq and the way in which we spend taxpayer monies to end poverty in the US. He edged ever so closely to “gay marriage” but seemed to shy away from torquing off everybody.

Now, I don’t totally agree with what Mr. Mansfield had to say here. I hate to point out, but it’s not all that uncommon for speakers to appear in Jeans at the event. Several times, the lobbyists for Cornerstone Institute and/or Right to Life have done it. It’s Idaho, it’s not uncommon, though I could see how the sweat shirt could be pushing it a tad.

Espil’s speech was a “seamless garment” approach to pro-life, concluding that being pro-life meant spending more on government programs fot the poor, no Capital Punishment, and an anti-war position. Still Espil hit on some powerful points such as the need for pro-lifers to open their homes to women in crisis pregnancies and the need for our churches to become places where God’s work is done rather than social clubs. It was a poweful mix that I felt was worth hearing if not worth following to the letter (particularly when Espil veered off in leftist directions.) Espil’s veering was hardly surprising as he was on the board of Democrats for Life. I do think that avoiding the other issues he brought up would have made the speech better, but that’s me.

You can judge the speech yourself by listening here.

However, the general tone of the event was problematic and more endemic of the local Right to Life marches. The highlight of the event is the march. At the South Steps of the Capitol, we are treated to fairly tame speeches. I’ve gotten to the point that I tuned out some of the preliminaries. Espil’s speech if nothing else shook things up at a dreary event. The tone of defeat was there.

When we go to these events, we always seem to leave the same way: no action plan, no idea what we’re going to do to address the issue, and no direction. The benefit of the March is that we get to see a bunch of fellow pro-lifers and keep our appointed vigil each year.

And Right to Life approved of it all. What a loss of credibility. Quite frankly, what a loss of reason to exist; but then maybe not….maybe they want to have a defeatist mindset… CAN “keep fighting” an issue when it is never solved, can’t you….and the dollars keep comin’ in. Hmmm.

Just hours later BSU gave us all a reason to cheer. Same streets, same day. Different mood. Many pro-lifers in attendance, many pro-choicers too. Why the difference in the two marches?

Because Victory breeds Victory. Joy and life go with those who promote joy and life. The future is a breath of fresh air to those who see things as they are not now and believe in what can occur.

It’s hard to inspire people once you’ve given into despair. Though, it’s also hard to put on a happy face after the November elections.

It’s also not enough to criticize. Doing becomes vitally important and finding alternatives and being willing to do and to offer alternatives to leadership that sees victory as impossible or perhaps is too tired to see the hope is as vital as pointing out the lack of hope that we perceive.


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