Pro-life speaking takes courage but you gotta do it anyway
No more excuses! Pro-life speakers are not born, they're organized.
Auto-generated Transcript
Hello friends, welcome to the Case for Life podcast where we equip you to defend your pro-life views persuasively. Special thanks to our primary sponsor, Life Training Institute. Be sure to visit them at prolifetraining.com. Today is a special day. I’ve got a colleague with me, a mentor, a friend, Dr. Mark Newman. He is the head of Speaker for Life. He is without question, in my view, the best pro-life speaking coach you could ever ask for. and he’s got a book out that I recommend with my book. When people ask me, what are the 2 books I should start with, I mentioned Mark’s book, Contenders, and my book, The Case for Life. But Mark’s book, Contenders, is especially aimed at church-going people to give them a strategy, a church-wide strategy, to unmask abortion, defeat its advocates, and empower Christians to change the world. highly recommended on my list of reading. Dr. Mark, great to have you. It’s good to be here. I got a question for you. Your average pro-lifer says, okay, I want to be pro-life, I want to save babies, but there is no way I’m ever going to speak on this. How do you overcome that fear of speaking in your students? I’ve had students for ages tell me things like, I could never do this, I could never do what you’re doing. And I tell everybody the same thing, which is, Unless you hide in the lectern when I start talking about public speaking, I can teach you to be a public speaker. Are you going to be a national level speaker? Maybe not, but you can certainly be a regional speaker. And it’s not terribly difficult. Most people, if they can follow a recipe, they can learn how to put a presentation together. If we can teach them basic analytical skills, how to evaluate a topic and craft it with an audience in mind, We can show them just a handful of simple strategies and then we can teach them how to craft the message that works. Yeah, I think that’s so true. I know that when I meet pro-lifers that are new to the game, so to speak their first fear is, I can never be like you. You don’t need to be like me. In fact, it’d be better if they weren’t. So I think there’s this sense of I have to be this platform speaker at the conference where I’m getting paid big bucks, which, by the way, ain’t going to happen either. We can’t help you be famous. We can help you be effective, though. What’s the number one mistake new speakers make that would be good for our audience to just know out of the gate is something to look out for. I think a lot of brand new speakers, they have this idea that because they can speak English, they can be a public speaker. and they don’t really understand the distinction between a conversation and a public presentation. So when I work with brand new speakers, we focus initially on structure. Because when you read a book, if you gloss over a paragraph or if your eyes glaze over while you’re reading, you can always stop and go back and reread the paragraph. In a public speaking environment, you get one crack at those folks. And so you really need to be heavily, highly organized when you go out to speak because the whole goal is to make sure that what you’ve had to say gets taken out of the room. I tell everybody, if you’re a persuader, People cannot do what you’ve asked them to do if they can’t remember what you said. And so structure goes a long way toward making that happen. I mean, how many times have we heard speeches where it’s a rambling monologue? We have no idea where the presenter is going. And you have a concept that I think is very helpful. Speakers are hunters. Unpack that for us. Whenever you’re going to go out to speak, you don’t just go there to hear yourself talk. You go there to accomplish a goal. To get some Absolutely. So I know Scott, you, you speak at banquets as do I, and sometimes people will come up to you after the banquet and say, oh my gosh, you’re just the best speaker I’ve ever heard, Scott Klusendorf. And if you’re like me, I look at them and I say, we’ll find out tomorrow. Because you’re only going to know whether or not you were effective if you get what you intended to get. Sometimes it’s harder because what you’re seeking to get is attitude change. And of course, unlike real change, which you can actually see in the plate, attitude change sometimes takes a little longer to figure out what’s happened. But I know for a fact that, for example, at Summit, you’ve Made presentations and had students walk up to you and say, right, I’ve changed my mind. Changed my mind. mind so but the goal here is when you go to speak you’re not you’re not just going there to talk You’re going there to generally do one of 2 things. You’re either trying to alter people’s perceptions and their way of thinking. Or alter their pocketbook. Well, or alter the way they act, right? How they think or how they act. Support ministries. Yeah, exactly. Now, this leads to something that I think I struggled with initially that you really helped me with. Knowing how to give goodwill statements to hostile audiences that kind of take the edge off things. What do you mean by a goodwill statement? Whenever you get deep into your, it’s fairly deep into your introduction, so you always open up every presentation you have with an attention-getting device. You generally reveal the topic. And then you provide significance. You have to answer the so what question. And then you have to have a goodwill statement, especially when we’re talking about abortion. You have to always assume that your audience is looking at you thinking you’re one of those people. And you’ve got to demonstrate to them that you actually have their best interest at heart. What would you say? Say you were at a class at Cal State San Marcos and the professor brings you in to talk to students and he’s told you ahead of time almost no one in this