What is the pro-life movement doing wrong?
G. K. Chesterton once wrote of the Catholic Church as a “wild” and “untamed” force and warned against falling into the “foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe.” He wrote about orthodoxy in a time rife with heresies. He wrote about the human person as created in the image and likeness of God while ideologies that violated human dignity were just coming to fruition, threatening human life on a massive scale.
But the inhuman ideologies that were spawning like spiders in Chesterton’s day are now neatly woven into our culture. The radical Eugenic and economic theories against which he battled so robustly have now conquered our culture, transforming it into the complacent, soft and murderous Culture of Death. In fact we could look to Chesterton as a patron of our time, since he was a battler against the Culture of Death “before it was cool.” We can take a cue from him: “It is always easy to be a modernist,” he wrote, but it is also “easy to be a snob.” We must avoid being either. I recently heard a speaker who seems to pursue this golden mean.
Jason Jones was the key speaker at a recent event in NH. I was in the audience, and I thought that the statements he made rang beautifully true. But he struck me as unlikely to be well-received by “modernists” or “snobs.” When I got the opportunity to interview him I asked him to follow-up on a few of the points he made in his speech:
You made a stark observation: that we, as citizens of a democratic republic, will be judged on the same terms as were the kings, emperors and pharaohs of the past. With regard to the abortion issue, what are some ways for Americans to execute their sovereignty?
We are responsible for the laws of our land. Oftentimes I hear Conservatives proudly say “I do my part: I vote in every election.” Well, if you think that all you have to do to live out your civic duty is vote every two years, then you’re a D- student. That is not what self-government is. That is not what being a sovereign is. That is not taking responsibility for the laws of your land.
We live in a constitutional republic. We are called to full participation in our republic. Now I don’t mean that we all have to run to be representatives. But we do all have to participate in choosing our representatives. And we have to participate in a real way. The real way of participating is not just voting, but also being active in political parties, especially in the positions that those parties hold at the platforms.
So we should be involved in our party, whether it’s the Republican Party or the Democrat Party. We should push to be on the platform committee, we should make sure that the platform of our party corresponds to what we hold dear on the most important issues, especially life and marriage. We should do more than just vote to assure that the people we want to represent us get elected. We should work to raise money for them, we should start political action committees—that’s being active in a very real sense.
Not all of us have money. Not all of us have time. But all of us have either some money or some time. And we should use that money and time to make sure that we have representatives that respect marriage and the dignity of the human person. And we need representatives who will not only mouth that they’re pro-life, but actually act pro-life once they get in office.
When he was a young Lutheran minister, Father Richard Neuhaus, founder of First Things Magazine, said that the greatest tragedy in American political history is that the pro-life flag is being planted on the Republican side of the debate. I think that Father Neuhaus was wrong. The greatest political tragedy in American political history is that the pro-life flag is not being planted firmly in both of our major political parties, and in our independent parties.