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Monday, July 30, 2012

Bringing the secular perspective to the next generation of pro-life leaders

Last week, Students for Life of America welcomed its third class of Wilberforce Fellows.  The year-long fellowship trains promising pro-life college, law, and medical students in leadership skills.  The goal, of course, is to ensure that the next generation of pro-life leadership is up to the task.

But there is also another goal: the promotion of pro-life unity.  As part of the first class of Wilberforce Fellows myself, I recall that day one involved receiving a powerful history lesson.  We learned how the pro-life movement suffered serious setbacks in the 1980's, largely due to a tactical disagreement-- should we focus on legislation, a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution, or both-- which got personal and created massively counter-productive division.  The Wilberforce Fellowship is meant to be a uniting force; if most of the leaders of pro-life groups ten years from now have gone through the program, we will have the skills necessary to get along (and understand the importance of doing so).

For many years, pro-life groups have relied on religion as a means of maintaining unity.  That won't last long, since the current generation of college students is both the most pro-life and least religious since Roe v. Wade.  Students for Life of America has wisely gotten ahead of this issue by teaching its Fellows about the similarities and differences between the religious and secular pro-life positions.  To do so, it recruited Christian pro-life apologetics expert Scott Klusendorf, and Secular Pro-Life's own Phil E.  Phil, an atheist and a member of the SPL leadership board, has been active in SPL from its inception.

Says Phil:
The discussion with Klusendorf went well, and he wants to do something like that again.  We discussed the basis for morality and whether a grounding in deism or atheism was stronger.  It was more of a discussion than a debate, and things didn't get heated or contentious.  Most of the students seemed very receptive to what I had to say.
Some of the Fellows had broader questions for Phil about atheism in general (e.g., in Phil's words, "the idea of not being completely depressed about a finite existence.").  Again, these were not contentious questions, but questions that reflected a genuine concern for understanding the non-religious point of view.  These Fellows realize how vital cooperation between religious and non-religious activists will be for securing the right to life.  I am confident that they will be excellent pro-life leaders.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Obviously the secret is to disguise religious dogma as "secular" ideology. Dumb kids can't tell the difference. Just keep telling them that it's secular and they'll start believing it.

Ed Jonus said...

Again, the above troll does not even address the post and keeps insisting there are no secular/atheist pro-lifers. Sorry bud, there is a major transition occurring and the upcoming generation will make giant strides in the pro-life movement. You can use all your energy to fight it, but its happening.

Anonymous said...

There's a major transition occuring and the upcoming generation of Catholics, Protestants and other religiously indocrinated children will be lobbying legislators for the stuff that their parents raised them to believe.

Lover of Life said...

I'd love to have Klussendorf and Phil to my university! I think that would be a very meaningful experience for a lot of students there.

Bill Samuel said...

The divide between religious-centered and secular in the pro-life movement is almost trivial compared to the difference between the right wing faction controlling most of the "mainstream" pro-life groups like AUL, NRTL, SBA List, SFLA, March for Life, etc. which is staunchly against helping the needy born and those who see being pro-life in a broader context, and generally follow a Republican line. The right wing faction has militantly attacked the rest of the pro-life movement, denying that we are pro-life and doing such things as spending enormous resources to defeat pro-life Congressional candidates who won't toe the right wing line.

Anonymous said...

Bill, there's no such thing as a "liberal republican" just as there is no such thing as a "secular pro-lifer" perhaps, in the days prior to the radical polarization of American political parties, what you say is true. "Secular pro-lifers" are too much of a political minority to differ in any way from being able to accomplish anything besides what is dictated by the fundamentalist christian right. The mental gymnastics required to justify the viewpoint of the pro-life perspective are so convoluted that this site is little more than a token example that religiously motivated pro-lifers can point to for the purposes of weaseling out of accusations that the pro-life movement is fundamentally a christian fundamentalist authoritarian movement.

Stacey Lisle said...

Bill, I've found the opposite to be true. Being a secular pro-lifer, I've been welcomed and embraced by religious pro-lifers. The idea that we are all in this together to help pre-born children dominates despite the differences we have about religious beliefs.

The fact that this site gets the pro-abortionists all riled up is a sign that things are moving in the right direction. If this site and the secular pro-life movement was not making any difference, the pro-abortionists would troll elsewhere.

Keep on moving forward SPL!

LN said...

Exactly :)

Anonymous said...

Who are these pro-abortionists you're talking about? Nobody says "HEY HEY HO HO WE NEED TO HAVE MORE ABORTIONS! PRO ABORTIONS! YOU THERE! YOU NEED AN ABORTION! CHOOSE ABORTION!"

You're beating a strawman.

Lynne Zeim said...

You are either pro-life or pro-abortion. Pro-choice is just a nice term invented to disguise the horrors of abortion, and you know it. Keep blaring your pro-kill fog horn. Your conscience must be churning for you to be trolling pro-life blogs so much.

Dan Sones said...

Agreed Lynne. "Anonymous" is not fooling anyone. Not even himself/herself any longer.