class agrees with you How would you frame that goodwill statement? What would be an example of what that would look like? Well, I would probably ask them, since we’re in an academic environment, I would ask them to extend to me the same courtesy that they would extend to anybody as they’re opening up a book for the Virgin line. In other words, they don’t really know me, but they may have a lot of assumptions about me. And I will sometimes say, Just look at me. What kinds of things come to mind? Well, you’re male. and men shouldn’t be talking about this issue you are white you are heteronormative cisgendered right i can check off all the lists and so as a result people might think i don’t have a right to speak on this issue. You have no standing. Exactly. And so I will simply tell them, I just want you to to give to me, extend to me the same courtesy that I would extend to you and not have a lot of assumptions. i’m not here to try to rain on your parade i’m trying to help you to number one recognize what is true and then act out of it i’ve told all of my students my whole life that the goal of an academic life is to discover what is true and then follow it. Follow it. Yeah, the Socratic quest for truth. Yes. Now, is it okay at the end of a persuasive presentation to a hostile audience to challenge them with, hey, you have a decision to make here. Either you’re going to just shut off what you’ve heard or you’re going to be courageous enough to follow the evidence where it leads. And if my arguments were good, you have an obligation to change your mind. Is that going too far? No, not at all. As a matter of fact, I remember specifically at Cal State San Marcos, of all places, I got into a conversation with a student at a genocide awareness project event. And when I was done and laid out all the evidence that you can find in Scott’s book, I’m reading the stuff from Moore, Persaud, and Georgia. I’m showing them all this Planned Parenthood evidence. And when I was done, the guy looked at me and he said, I just want to thank you for sharing your perspective. And he started walking away and I went, stop. Yeah. Come back. I need to make it clear to you. I’m not here to share with you my perspective. I just laid out a series of propositions. I established those propositions by the use of very solid evidence. So the question is, do you have better evidence than the evidence I provided you. And if you don’t, now you’re free to go home and try. But if you don’t or you can’t, then you have 2 choices. You can either Walk through the rest of your life in cognitive dissonance, where you’re actively suppressing things that you know to be true in order to hold on to a way of thinking that may just be ingrained in you from longstanding. Or, and this is the better thing, in any academic circle, follow the truth. Find out what’s true. And I’ll tell you, and I’m honest, if you find out, I mean, Scott, If somebody could prove to you tomorrow without a single doubt that the unborn were not human beings, I wouldn’t even need it to be beyond all doubt. I just need it to be beyond reasonable doubt. If they can make a better case for the inhumanity of the unborn than I can make for the humanity of the unborn, then hey, I need to change my mind. We could go out and become motivational speakers. We could get a lot richer than we are today. I know there are some who think you and I are just profiting madly over this. We’ve chosen the wrong profession. We can have that discussion at a later date. But no, seriously, I mean, it’s kind of like when Paul is talking about whether or not Jesus rose from the dead. Yeah. Right. Now, there is a subset of Christians, if you show them the body of Jesus, they would still say, I’m still going to be a Christian. But Paul wouldn’t. Right. I tell people, hey, if you can prove to me that the unborn aren’t human beings, please do. I’ll change my mind. I’ve got a lot of other things. I mean, I’m vigorous. Like you, I’m vigorously pro-choice on women choosing their own husbands, their own worldview, the clothes they want to drive, the cars they wish to drive unless they’re predecessors. I’m pro-choice on all kinds of things. The schools they send their kids to? Well, yeah, but a society that It allows us to intentionally kill innocent human beings. It’s not a society we should choose to be rubber stamping. So the issue is not who loves women, who hates women. It’s not who’s intolerant, who’s tolerant, who’s forcing morals, who isn’t. The issue is, what is the unborn? And if someone can show either of us that the unborn aren’t human, we’ll change our mind because we are committed to the Socratic quest for truth. And like I said, there’s lots of other things I could write and talk about that are much more pleasant to write and talk about than the murder of children in the womb. Now, as a speech and debate professor, your teams have won awards nationally. How has the ability of your average university and college student changed in the last 25 years in terms of critical thinking? The college and university system is not what it once was. When you start looking back at even books that were published by college professors, even A few decades ago, like Alan Bloom’s book, The Closing of the American Mind, for example. I don’t know if you could find books like that that would come out and be popular today. My experience, especially within the humanities, has been that there is a titanic shift toward a more socialist mindset, a more left leaning mindset. I remember years ago when I was teaching at a community college in California, And one of the guys there was actually probably the most famous English professor there on the campus. And he had been in print debating Mario Cuomo on the abortion issue. He was a fully tenured professor, and his department chair invited him out to lunch and asked him if he would resign. And they made his life so intolerable that it was like, you know, we’re