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A post in which I'm not very nice at all...

While I was driving around Fargo the past weekend, I saw all these signs in yards about "40 Days for Life".

I'm not normally one to go all PZ Myers, but there are always exceptions.

The premise of this campaign is that people will "fast and pray to end abortion".

This is a complete and utter waste. This is nothing more than a PR campaign which is designed to:

1) try to get the Women's Clinic in Fargo shut down by

2) making anyone uncomfortable about using the Women's Clinic services, regardless of what they are there for.

3) This will also make people who may have a sincere desire to see abortion go away feel good about doing something...without actually doing anything.

4) This, in turn, gives those well-intended people the moral high-ground so that they can call all the rest of us "murderers", even if in our complicity, for allowing it to happen while they are out there "doing something". (Nice and vague, don't you think?)

Seriously, what good is fasting and praying going to do? Are those people going to bring all that food they didn't eat to the potential moms who don't feel like they can afford to keep a child? Is it going to do anything to help the women who don't feel ready for parenthood? Is it going to help the women who are in a difficult relationship and don't feel like they should have a child under such circumstances? Is it going to educate young adults about pregnancy and birth control?

Not so much.

It's in no way even a small step toward a real solution. This is the sort of self-righteous stuff from the pro-life groups that makes me really want to hurl. Seriously, this makes people feel all great, like they're doing something wonderful...but they're doing absolutely nothing of practical value that will in actuality reduce the problem. I'm sorry, but God isn't going to make the problem go away. People have to do that, and I'm sure that if there is a God out there, he/she would be pretty resentful of us trying to duck our responsibilities by pushing them onto him/her.

It's a scam. It's snake oil. It deprives people who may have a sincere and earnest desire to do some good of the opportunity to put do something which could truly be useful.

I think I'll go pray and fast that these sorts of campaigns come to an end. I'm sure it'll do a lot of good.

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( 13 Transmissions — Comment )
Oct. 15th, 2008 02:33 am (UTC)

Just by seeing signs, I wouldn't expect you to know what it is or what it stands for. It's a prayer campaign. For those who believe in prayer, yes, we believe that prayer does make a difference. A huge difference. Nothing is impossible with God, and prayer is our way of communicating with God. The fasting comes in to strengthen our prayer, for no other reason. It's a group prayer organized among many cities across the nation, not a PR stunt, not a scam. There's not even any money involved.

I get the daily emails. I have gone to a prayer vigil. I have heard and read first-hand accounts of this campaign making a difference. It has nothing to do with calling anyone a murderer; I haven't seen any such judgments or accusations at all. These people are there to help, and they are making a difference person-by-person. For example, they re-direct people to centers that help some poor pregnant women, they offer connections to those who can help pregnant women may need, and they provide information to those who want it. Some people even offer their homes to pregnant women who have been kicked out of their parent's homes.

Every little bit makes a difference. These small groups can make a small difference to a small number of people who want help, and they also can help raise awareness. Many people aren't even aware of the abortions going on in their cities. Yes, this may mean making people feel uncomfortable. That's not always a bad thing. It's our conscious that makes us feel uncomfortable, is it not? For those who feel that abortion isn't wrong, they shouldn't find this anymore than silly and slightly annoying.

No, it doesn't make us feel great. Me, personally, it makes me feel sickened and disheartened. But this isn't a feel-good campaign, it's to raise awareness about a serious social issue and pray for guidance and hope.

Really, you should try to do some background research before jumping to conclusions. You're really misjudged this campaign 100%.
Oct. 15th, 2008 02:46 am (UTC)
I read the web page. I looked up what it was about. And they are very much about polarizing the debate, for instance, because they keep referring to "the abortion industry". They also have a goal of getting the first "abortion free" state...in other words, targeting states that have one abortion clinic (like North Dakota) and putting pressure on them to shut down, thus depriving women of the availability of those services.

Money has to be involved. They print up signs, they have a website, they've got resources. If those resources were put into trying to prevent some of the things that cause women to get abortions, then maybe I could agree with you. But printing signs won't stop abortion. My point is that there are productive things that could be done with those resources, but they're turning it into a PR campaign with the hope of closing down the clinic.

I will say that at least they're better about it than the Lambs of Christ.
Oct. 15th, 2008 02:53 am (UTC)
You have a point about the printed signs and the website. I'm not sure how they're funded, probably through private donations. But they don't solicit. I have not once in all the communications (verbal and written) been asked to donate, which is actually quite rare, usually groups want money. All this group wants is prayers.

I hadn't heard of Lambs of Christ before. Yikes. Yeah, 40 Days for Life isn't a terrorist or hate group. At it's core, it's about love, hope, and service. I wouldn't be involved with any hate groups.
Oct. 15th, 2008 03:00 am (UTC)
Keep in mind that I'm attempting to state the following analytically, so it's not intended to sound harsh. There are other groups about which I could say this:

You know, it's funny because the lack of request for money is part of the reason I get suspicious about things like this. Looking at this strictly from an outside perspective, it seems that their efforts entail getting people involved and then providing them with what I would term "loaded" information.

