Pro-Life Black Group Counters Pro-Abortion Group

July 7, 2008 - 8:03 PM

( - After hearing that an abortion rights group planned a summit at an historically black university in the District of Columbia this week, a black pro-life group sprang into action, assembling grassroots activists to protest the event.

"Where is the outrage for the 1,452 black children killed by abortion every day," asked Rev. Johnny M. Hunter, national director of the Life Education and Resource Network (LEARN), a pro-life group founded in 1993. "Someone must stand up for these children. Today these black ministers will do so by protesting this event."

LEARN hastily gathered several dozen of its members from around the country to offer a different message to students at Howard University than the one offered this week by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), a group with ties to the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL).

The RCRC has been around since about 1971, according to Damon Owens, a spokesman for LEARN. "But in the last few years they've changed their focus," he said. "They've brought on a black pastor ... who has created what he calls the 'black church initiative.'"

"What they've done is put a veneer of Christian terminology and Christianity and a veneer of black focus on an issue," said Owens.

They are "teaching sexuality that supports abortion-- not only supports [abortion] but promotes abortion as birth control," he said. "When they come in and try to teach issues that are important to the black community ... they're not teaching from a position of this is how you avoid abortion; this is not how you approach it from a Christian view."

"The belief structure that builds up their program is one that says pleasure is the key," said Owens. "They're clear about it on their web site."

According to the RCRC web site, the organization "works to ensure reproductive choice through the moral power of religious communities [and] give clear voice to the reproductive issues of people of color, those living in the poverty, and other underserved populations."

The RCRC does this by "assist[ing] clergy in educating their congregations, communities, and elected officials about the theological and ethical dimensions of reproductive choice."

But Owens doesn't believe the group's motives are above board.

"You need to know the organization to understand where they're going with the program," he said. "The program looks good. They talk about abstinence. They talk about God's gift of sexuality, all the true things.

"But ...the purpose in that is to steer the mentality to 'God's real purpose is you understanding the pleasure principle of sexuality.' In fact, that pleasure principle is a requirement that says that an exclusive male-female relationship is just one expression of your sexuality," Owen said.

"There are good people going into that [RCRC] conference," he said. "They understand the real issues, but what they believe they're being courageous about is even addressing issues of sexuality in the black church. So they're being courageous about even going to that conference."

"We're there as a counter conference ... to show them that you need to see the organization that's teaching it, not just dumping on the courageous idea of issues of sexuality," said Owen. "But [the RCRC] will kill you and your church."

LEARN activists gathered at a Washington, D.C. church on Friday morning to learn about different issues related to sexual health, pro-abortion groups, and how to set up a pregnancy crisis center.

"I wanted to find out what they were talking about with abortion, because I don't agree with abortion," said Sophie, a high school sophomore from Maryland. "I think that they should teach the schools [about abstinence], because there are a lot of children in my school who are pregnant."

"All of the pastors who were talking yesterday made so much sense," she said. One pastor "was telling a story about a baby who was talking from the point where he was in his mother's stomach still and how he got aborted in the third month. It was so sad I felt like crying. And when I got home I was telling everybody about the story."

For Rita Ward, a 44-year-old housewife from Petersburg, Va., the LEARN event was an opportunity for her to learn how to set up a pregnancy crisis center in her community.

"The Lord has been touching my heart for months to reach out and help African-American women in my community of Petersburg on the subject of sexual activity and the positions that they find themselves in as a result of the sexual revolution that we're experiencing," said Ward, who opposes abortion.

Young women need to be told "the consequences of not abstaining from sex, unplanned children, growing up in single households," she said. "I grew up in the South Bronx, and I experienced that as a young woman. I did marry after having my children.

"Things that I've experienced as a result of not planning my life and planning my children have caused ... not only impacted my life and slowed my progress economically, there's no doubt that my decisions have impacted [my children] negatively," Ward said.

"I cannot sit by and watch another young black woman go through those things. Their lives could be so much different," she said.