going to move your office into this coat closet. And so eventually intriguingly in our department, there were a lot of believers and a lot of conservative, you know, politically people in my department. And we invited him and we housed him for the remainder of his career. But that’ll give you an idea. A fully tenured professor. being essentially asked to leave and being made uncomfortable so that he might step aside. If you pay attention at all to the news, you know that this is not a an isolated incident. Right. These kinds of things happen all over the place. The inmates are running the asylum. What I’m finding and I think it’s not just me. I am finding that before I can even get into a pro-life case, I have to coach a lot of students on what an argument is. And what are the basic rules of logic? Arguments, for example, stand or fall on their merits, not the person making them. You could be the worst person in the world, but if you’re making a valid argument and a sound argument, it stands apart from you. That’s no excuse for us to be jerks. But the point is, I am finding, even on this podcast, some of the comment threads, it’s interesting to watch. Almost nobody engages the argument. I’ve had 2 commenters who have actually done good work engaging me on the philosophical anthropology involved. They’ve engaged me on the argument itself. Most of them are, you’re a white dude, get out of here. You hate women. You’re a man. You’re a man. Of course, how do they know that? How dare they judge my pronouns? But that aside, it’s not even that they attack the pro-life position per se, they don’t even know how to argue. It’s mudslinging. That’s all it’s become. And that’s distressing because that makes our job a lot harder. Now, I know that there are pregnancy center directors and staffers who watch this podcast. And what would you say to some of them about the need to think about their ministries as a cultural reform tool. Meaning, don’t just go to schools and talk about abstinence. What about helping them go into schools to do pro-life apologetics talks. Well, I’ll tell you, before they go into schools, we need to find a way to get them into churches. Yeah. Because one of the aspects of a book I’m working on right now called Pivot, we’re going to be talking about how center directors have got to be the tip of the spear. And the reason for that is You know, we complain a lot of times that pastors don’t talk about it enough. I talk about the abortion issue enough from the pulpit. And I kind of had an epiphany a couple of months ago, and I thought, well how would they know to do it yeah you and i have been trying for literally probably over a decade to get into christian universities offering them on a silver platter right college and graduate level courses to help inoculate their kids against abortion ideology, but also prepare them to be leaders in this area. And courses that are academically rigorous. These are not watered down propaganda pieces. These are, you’re reading the best the other side has. Absolutely. It’s a true academic course. We had a very hard time getting in. So as you think about that, you’ve got pastors, where would they have learned this stuff? They didn’t learn it at their Christian college. Not at seminary. They didn’t learn it at the seminary. They didn’t learn it at their own church. And now suddenly we’re telling them, we need you to be a vibrant advocate for the lives of the unborn. But the people who work in this field day in and day out at our pregnancy health organizations, I want to be able to convince them Every one of them ought to have one staff member whose only job is to go into schools and churches and civic groups where they can bring this message. They need to be trained. You can’t just send anybody in. But I think this is another way where we can help pastors by taking maybe a little bit of the load off of them. and in pastor’s defense they are the most put upon human beings oh yeah right every 5 oh one c 3 wants a spot a space in their pulpit so we have to actually be able to prove to them This is different. Abortion is different. And our friend John Ensor has done a lot of work on the concept of guilt, for example. And we need to get that across. But yeah, I think that the center movement is probably going to be the tip of the spear going into the post-Dobbs era. Well, it not only involves people who day in and day out are dealing with the issue, it involves people that are meeting the needs of the very women we’re accused of not caring about. and that that’s a credibility check mark in our favor because we actually do care pro-lifers have pregnancy centers that outnumber abortion clinics by a very large number. And every center I’ve ever spoken at and I’ve been at many, almost as many as you, not quite, but every one of them cares for that child before birth, and at least for a couple of years afterward is providing services to that mother to help her with that child. So this idea that pro-lifers don’t care is simply a myth. And it’s sad when I see people on our side of the issue assume that premise that the other side is thrown on them. I mean, I want to say to people, how does it follow that because we as pro-lifers oppose the intentional killing of an innocent human being, We have to fix everything wrong with society. And of course, logically, it doesn’t follow we do. But In practice, we are doing a lot to help both the baby and the mother and her family post birth. So it’s a big lie. You and I have been out trying to expose this lie. Everybody, this is the book. It’s ContendersSpeakerForLife.com, right? That’s correct. SpeakerForLife.com. Get a copy of this. You can get it at Amazon or you can write Mark at his website. Contenders, it’s a strategy to help you within the context of your church make a difference in your community for the issue of life. Dr. Newman, thanks for joining us. Glad to have you. So glad you could be with us.