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This blog site will feature essays, columns and musings that deal with the intersection of Christianity and journalism and the American Songbook.

Spring Life Celebration (speech: Pierce Co. Pregnancy Care Center)

Crisis Pregnancy Center
Annual Spring Life Celebration
Master of Ceremonies Script (edited)
(May 6, 1993)

Remarks:
Welcome to the Pierce County Crisis Pregnancy Center’s Annual Spring Life Celebration. Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ on behalf of all the infant-Americans whom you have saved this past year through your efforts with the Crisis Pregnancy Center.

Let me congratulate you on your boldness, your commitment and your convictions for publicly gathering together for what in our society is increasingly an unacceptable purpose – the celebration of practical Christianity at work in our culture. We are awfully glad you’re here because this is an evening to rejoice in God’s goodness and mercy, an evening to enjoy likeminded Christian fellowship, and an evening to be inspired by one of America’s most outspoken and effective champions of the family.

So gloom and doom be gone; you’re not a part of our presentation this evening, because we serve a living and gracious God who has brought us together to rejoice and be encouraged.

We pro-life Christians need to support these men and women whom God has raised up to carry our political banner with our money, our doorbelling and our telephoning. They are our missionaries in the political jungle. Let’s be generous because they represent all of us.

A question: Are we, as Washington State, more ungodly than we were 20 years ago – Roe v. Wade, January, 23, 1973? 1 would suggest, yes. Are we, as God’s peculiar people, more alive and energized to our obligation to be God’s salt and light in our state’s culture than we were 20 years ago? I would say, absolutely! Witness this evening as only one example! This wouldn’t have happened 20 years ago! Tonight is about the present and the future. But, before we get to the present and the future I want to share a few personal thoughts on where we have been as an evangelical Protestant church to help set our celebration in perspective.

Almost 20 years ago, Dr. Harold O.J. Brown, the founder of the Christian Action Council and the Crisis Pregnancy Centers and one of America’s great Christian thinkers, wrote one of the most provocative articles ever to appear in Christianity Today. It was entitled, “The Passivity of American Christians” (1/16/76). His basic message was that we Christians suffer from intellectual intimidation and political and cultural oppression in America, and that we must reject the secular mythology that says that cultural pluralism means the systematic exclusion of anything Christian from the general public discussion over issues of the day. He wrote that we Christians are to society as the soul is to the body (as the great 2nd century Christian philosopher Tertullian wrote), therefore, one of the things we must do is to “acknowledge that if God has placed us in a largely non-Christian society, it is not in order that we be transformed by society, but that society be healed and transformed by us.”

Moved by that article, I called the two-person national office of the Christian Action Council in Washington, D.C. (January, 1976) and invited Joe Brown to come to Arizona where I was pastoring. I offered to arrange speaking engagements in evangelical churches in Phoenix and Tucson, and to promote statewide media coverage of his message. After reading Brown’s article, I also joined the Arizona chapter of the National Right to Life organization to become the only Protestant pastor in the state publicly identified with the organized pro-life movement. I was the token Protestant in a sea of Roman Catholics and Mormons. What valiant warriors for the unborn those people were in those days! So few of us evangelicals cared! Let me quickly add that by the time Dr. Brown finished his tour of Arizona we had several prominent evangelical pastors in the movement.

A few weeks later, Joe Brown invited me to Washington, D.C., to replace him as National Director of the Christian Action Council as he went on to a very distinguished scholarly career. It was my task to bring the Christian Action Council out from under the secure sponsorship and financial umbrella of Bill McFadden of National Review, into sponsorship by the evangelical wing of the Protestant Church. To make a long and frustrating story short, I failed, in part because we evangelicals in 1975 and 1976 had not yet joined the battle to save our culture. In fact, I would suggest it wasn’t until 1978, two years later, when Francis Schaeffer’s book, Whatever Happened to the Human Race, hit the evangelical public that it became intellectually and spiritually respectable in our circles to be adamant about the sanctity of human life.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, D.C., in 1976, I can remember things:
I can remember going into supposedly friendly congressional offices (such as pro-life Cong. Larry Pressler of S.D., later Senator Larry Pressler) and having to wait for an hour to see a congressman or senator, and then having to explain that I was from the Christian Action Council which was not a part of the National Council of Churches, that I was a Bible-believing, pro-life Christian, and that I was there to encourage them and support them.

I can remember having a hard time getting into supposedly friendly evangelical congregations in the Washington area because I was mixing politics and religion, and besides I couldn’t give five easy steps for success in the Christian life. And if I did get in to speak to the congregation, they seldom had any money for our cause.

I can remember Pat Robertson bringing Kathy and I down to Virginia Beach, Va., to appear on the “700 Club” as an oddity: an evangelical lobbyist in the nation’s capital. Can you figure that!

I can remember attending a Bible study in 1976 at the Fellowship House in Washington (with Charles Colson, Harold Hughes, Al Quie, Doug Coe and several others led by Prof. Richard Lovelace of Gordon Conwell) during which I felt compelled to point out that abortion was the major government sanctioned evil which faced the Church in America. In those days, it seemed to be news to them.

And, I can remember, that after months of work we were forced to put CAC on the low burner, because we couldn’t financially support ourselves any longer, much to the disappointment of Joe Brown and “Chick” Koop (better known as Dr. C. Everett Koop, then head of pediatric surgery at Childress’ Hospital in Philadelphia and at the time, chairman of the CAC Board).

I went on to other things while Christian Action Council simmered, waiting for a more propitious mood of God’s people in America.

To come back to the original question: Are we more energized and sensitive to our cultural obligations as God’s people than we were 20 years ago? I think so. Despite much opposition, we have much to celebrate this evening.

Allow me to add a parenthetical comment about the Crisis Pregnancy Centers and Prof. Brown’s charge to us 20 years ago to be a “healing and transforming presence” in our secular society. Our pagan society tells us (as Dear Abby said last month in one of her columns, 4/12/93) that our opposition to abortion burdens us with the social responsibility to care for the new mother and her child; That because we are against killing the unborn child we are therefore responsible for the welfare of that new-born child and the mother. I say, it is enough that we stop the “slaughter of the innocents;” we do not have the further obligation imposed by a hypocritical society to care for the mother who did the right thing in the final analysis – let her child live.

Therefore, it is a great and wonderful testimony to God’s love and grace that He raised up the Crisis Pregnancy Centers, to take the additional step, to go the extra mile and put more feet on your Christian convictions by your “healing and transforming” ministry of helping, educating, housing, clothing, and evangelizing young mothers (and fathers) and babies. May God continue to bless your efforts.

The brother in Christ who has come 3000 miles to be with us is a warrior in God’s army. He is bold and articulate and has access to the corridors of earthly power. He is one of those rare individuals whom God has “raised up for such a time as this” (to reference that ancient dread Old Testament champion of ours, Esther during the time of King Xerxes of Persia in 5th c BC). Let me introduce to you our speaker for this evening, Gary Bauer.

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