Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, explains why the support of evangelicals is crucial to the pro-life movement.
Starting tomorrow, ERLC and Focus on the Family will be hosting Evangelicals for Life, the first-ever major pro-life conference for evangelicals in conjunction with the March for Life. Here are five facts you should know about the annual demonstration:
1. The March for Life is an annual pro-life event held in Washington, D.C., on or around the anniversary of the United States Supreme Court's decision legalizing abortion in the case Roe v. Wade. The overall goal of the march is to overturn the Roe decision.
2. The first March for Life was held in the nation's capital on Jan. 22, 1974 — exactly one year after the Roe decision was announced.
3. The annual event was started by Nellie Gray. Following the Supreme Court decision in Roe in 1973, Gray retired from her federal career and dedicated the remainder of her life to the protection of the unborn. Before her death in 2012, Gray had attended all 38 rallies.
4. The March for Life is one of only two protest marches and demonstrations that are held annually on the National Mall. The other one is “Rolling Thunder,” a demonstration of bikers for the benefit of American POWs held every year on Memorial Day.
5. The original March in 1974 was attended by 20,000 pro-lifers. By 2003, the March for Life brought in around 250,000 attendees each year. In the past few years, however, an estimated 300,000-400,000 people have attended the D.C march.
This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the first of the Selma to Montgomery marches. During the month of March 1965, civil rights leaders led three protest marches that were pivotal in advancing the rights of black Americans. Here are five sets of facts you should know about these historic marches:
1. Segregation in America officially ended with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Yet in some Southern states measures were still being taken to obstruct black Americans from registering to vote. During the same month as the passage of the civil rights legislation, an Alabama judge issued an injunction forbidding any gathering of three or more people under sponsorship of numerous civil rights groups. This order shut down efforts to oppose disenfranchisement in the state for the remainder of 1964.
2. During the first few months of 1965, several groups and civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr. broke the injunction and lead marches in Selma, Alabama. During a peaceful protest on February 18, white segregationists attacked a group of peaceful demonstrators in the nearby town of Marion. In the ensuing chaos, an Alabama state trooper fatally shot Jimmie Lee Jackson, a civil rights activist and Baptist deacon. Civil rights groups organized a march for March 7 from Selma to Montgomery to demand justice for the murder of Jackson and to confront Governor Wallace over voting rights. In response, Wallace issues a declaration forbidding the protest and orders the state troopers to "Use whatever measures are necessary to prevent a march."
3. After Sunday morning church services on March 7, approximately 600 demonstrators headed east out of Selma on U.S. Highway 80. When they came to Edmund Pettus Bridge, just outside the city, state troopers confronted them. The police shot tear gas into the crowd and began using their clubs to beat the protestors. By the end of the day, which will become known as “Bloody Sunday”, 100 of the 600 marchers required medical attention for fractured skulls, broken teeth and limbs, gas poisoning, and whip lashes. The brutality was broadcast on national television, causing Americans across the country to be dismayed by the police violence. Numerous civil rights and religious leaders of all faiths traveled to Selma to join the protest.
4. On Tuesday, March 9, King leads another march of 3,000 protestors. When they reach the bridge this time they are met by 500 state troopers. As the marchers near, the troopers open their ranks, seemingly to allow the protestors to continue on. King realizes that continuing will incite the police to more violence, so he had the marchers turn around and returned back to their rally point at Brown Chapel.
5. The injunction against the protestors is lifted on March 17 by a federal judge, with the backing and support of President Lyndon Johnson. The president then federalized the Alabama National Guard and sent 1,000 military policemen and 2,000 army troops to escort the march from Selma. On Sunday, March 21, close to 8,000 people assembled at Brown Chapel for the third attempt. On Thursday, March 25, 25,000 people marched from to the State Capitol Building where King delivered the speech How Long, Not Long. In the speech, King said:
"They told us we wouldn't get here. And there were those who said that we would get here only over their dead bodies, but all the world today knows that we are here and we are standing before the forces of power in the state of Alabama saying, "We ain't goin' let nobody turn us around."
Because of the attention raised by the protests, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, which guaranteed the right to vote—first awarded by the 15th Amendment—to all black Americans.
