Two recent episodes in the abortion wars are worth recounting here. Both demonstrate the importance of pro-life resistance to the culture of death. The first is a bittersweet story, in which the pro-death camp thought it had the upper hand, but it turned out to be a good news story for the pro-life movement.
Black Baptist pastor Walter Hoye spent 19 days recently in a jail near Oakland, California. His crime? Seeking to prevent the slaughter of the innocents by standing up for the unborn. As World Magazine reports, Hoye was sentenced “to 30 days in jail after Hoye refused a plea deal that included three years’ probation, a small fine, and an order that he stay at least 100 yards away from Family Planning Specialists, an Oakland abortion clinic.
“Passionate about the sky-high abortion rate among African-Americans, Hoye began offering men and women assistance at the clinic in 2006. About one in three Oakland residents is black, compared with a statewide African-American population of 6 percent. And though blacks make up only 12 percent of the U.S. population, they account for one-third of all abortions performed in the United States. More than three in 10 black women abort their unborn children.
“According to the 2006 census, deaths now exceed live births among African-Americans. ‘We’re no longer replacing ourselves,’ Hoye said. ‘So we’re not using terms like holocaust and genocide just to elicit a response. It’s the truth’.”
The story of his incarceration is discussed: “As Hoye made his way to an empty bunk, a few prisoners, mostly black and Latino, dogged his path. ‘You smuggle in any drugs, man?’ one of them asked. ‘No,’ Hoye said quietly. Then the veteran inmates left him alone, he told me, except for ‘one of the brothers who was kind enough to help me make up my bed.’
“A few minutes later, another man walked over to Hoye’s bunk and jabbed his finger at a newspaper he was holding. ‘This you?’ he said, eyeing Hoye skeptically. Hoye peered at the Oakland Tribune headline: ‘Anti-abortion pastor chooses jail.’ ‘Yeah, that’s me,’ he said. In the next moment, the inmate was striding up and down the length of the cell, announcing, ‘Hey, he don’t have to be here! He turned down probation! He doing straight time for what he believed in!’”
Conditions were far from ideal, but Hoye was willing to stand up for his convictions. But the story gets even better. Hoye was able to share the Gospel with fellow inmates, as well as tell them the truth about abortion: “‘I would be holding court with about 30 guys, explaining why I did what I did,’ he said. ‘I explained what an abortion actually does, that it takes an innocent human life. We held prayer vigils, we had Bible studies. I must have counseled and mentored guys all day and all night. It got to the point where we started talking seriously about Christ’.”
The story concludes, “Released from jail on April 7, Hoye rejoined his wife, Lori, in their Oakland home. Today, he is not sorry for his choice. ‘I’ve been a jail chaplain in jail before, and even had the privilege of being a guest preacher at San Quentin. Being an inmate is completely different. I was actually one of them and it gave me a different kind of credibility. I’m sure my adversary meant my incarceration for evil, but God used it for good’.”
The second story involves the ongoing saga at the University of Notre Dame, and its decision to feature pro-abortion President Obama at its May commencement address, and to present him with an award. This Catholic University has been roundly condemned by pro-life Catholics for its betrayal of Christian principles.
As bad as the Notre Dame decision is to feature the extremely pro-death Obama, the good news is there has been a very strong response from many Catholics on this. Let me provide an update on the pro-life fight back thus far. A number of leading Catholics have condemned the decision, and so far 48 Catholic Bishops and Archbishops have publically expressed their disapproval of the decision.
Another pro-life group has announced that at the moment Notre Dame has lost over $8.2 million in withheld donations, because of its Obama stance. According to the prolife website ReplaceJenkins.com (referring to the Notre Dame president Fr. John Jenkins), an online effort urging alumni and donors to the University of Notre Dame to withhold donations has proven hugely successful.
And in another blow to the beleaguered university, an award that was to be given to a leading Catholic laywoman has been declined. Pro-family and pro-life academic Mary Ann Glendon was set to receive the University of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal at the May 17 commencement. But the former United States ambassador to the Vatican has written to the University president saying that she will not attend the ceremony and will not accept the award.
This is a part of her public letter: “First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions ‘should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles’ and that such persons ‘should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.’ That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it.
“A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision – in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops – to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.”
Also, prolife activist Randall Terry sent a letter to the alumni of Notre Dame, which included these words: “I know that some cautious souls fear ‘strident’ rhetoric, or ‘controversial’ images. I ask those friends to remember the Gospels: remember Jesus turning over tables; chasing people with a whip; calling Pharisees the children of hell, a brood of vipers, white washed tombs, and sons of the devil.
“In considering an appropriate response to killing babies and hurting mothers, remember Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Nathan, and other prophets – who rebuked kings and priests – who fearlessly condemned child-sacrifice in their day. They used rhetoric and images equal to the crimes they condemned. Shouldn’t we follow their example? Are we above them? Or do we and our leaders have an unholy attachment to our ‘reputation’ and ‘dignity’ that shackles and muzzles us?
“In the fight to end slavery, Frederick Douglass said, ‘It is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced’.”
It is encouraging to see the actions of prolifers, whether individuals like Pastor Hoye suffering quietly in prison for his beliefs, or the concerted effort at group activism over the Obama scandal. There is hope yet, when concerned and committed men and women stand up and let their voices be heard. May their actions inspire us to never give up.