In all honesty, it seems to me that this is a political movement by creating "awareness" and encouraging it's members to do "something" without providing a specific outlet with tangible results. And the fact that they do it right before elections doesn't help. :-/
Oct. 15th, 2008 02:37 am (UTC)
Take some action, come help me volunteer to make a lunch sometime for the nice folks at the Minneapolis Crisis Nursery, http://www.crisisnursery.org/ True its not doing anything to help educate people about how sex makes babies and to use some birth control so they don't need to have an abortion in the first place, but it does help to help some of the people who really need it, at risk children and low-income parents.
Oct. 15th, 2008 02:50 am (UTC)
Actually, I think it's having resources like these, so that people know that they have help if in a pickle, that are exactly the type of solutions that we need. Things like this, Rainbow Bridge (which is a place for supervised visitation and child drop off/pick up between separated parents) are small things that can really make parenting seem more doable despite adverse circumstances.

And when I dig myself out of my hole, I will do that with you. What sort of help do you need?
Oct. 15th, 2008 02:58 am (UTC)
Probably at least two other people so we're not footing the food bill alone. We pick a date, and have to get enough to feed the staff and however many kids they have at that time. Plus, they always need help, so its not like we have to run out this weekend and do it. If we can't get our schedules together until over the winter break that's cool 'eh!
Oct. 15th, 2008 04:03 am (UTC)
"I'm sorry, but God isn't going to make the problem go away."

Well, we'll have to disagree on that, because I believe that God has the power to do anything. If He didn't, He wouldn't be "God." :o) I think it would be kind of hard to show that God isn't doing anything about it, already. Every time a woman chooses adoption, that could be God at work in someone's heart and two people's lives (four, if you count the new parents.)

But, not all pro-life movements are like this. LifeCare Pregnancy Centers, Majella Society, NRL, and a lot of others I've seen aren't.
Oct. 15th, 2008 04:37 am (UTC)
Perhaps I should clarify this: I view the solution to problems as a bit of a corollary to Pascal's Wager. A person's action could create a solution. If there is a God and he/she agrees with the motive and/or result of this action, then God will facilitate the action. If there isn't a God, you should still perform the action because then, obviously, it will be solved no other way. Thus, it only makes sense to attempt to solve our own problems as if there is no God because if there isn't, they won't go away any other way, and if there is, there will be help in implementing the solution.

And, to be perfectly honest, it has to do with the notion of free will: I really think that God gives us the choice to solve our own problems or not. I don't think a problem will be solved unless someone makes an effort to take care of it. God works, for the most part, through people. Why would God put in all the effort to do something of which we are capable? Why would God do all the work while we sit back and just let things happen? It seems like the ultimate justification for irresponsibility. "If I pray, God will take care of my problems." Well, no....but if you attempt to take care of them yourself, God will find ways to help you. Why would God help someone who won't make a commitment to help themselves?

I think prayer is helpful in terms of helping one find clarity in the path forward or determining right action. But, ultimately, I think we have a responsibility to take on that right action without the expectation in divine intervention.

The Quakers have a saying which, in my experience, is completely true, "The way will open." If something really is supposed to happen, if God wants it that way, then the barriers which may prevent you from making it happen will fall away when the time is right. But unless we make a commitment ourselves, we may never see how to find our ways around those barriers. (And there is my little nugget of faith...because I've seen it happen in my own life.)
Oct. 16th, 2008 12:13 am (UTC)
Well, I agree wholeheartedly that God works through people. It's because of the actions of many committed Quakers and Christians like William Wilberforce working together that slavery has become anathema in western countries. :o)

But, I don't think it's safe to assume that people who are praying aren't doing anything else to ameliorate the situation. They may or may not be. Sometimes, you pray when you've done everything you know to do, and want to do more, but don't see any open doors. So, I think it's okay to pray and ask God to open the doors.

Why doesn't God just open the doors anyway? Well, obviously, sometimes He does, but I think that He does want to hear from us because He loves us and wants a relationship with us. Martin Luther said that prayer is mainly for our benefit, not God's. It's a way of getting closer to Him, so our thoughts and hearts can be aligned with His. Personally, I've recevied many valuable revelations and open doors as a result of prayer; some of them pretty amazing, so I do believe that God responds to our earnest prayers.
Oct. 16th, 2008 12:28 am (UTC)
I just wrote a post discussing this (before seeing your comment, or I probably would have responded here). Hopefully that will clarify that I don't think prayer is useless...but that it's not necessarily useful as some people think it may be. (Which, again, is my opinion...) :-)
Oct. 15th, 2008 04:53 pm (UTC)
I found this post so thought-provoking I wrote a post about it and thought you might find mine interesting.


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts--they are well taken!

Oct. 16th, 2008 12:30 am (UTC)
Thanks for the kind words. I really do appreciate that you understood the message, even if I did a pretty miserable job of saying it.

( 13 Transmissions — Comment )

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