Marijuana supporters continue to succeed with their plan to legalize this dangerous drug across the country. Their strategy is now quite obvious. They begin by playing on the public’s compassion with medical marijuana, and then follow up with their true agenda: the widespread legalization of recreational marijuana.
A quick look at the 2014 vote results reveals this strategy very clearly. Oregon and Alaska, which both legalized recreational marijuana on Tuesday, have had legal medical marijuana since 1998. The medical marijuana efforts passed in those states because voters were told it would help relieve peoples’ suffering. Fast forward to 2014, and they now have legal recreational marijuana.
Once a state legalizes medical marijuana, proponents know it’s just a matter of time until they can advance their real agenda. Apparently, it takes about 15 years to desensitize the public enough to the dangers of marijuana to achieve the next step toward full legalization. The other two states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana followed the same trajectory as Oregon and Alaska. Colorado legalized medical marijuana in 1998 and Washington State did so in 2000. Then, in 2012, the two states legalized marijuana for recreational use.
The town of South Portland in Maine followed this path on Tuesday as well, voting to legalize recreational use of the drug. Maine legalized the medical use of marijuana in 1999. The District of Columbia, which also legalized recreational marijuana on Tuesday, is the outlier. The District legalized medical marijuana in 2010, but given the extreme liberal disposition of the majority of the District’s voters, the more rapid fall isn’t really surprising.
Tuesday’s marijuana votes proved medical marijuana’s status as the Trojan Horse of the marijuana legalization movement. No state has legalized recreational marijuana without first legalizing medical marijuana. The lesson for all the states is clear: if you legalize medical marijuana, it’s just a short matter of time before you will be contending with the likelihood of legal recreational marijuana. Florida’s voters saved themselves from this fate on Tuesday when they rejected an effort to legalize medical marijuana. Given the clear connection between legalization of medical and recreational marijuana, it’s safe to say that Florida has bought itself more time before it must deal with the question of legalized recreational marijuana.
With so much at stake, the church must respond. First, Christians must make sure they balance their compassion with discernment. While we want to do all we can to help people, we must see through what has become the obvious true goal of legalizers. Christians must not allow themselves to be used for an agenda that will result in thousands of destroyed lives. Marijuana is an addictive, mind-altering substance that is nearly impossible to use in moderate doses. It has been a gateway drug for millions of users. Making it more accessible will lead to more drug addiction and all the social costs associated with drug abuse.
Second, Christians must not allow themselves to be persuaded that marijuana is an acceptable medical remedy. Using marijuana exposes a person to multiple toxic compounds and serious personal negative repercussions. Marijuana puts the user at higher risk for cancer, psychosis, strokes, respiratory damage, and heart attacks. It interferes with work and relationships.
Third, Christians must stay engaged in local debates and politics to help keep their communities as drug-free as possible. The path from medical marijuana to recreational marijuana does not have to be inevitable. California, which was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, rejected the effort to legalize its recreational use in 2010. The Maine town of Lewiston also rejected an effort to legalize the recreational use of marijuana on Tuesday. Neighbor love requires that we look out for our fellow citizens. We can help by resisting the deceptive messages of the marijuana purveyors and show up at the polls every time our state is asked to take the next step toward marijuana’s legalization.
Finally, churches must engage their communities. Churches must continue to promote healthy lifestyles as a key to human flourishing for their own members as well as for the public in general. Drug abuse is not compatible with human flourishing. Christians can emphasize this by maintaining drug-free lifestyles themselves and helping their communities understand the connection between drug-free lifestyles and personal potential. In addition, churches should provide services that can help people in their communities overcome drug addiction and reclaim their lives. Jesus not only saves the soul; He also restores broken lives. Churches must offer this message of hope and opportunity to their communities.
While many states are falling for the lie of marijuana’s harmlessness, the church does not have to be taken in. The Bible’s call to personal purity and sobriety has not changed. We must remain faithful to its call and not be deceived by the culture’s call to personal indulgence. As a world steeped in confusion follows a path to destruction, God’s people should be like Daniel and his friends who chose a healthy lifestyle over the king’s table. A watching world will take notice that our lives are healthier and more fulfilling lived in obedience to the Lord. We can make a difference. For the sake of millions of people around us and the glory of God we must.