Pro-lifers are losing
It’s time to get over the hype. Pro-lifers are not winning, we are losing and we will continue to lose unless we face some hard truths.
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 Welcome friends to the case for life podcast, where we help you defend your pro life views more effectively in the public square. Be sure to visit us on social media and let us know, give us feedback on the show, what’s helping and how we can do better at equipping you. That’s what we aim to do here.

Well, I’ve got good news and bad news today. The good news is really good and the bad news is really bad. So how’s that for an opening? So let’s start on a positive note. The good news is that the second edition of my book, The Case for Life, is now out. And this book, uh, is something that nearly killed me doing it.

Uh, might sound strange saying that as a pro life advocate, but this was a job. This was a chore. And it was far worse than anything my mother ever gave me growing up. But I want you to see the difference between the first version of the case for life and now the second edition that came out today. It is now released as of today and you can see there’s a substantial difference in the The amount of material that’s been added.

And no, it’s not larger type and thicker paper. Same stuff, just a lot more detail in here. And it’s not that the old edition was bad, but this one really equips you to navigate a post Roe v. Wade world. Uh, where now we are seeing pro life views being attacked. and voted out in every state where they’re put to the public.

How do we navigate a culture that quite frankly loved Roe v. Wade, loves abortion, and let’s just be honest about it, that’s where it is. How do we engage the worldview structures that make abortion so plausible to so many of our fellow citizens? Well, this book is designed to help you do that, to engage that culture, give persuasive arguments that can Compete in the marketplace of ideas.

Compete in academia. So what’s new in this? Uh, well, here’s what’s new in it. The first thing that’s new in it is there’s a whole section on understanding the underlying worldviews that inform the abortion debate. A lot of times what happens is, and we talked about this on a previous episode, but you get into conversations with people And you’re thinking, what planet did they just step off of?

Because their starting point is so radically different from my own, I don’t even know where to begin. Well, chances are there’s a worldview talking to you there. You need to know what that worldview is and have some ideas about how you might engage it. So, there’s a whole section in the book on that. In particular, we look at naturalism, the worldview that says the universe came from nothing and was caused by nothing.

Therefore, nothing, including human beings, has intrinsic purposes. We are rather just the product of a blind watchmaker. The whole Richard Dawkins thesis. We also deal with postmodernism. The idea that everything is socially constructed through language. It’s not objective truth that matters. It’s constructed truth that matters.

Well, imagine talking to somebody on abortion and they’re saying to you, Well, if the mother feels it’s… a human with a right to life than it is and you’re scratching your head going what a dumb argument. Well, it isn’t dumb if you embrace a postmodern worldview that says there’s no objective meaning in the universe and even if there was we’d never be able to get to it because we’re trapped behind our own sense perceptions.

If you don’t understand where that person’s coming from, well, you’re going to talk right past them. So in the book we give you pointers for dealing with that postmodern worldview. We also deal with the woke worldview, or what some would call critical theory. This is the new kid on the block, and it’s very dominant right now.

And if you don’t understand woke theory’s view of knowledge, You’re going to be in a world of trouble. See, as a biblical Christian, you think knowledge is objectively grounded, that reason and logic matter, and they do, uh, but the woke worldview says no, there’s no such thing as objective truth or knowledge.

In fact, even logic itself is viewed as oppressive. Why? Because on the woke worldview, Logic and reason are merely tools of oppression for hurting the oppressed people. So therefore, if you’re coming in with logic, I don’t have to refute you on the woke worldview, I just need to shut you down because you’re an oppressor.

Well, pro lifers need to be aware of that new reality that’s out there, that worldview that’s informing the abortion debate. Um, finally we deal with theism and why it does the best job explaining human value and human rights. Uh, another section in the book that I’m very, uh, proud of in the sense that I think I did some good work digging into this.

We survey the major players right now who are in the debate at the academic level. We don’t take a deep dive. We’re not going to spend a whole book. letting you understand Peter Singer. That would be way too much. And besides other people like Francis Beckwith, Robert George, Pat Lee, and others, Christopher Kayser, have written excellent books dissecting their way of thinking.

