D.C.’s March for Life reaches a new group: evangelicals

Ryan Dobson, GOP’s Eric Cantor, Dem. Dan Lipinski all planned to join in
Ryan Dobson

Ryan Dobson

The following comes from a Jan. 17 story on Religious News Service.

Evangelicals are the most likely religious group to say that abortion should be illegal in all cases. So why would organizers of the March for Life, the annual demonstration on the Washington Mall, hire someone to reach out to that group?

The 41st march, scheduled for today, Wednesday (Jan. 22), has traditionally had a strong Catholic presence, with priests and nuns marching on or around the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. Its founder, Nellie Gray, who died in 2012, was Roman Catholic, as well as is her successor, Jeanne Monahan.

“The march has a very Catholic feel to it with lots of rosaries, Virgin Marys and crucifixes,” said Jon Shields, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College. “It hasn’t been particularly savvy about reaching broader audiences.”

But that’s changing. Monahan met with evangelicals last year to shore up support, and she hired Bethany Goodman, an assistant director whose job includes reaching out to evangelicals and other religious groups. This year the march will feature one headliner most evangelicals can recognize: Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.

One of the challenges Goodman has faced in rallying evangelicals to the march is the lack of formal structure and organization, compared to the Catholic Church, which has offices of “pro-life ministry” both nationally and in each diocese around the country. Catholic schools will often bus youth to the march.

Goodman said she has started working with parachurch organizations such as the Family Research Council, the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and Alliance Defending Freedom.

“The Catholic Church does a fantastic job of coordinating the bus trips when there’s obviously not that structure in the Protestant realm,” Goodman said.

This year’s march will feature a mix of parties and religions. Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who is Jewish, and Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski, who is Catholic, will be among those speaking at the rally. As abortion opponents seek to capitalize on gains they have made in restricting abortion at the state level, it is natural that they would try to bring in more evangelicals at their most public event of activism.

Organizers are also exploring other strategies, including the use of technology. They hope to use the success anti-abortion activists had on Twitter during last year’s trial for abortion provider Kermit Gosnell, hoping to get #whywemarch to trend and draw in more attention — and eventually marchers for the future.

Last year, Pope Benedict XVI surprised marchers by tweeting his support, and observers are watching for whether Pope Francis will do the same.

The consensus among historians has been that Catholic doctrine provided a teaching on abortion long before evangelicals came around on the issue in the 1970s, Shields said.

But today a majority (54 percent) of white evangelical Protestants favors overturning Roe v. Wade, according to the Pew Research Center. In contrast, majorities of white mainline Protestants (76 percent), black Protestants (65 percent) and white Catholics (63 percent) prefer keeping the ruling….

“The march, where tens of thousands brave frigid weather as they make their way to the Supreme Court, will feature Dobson’s son, Ryan, too. Monahan said march leaders reached out to Ryan Dobson because he has spoken publicly about being adopted. The father and son run their own show called “Family Talk.”

Also speaking will be Radiance Foundation co-founder Ryan Scott Bomberger, who was conceived during rape and later adopted.

Many well-known Christians like musician Steven Curtis Chapman, former Indianapolis Colts football coach Tony Dungy, Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore and retired megachurch pastor John Piper are adoptive parents. Popular evangelical authors and bloggers like Jen Hatmaker, Jennie Allen and Justin Taylor have written about adopting children.

Support for orphan-related causes has been one of the top issues that have seen increased giving from evangelicals in recent years, according to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. All charitable giving in 2012 rose about 3.5 percent, according to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. In contrast, evangelical giving to adoption rose by 9.5 percent and orphan care by 17 percent, according to ECFA.

Evangelicals see abortion as a moral issue. Three-quarters of white evangelical Protestants consider having an abortion morally wrong, compared to 53 percent of white Catholics, according to Pew….

To read the entire story, click here.


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  1. Intercession: For an end to legal abortion in our nation and for the conversion of all hearts, so that the inherent rights of every human being—especially those most at risk of abuse and rejection—will be upheld.
    Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

    Reflection: Today, on this 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we consider the past four decades in which our society has legally permitted abortion and wandered far from God. Instead of accepting children in joy and hope, many hearts seem hardened against making commitments to others, fearing the demands others may make on our time or our freedom. We are becoming a culture marked by rejection, by loneliness and sorrow. In today’s Gospel, we hear how Jesus grieved over the Pharisees’ hardness of heart, as he heals the man with the withered hand. They remained silent when Jesus pointedly asked them: “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” Our laws now make it legal to destroy life by abortion, by abortifacient drugs, in destructive embryo research, in the course of in vitro fertilization procedures, and in some states by assisted suicide and the death penalty. How Jesus must grieve over this culture of death! Let us open our hearts in faith, entrusting our culture to the healing power of Christ, the One who has overcome sin and the power of evil.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Pope Francis ‏@Pontifex · 9h
    I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable

  3. John Feeney says:

    The article states that 63% of white Catholics are pro-abortion. What a sorry state of affairs. Who is responsible for this situation?

    • 1 out of 3 people who are pro life think contraception is always ok–from Michael Voris at the March yesterday. Who is responsible for this situation?–Those who can not or will not master their sexual desires and wait for marriage, AND those in marriage that can not or will not master their sexual desires and practice NFP–which is 99% effective.

      • Two generations of Catholics have not been taught the Catholic Faith. Faulty catechetical instruction (even in Catholic Schools-I taught for years in several) homilies that did not touch or teach on morals, our sick culture influenced by the media, bishops who were not aware or God Forbid were not concerned about what was really important…the list goes on and on including our own sins and failures. This is why there will be no effective evangelization unless Catholics are catechised. We must educate ourselves and then others, be able to explain our Faith, be on fire for the Lord. A regular and deepening prayer life is also a “must.” And prayers for all the clergy and seminarians should be daily. If you can learn the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and live them every day you will be changed and will be able to get to heaven and bring others with you! St. Peter Chanel is starting another series of classes in early February. The church is off the 605 freeway in Hawaiian Gardens California.

    • 1. Our Bishops (and the Priests under them) are responsible for not making certain that all teen and adult Catholics within their Diocese are properly catechized on contraception, abortion, natural family planning, etc..

      2. We are responsible when we do not spread the truth according to the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition”.

      ABORTION: CCC #2770, 2271, 2272, 2273, 2274, 2275.
      CONTRACEPTION: CCC #2399, 2370.

      If you do not own a CCC 2nd Edition, get one. If you have never heard of the CCC due to lousy catechesis in your Parish – go to:
      “What Catholics REALLY Believe SOURCE” – http://whatcatholicsreallybelieve.com/ – for more information including quotes from Popes Francis, Benedict, and Blessed John Paul II.

      There is no excuse for ignorance by literate Catholics in the USA and other western countries. We have the written materials provided by the Church and we can read.
      CCC: “1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man “takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin.” In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.”

  4. Everyone of good will must work together to stop the murder of the most vulnerable.

  5. Abeca Christian says:

    I hope the this website does and article on what Hobby lobby is going through and here is an article sent to me from a friend as well:


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