Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pro-Life Freedom Rides

The Pro-Life Freedom Rides began yesterday in Birmingham. The event was inspired by the non-violent protests led by Martin Luther King, Jr. to secure the rights of black Americans to use desegregated public transportation. Priests for Life, which is sponsoring the event, describes its goals:
It is therefore time for Freedom Rides for the unborn. The pro-life movement is more ready than ever to proclaim freedom…

Freedom from the lies and the deceit that allow abortion to continue…
Freedom from the fear of speaking up and taking action for the unborn…
Freedom from the shame and guilt of past involvement in abortion, so that those called to speak up and share their testimonies may do so as people who are "Silent No More"…
Freedom from the political oppression that tramples on human rights and denies equality before the law…
Freedom from violence and death itself.
These are basically secular goals that any pro-lifer can support. Of course, Priests for Life's sponsorship will give it a religious flavor. But perhaps that's appropriate, since the original freedom rides were also organized by a religious group: the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

So far, everything has gone smoothly. If there is going to be any trouble, it will be today at 4pm, when the campaign will have a service at MLK Jr.'s tomb in Atlanta. Local pro-abortion activists first tried to restrict pro-lifers' right of assembly by banning them from the King Center, but failed. Now, they are planning a counter-protest.

Pro-abortion abuse would actually not be that big a deal. Most pro-life organizations have come to expect it and take the appropriate precautions. The big difference is that this event is getting a good bit of media coverage. To be completely honest, part of me hopes that the cameras capture some of the pro-abortion nuts; the anger of the opposition did a lot to turn public opinion in King's favor:
When they traveled into Alabama, the Freedom Riders were attacked and badly beaten, and CORE called the ride off. Other Civil Rights activists—many of them young members of the Student NonViolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)—rushed to Alabama to continue the ride. They ran into trouble in Montgomery, Alabama, and the federal government had to send in U.S. marshals to protect the riders. The Freedom Rides continued into Mississippi, where they met with more resistance. By late August, 1961, more than 400 Freedom Riders had been arrested by the state of Mississippi. Images like this one of the burned bus helped create sympathy for the non-violent Freedom Riders and their cause. This event drew national attention, especially from middle-class northerners who were shocked by the brutal violence they saw on television.
But my first concern is for the safety of our pro-life allies in Atlanta. There is safety in numbers, so if you are in the Atlanta area, I encourage you to attend. If you are uncomfortable with a religious service, I recommend standing peacefully outside the King Center with a sign that says "This atheist supports unborn rights" or words to that effect.

If you aren't in Atlanta, you can follow the freedom rides on Twitter.

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