And guys like Singer and Thule, how we respond to them. We don’t need to do that here, but it was important in my mind to make sure my readers had at least a survey knowledge of these thinkers. What are the broad contours of their arguments? What are the things they’re trying to, uh, get into the mainstream culture through academia?

We need to know what those are. So I do a survey of Michael Tooley, Jubilini Minerva, who wrote the piece on afterbirth abortion that caused a stir about five, six years ago. We deal with Peter Singer. We deal with David Boonen and the new kid on the block, Kate Griesley over in England at Oxford, a very winsome.

Uh, engaging thinker. Wrong ultimately, but she’s a force to be reckoned with. And I think in the Case for Life Second Edition, we’ve got a whole section on her. And I think I’m the first evangelical author to engage her arguments. I could be wrong, but I think I’m the first, but we’re gonna have to be aware of people like her because Pro-life apologists for years have been the only kids on the block.

The other side is relied on media. and basically power structures to get their arguments out there. Well, they’re starting to get some mainstream and engaging apologists of their own, and we need to know how to engage them, and people like Kate Griesley certainly feed, fit into that category. So the book deals with that.

There’s also a very practical element to the book, which I didn’t have the ability to explore in detail in the first edition, but this time I did, and that is What does a pro life church look like? And specifically, what does a pro life Christian look like? What are the things we’re supposed to be doing?

Well, I give you what that looks like. And then I go a step further. How do you actually prepare material for a pro life talk? Listen to me. Some of you might get angry at me, but I don’t care. Here goes. All of us have to become pro life Apologists and presenders, presenters now, if you’re not convinced of that, when I get to the bad news in a minute, you will be because our culture is at a point right now where pro life views are largely held to be not only irrational and religiously motivated.

but dangerous to culture. You’ve got to be able to defend what you believe and do it quickly and concisely like we’ve taught you to do here before. We’ve talked in the past about that one minute defense of abortion, how you do that. Let’s say, for example, you had only one minute to make your case. A reporter shoves a mic in your face and says, why are you pro life?

Well, here’s your answer. I am pro life because it’s wrong to intentionally kill innocent human beings. Uh, abortion does that, therefore it’s wrong. And that argument is backed up by science, which shows the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. And it’s backed up by philosophy, where we can illustrate that there’s no essential difference between you, the embryo, And you, the adult that would justify killing you back then.

Think of the SLED acronym we use. Differences of size, level of development, environment, degree of dependency aren’t good reasons for saying we could kill you then but not now. Every Christian needs to know how to make that argument and do it persuasively. And I tell you how in the book. We also give you a way to reach your community.

Here’s something a lot of people don’t think about. They never sit down and think, are any of the reasons I would give for not speaking publicly on abortion worth the price of children’s lives that would have been saved had I been courageous enough to open my mouth? I, I’m going to take that question right to the reader in the book and give you a plan for reaching up to 500 students in your community.

And I don’t care if you live in, in LA, Boston, or some town in the middle of Iowa where you’re hundreds of miles away from an airport and a major conference center. None of this is about making you a platformed, famous speaker. It’s about making you an effective one for reaching your community. and the students who aren’t hearing about abortion in your backyard.

So there’s a plan there for reaching up to 500 students, and I give you a step by step plan how to do that, including how to approach schools, what you need to say when you approach them, what you say in the presentation. It’s all here in the new edition of the book and that’s why it’s so big and fat compared to the skinnier first version.

There’s a lot more at stake there. So anyway, that’s the good news. The book is out. You can get it at Crossway or you can get it at Amazon or wherever you buy your books from. It’s there now. It’s the release date is today. Now for the bad news, and this is the part I wished sincerely I never had to talk about, but A week ago Tuesday, there was a referendum in Ohio that was absolutely a devastating defeat for the pro life view.

