Readers of my column for the last few years might know that I am the chairman of the board of the Imago Dei Pregnancy Center in Warren, Michigan. I have also volunteered at the Center for fifteen years, and currently teach an abstinence class there based upon John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. In addition, I am a PAC director for Right to Life of Michigan and have held that position for six years. I always thought my pro-life credentials were beyond question–until today.
I received a call from a woman I did not know. She left a message on my voice mail, indicating that she had gotten my phone number from a mutual friend and that she wanted to ask me a question about our invitation for our Imago Dei fundraising banquet next month.
When I called her back, I told her who I was and asked her how I could help. She said she had received our invitation, but when she read the biography of our guest speaker, she was appalled.
Appalled at what? I wondered to myself. After all, our speaker, whom I had chosen, is Gary Glenn, currently the head of the American Family Association of Michigan, a well-known pro-life organization, and in 2006 he was a leading advocate of the Prenatal Child Protection Amendment, which would have defined an unborn child as a person from the point of conception. Furthermore, he had served on boards of pro-life groups. All of this was in the biography. What problem could this woman possibly have with this man? You’d be surprised.
Also mentioned in the biography was the fact that our speaker had run for the Michigan Senate last year and had received some notable endorsements. It was one of those endorsements that made my caller apoplectic. Care to guess which one? Planned Parenthood? No. National Abortion Rights Action League? No. National Organization of Women? No again. To channel Maxwell Smart, would you believe the National Rifle Association? Yes!
I responded by saying, “So, what’s the problem? I’m a member of the NRA and have been for several years.”
She went on to explain that the NRA and its policies have led to the proliferation of guns and to the rampant violence in our society; that the NRA believes that the mentally ill should be able to buy guns; that the NRA favors concealed carry laws. Anyone endorsed by such an organization should never be permitted to speak at a pro-life event.
I explained to her politely that only her concealed carry point was valid. I then risked giving her a stroke because I confessed that I had a concealed carry permit and that I carried often–even in church.
We debated the causes of violence for a while, and then she proudly proclaimed that she was a “seamless garment” proponent and a devotee of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago, the man who developed the seamless garment ideology in 1983.
For those who are not familiar with this insidious policy, the logic goes this way: One cannot simply support or reject a politician based upon his or her position on abortion. Abortion is only one pro-life issue. After all, health care is a pro-life issue. Welfare is a pro-life issue. Education is a pro-life issue. So, too, are capital punishment, militarism, and social and economic injustice, among others. In reality, any issue that might affect a breathing human being can be considered pro-life. The effect of this theory was to give “cover” to any Catholic who wanted to vote for a pro-death candidate. And that’s what millions of Catholics have done in the past and continue to do so today. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, in both of their presidential elections, received a majority of Catholic votes. (Of course, who truly qualifies as a “Catholic” voter is highly debatable.)
The mutual friend who had given her my phone number told me later that he was almost positive that she had voted for Barack Obama the last two elections.
After fifteen minutes of conversation, we knew neither one of us was going to change the other’s mind, so we parted amiably, after I assured her that I would remove her name from our mailing list.
Before she hung up, I asked, “So you don’t think anyone should have a gun, right?”
“Only the police,” she answered.
I didn’t have the chance to tell her that each year the National Rifle Association trains over 100,000 police officers in firearm use and safety. I wonder what she would have done with that information? Talk about cognitive dissonance!