In that referendum, the citizens of Ohio were asked point blank, do you want to write abortion rights through all nine months of pregnancy, really? into the state constitution and a whopping majority said yes. It wasn’t even close, the vote was something like 57 percent yes to 43 percent no and this was very bad news for pro lifers because since Dobbs In other words, since the Supreme Court decision that reversed Roe v.

Wade, the Dobbs decision, pro lifers are now 0 for 7, meaning every time the public has been asked to vote directly on abortion, we’ve lost. And my contention is, we would lose in all 50 states. If the issue were put to the public right now today, as of this minute. Now that may shock some of you. You may think, wait a minute.

I live in a deep red state. No way we would approve abortion. Can I remind you that Ohio was a deep red state? It has not gone Democrat in a long time. In the national election, it generally puts forth Republican senators. The State House is controlled by Republicans. It has a Republican governor. And that state still voted overwhelmingly to write abortion rights, unrestricted abortion rights, into its state constitution.

Now, if you think Ohio is just an outliner, that it’s not really What’s going on nationally? May I remind you that Kentucky, a red state for the most part, um, Kansas, Montana, to name just a few, have all voted pro abortion since the Dobbs decision when a vote was put to its, to the members of its citizenry.

Do you want to write abortion into your state constitution or do you want to remove abortion from the state constitution? Either way the vote was, was formatted. we’ve lost. In fact, in Montana, another red state, we couldn’t even get voters to protect babies who survive abortion procedures. In other words, they’re born alive.

And this, this measure simply said, we won’t, we will protect those children who survive. an abortion procedure. The voters in that red state said, no, we’re not going to protect them because they were convinced it would somehow infringe on their sacred right to an abortion. We have a real problem, men and women, if you think that just because we live in red states we’re safe.

No, you’re not. In fact, I will say it again, in every state in the country, if you put vote up or down on abortion, pro lifers will lose. The public will vote for it and that’s, I don’t care how red your state is, that’s where the culture is and that leads to the first lesson I want to talk about as regards the Ohio referendum that happened, issue one, a week ago.

Our problem is not Pro lifers need to get over this foolish, convoluted notion that the problem is that we’re just not liked. That somehow if we could present ourselves as just being these winsome people, who are, you know, just so likable, the public would suddenly become pro life. This is nonsense. Now look, you know me.

I’m not one who says we should be unduly offensive. I, I don’t do that in my own work, and we don’t train others at LTI to be unduly offensive. But if you think we’re going to win on likability, forget it. The reason we are losing has nothing to do, ultimately, with marketing. It has to do with a worldview problem we face.

Right now, here’s the question in front of the American public. Does each and every human being have an equal right to life? Or do they not? That’s the issue. And a majority of our citizens answer they do not. And they are convinced at the worldview level that our position is wrong. And until pro lifers start engaging this on the worldview level, we’re going to continue to rack up losses.

And by the way, there’s at least another 11 states coming up in 2024 2025 that are going to put similar votes to the voters The same way that Ohio did and we’re going to lose those if we don’t make some changes and the first change we need to make is to recognize the real issue here is a worldview one.

The culture does not agree with pro lifers that it’s wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being through abortion. And as long as they see unborn humans as blobs of tissue and think abortion isn’t an act of violence that intentionally kills an innocent human being, we’re going to continue to lose.

And that leads to my second lesson we need to learn from Ohio, and that is this. Let’s quit covering up the reality of abortion. Uh, I will tell you that pro life groups in Ohio, groups like, uh, Created Equal, um, Heartbeat International, Ohio Right to Life, they worked really hard to defeat this. This is not a slam on them, but it’s something we need to look at nationally here.

I grow so weary, and forgive me if I’m going to preach passionately for a moment, but here goes. It angers me to the core when I see people on our side of the issue, people who say they are pro life, they are gatekeepers who control access to audiences, and what they do is they side with Planned Parenthood in covering up the injustice that we’re hoping to to expose.

And they don’t want abortion pictures shown. Oh, we don’t want to offend people. Oh, we somehow don’t want to drive them away and think we’re mean and that we’re extreme. This is a bunch of garbage. Who in their right mind thinks there could ever be a social reform movement that wins by helping its opponents cover up the injustice that they’re trying to expose?

And that’s exactly what a lot of pro lifers are doing. They don’t want to show the pictures of abortion. They don’t want them to be seen. Instead, they’re, they’re relying as many churches do on marketing consultants who are telling them work at being nice, work at having the felt needs of the people you’re talking to met and don’t, don’t show those ugly pictures, whatever you do, this is garbage.

Social reform movements win by exposing evil, not by covering it up. So we have got to do a better job at. somehow recovering our courage. We have faced a tremendous loss of nerve in many portions of our movement that have decided we’re not going to show abortion for what it is. I can’t think of a more disastrous strategy, but that’s what’s happening.

And my hat is off to groups like Created Equal, Center for Bioethical Reform, and others. who do use the pictures and use them effectively. Uh, we use them at LTI as well, because we know the pictures change how people feel about abortion, which is a necessary predicate for changing how they think and ultimately behave.

A third lesson from Ohio, churches. How many churches, I don’t have the survey data in front of me, but I do have anecdotal reports from the pro life groups on the ground there in Ohio. How many churches leading up to this referendum used their their pulpit time to equip believers to engage appropriately on this issue.

In fact, let’s make it even easier. How many of them even mentioned issue one and said to their people, we have a moral responsibility as believers to be salt and light in the culture, and we have a moral responsibility to love. our neighbor, including our unborn neighbors, and Issue 1, if it passes, is not an example of loving our unborn neighbor.

It’s an example of destroying them, and God will not hold us guiltless for doing that. No, there, from what I understand from the anecdotal reports I’ve gotten, very little happened at the church level, and certainly not enough to make a difference culturally. I’m at the point now where I think Christians in churches that refuse to talk about abortion need to do one of two things.

Become very noisy or leave because sitting by while your church leadership decides we’re not going to talk about this issue. That’s somehow a political issue. Well, in the book I address that issue and I also address the reasons pastors don’t want to talk about it. Now, by all means, approach your pastor graciously, but after doing so, if your church leadership refuses to teach a biblical view about the unborn and about the act of destroying innocent human beings made in the image of God, I think you need to either really make it uncomfortable for your leadership to be silent, Or, if that’s not going to work, find a place to fellowship where they teach the whole counsel of God, including how believers apply their worldview to issues like abortion.

And this lousy excuse that we don’t want to be political, this is garbage, and I’ll tell you why. It is the fact of the matter that every moral issue becomes politicized. Slavery became politicized. Sex trafficking becomes politicized. Segregation became politicized. I mean, you pick any moral issue there is, it will become politicized.

But that does not relieve believers of acting politically to save and rescue the lives of their fellow image bearers made in the image of God. I mean, I don’t understand this at all. And this is where… Uh, if I were an outsider looking in on a lot of evangelical Christianity today, I’d be scratching my head on one hand I’d be thinking wow you people claim to believe this bible of yours That teaches that humans have value and are made in the image of god and yet you don’t want to engage politically to uphold that view.

How serious are you about your thinking? I think a lot of our church leaders have it all backwards. They think if we talk about these issues we’re going to drive away these precious seekers as if somehow it’s on us to draw the faithful rather than God who is in the one who’s in the business of saving people.

This whole marketing idea causes us to become timid. And we’re very tepid in our approach to these moral issues because we think it’s on us to save people. I can’t imagine a more disastrous view than this idea that salvation is up to me. I couldn’t save myself. What makes me think I could save you or anybody else that’s out there?

The reality is, it’s God who is sovereign in salvation. Let’s preach the whole counsel of God and let the Holy Spirit do the work of drawing those that are his. All right, uh, sermon is over for the moment, almost. The set, the fourth thing that’s a lesson in Ohio, and this is something a lot of Christians don’t understand, the process itself was deeply problematic.

Ohio voted back in August, I think it was, to remove, or I should say, to, to not raise the threshold of altering the state constitution to 60%, but have it at 50%. A simple majority can alter the constitution in the state of Ohio, the state constitution. This is problematic on a lot of levels. Our founders were not in the business of creating a direct democracy.

And there’s reasons for that, which I’ll get to in a moment. Our founders were about creating a constitutional republic where the natural rights of human beings, meaning those rights you have in virtue of being human, are protected from tyrannical majorities, because a majority that votes one way in favor of human rights can vote another way against them at a future date.

And our founders understood this, that majorities can take away rights they give with one hand. And, and, and with the other take them away. This is very problematic. And so what our founders did is create a constitutional republic where there are certain rights that humans have that are pre political.

They’re not decided by a majority. They are decided simply on the virtue that you’re human. They’re recognized. Not decided is a better way of putting this. In other words, it’s, You have certain rights as a human being that flow from your human nature. Government doesn’t create these rights. Government’s job is to recognize and protect them.

And what we saw in Ohio was a process that is spreading to other states as well. Where, where simple majorities are deciding what these, these basic human rights are not the, the, the way our founders saw it, that we have rights in virtue of our humanity and they wanted it to be very difficult for majorities to trample on the rights of minorities.

And therefore they put in place a constitutional Republic where laws are to be crafted by state houses and by Congress, not by majorities, just acting in. in direct democracy because they had seen what happened with that in France, what happened with that in England, and they didn’t want that for here.

In Ohio, what you had was not only a chucking of the right to life of the unborn, I fear you saw a chucking of our constitutional republic in favor of direct And we all know what majorities can do, especially majorities that don’t have a biblical worldview, that can be very dangerous for those that are weak and vulnerable.

The fifth lesson from Ohio is, and this is something my friend Mark Harrington at Created Equal has pointed out, and I think he’s right. We need to start viewing these state referendum issues coming up on abortion, the 11 or so that are going to come up in 2024 and in 2025. We need to start viewing these as pro life beachheads, like Normandy.

We need to get on the beach there, establish a beachhead, and win, and then go to the next state and win. And what tends to happen is, I think, in these states, as Mark has pointed out, We kind of leave it to that state to fix the problem and not recognizing there are national implications. And that, that happened in Ohio.

I mean, I’ll admit it. I’m busy doing all kinds of other stuff. I focused on Ohio in that I talked about it. I wrote some things about it, but I didn’t have time to fully devote to it. And in the future, maybe we need to re examine that. Maybe it’s all hands on the beach. Let’s get everybody doing what needs to be done when Ohio’s having a thing.

They need our donations. They need our money for pro lifers to fight against it. They need our time. And I’ll tell you what, a lot of pro lifers did work very hard in Ohio. They knocked on thousands of doors. They were just outgunned and outnumbered. And that’s what happens when your primary challenge is worldview, not marketing.

When the culture disagrees with you on worldview issues, marketing isn’t going to overcome that. You’ve got to hit them with a persuasive case for life. Now in Ohio, one of the things that happened is the campaign focused largely on the rights of parents, trying to tell Ohio voters, look, if you vote for issue one, what’s going to happen is if your child identifies as trans, for example, the state constitution is going to protect that child’s right to transition against your will.

Well, that message didn’t resonate because everybody knew the real issue was abortion. And what we need to do in the future is we need to head on, take on the abortion issue, deal with what’s really at stake in that question. In other words, show the pictures, make the arguments, make the main thing the main thing, which is what we always try to do here at LTI.

And it’s important that we continue doing that. So those are some lessons from Ohio. We got a lot of work in front of us, folks. This is no excuse to quit. Roll up your sleeves. There are other states coming up. We’re going to have to get serious about winning this fight. And, and we’re going to have to do it with a good dose of courage because the culture is not with us the way we think.

had hoped for years that it was prior to the reversing of Roe v Wade. We got work to do, but we’re going to do it here. We’ll keep you informed. Thank you for watching. I’m Scott Klusendorf, president of Life Training Institute, and here on The Case for Life, we want to equip you for the fight that’s ahead, however long and hard that may be.

Look forward to seeing you next time.