[In late 1983, I founded the New England Christian Action Council (NECAC) when I lived outside Boston, completing my M.Div. at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. The motto of the NECAC was “biblically committed to protecting the unborn” and my initial newsletters were entitled “Contrabortion,” written for grass-roots pro-life Christians. I started my engagement with the subject in a reactive posture, that is, defining and critiquing it. But being committed to the biblical foundations in Genesis 1-3, I grew consistently more proactive across the years. So here are the original unvarnished articles, as my thinking was at the time.]
Contrabortion, Vol. 3, No. 2, November, 1986
“Thank You for Fighting for What is Right”
John C. Rankin
On Saturday, November 1, 1986, about 250 of us marched from Copley Place to City Hall Plaza in downtown Boston. As in all of our Stroll-a-thons, we celebrated life as God’s gift and thus expressed our opposition to the destruction of the unborn. In the march and at the rally, it was a time of worship in song, prayer and fellowship.
Two items were interesting to note. First, we saw various expressions of support from people whom we passed. In particular, I remember one cab driver who gave us a “thumbs up” sign and shouted “hip, hip, hooray!” And I did not discern one negative response. In all our Stroll-a-thons to date, the positive response of onlookers always outweighs the negative responses by at least a 9-1 margin. Is our society really in favor of abortion? Or do they simply need the positive encouragement of Christ’s love, justice and forgiveness to bust them through the binding rhetoric of “pro-choice” language, to enable them to stand up and express their compassion for the unborn? If we stand on a foundation of openness, hope and the affirmation of the true dignity of women as image-bearers of God, then we will continue to silence the false and negative agenda of those who favor legalized abortion. But in order for that hopeful day to arrive, we must win the hearts and minds of this nation. And only in Christ is it possible.
Second, we were one of four protests in Boston that day. A march for “peace and justice” in opposition to certain national policy drew about 2,000 people. The Sikh’s had a rally of about 50 people near the State House protesting persecution in Punjab, India (they cheered us as we went by), and a handful of animal rights activists protested at Downtown Crossing. The Boston Globe dutifully covered these three protests, but ignored us. Perhaps we were not volatile or curious enough for “news,” or perhaps they did not wish to give our positive celebration equal time for fear we might persuade people in opposition to their editorial policy. That’s okay, for I know we have never lost a pro-life advocate, but we have converted many “pro-choice” people to the pro-life view, even to the Gospel. And we’ll continue to do so.
At the rally itself, there was a gentleman who happened to pass by, and he stopped and listened. He passed to me a note and a donation of fifty dollars through Tamara Humphrey, our administrative director. The note read:
Dear Sir: Twenty years ago I fathered an “unwanted” child.” The mother & I were students and we planned an abortion. An Anglican clergyman in London told us it was wrong. Today my daughter is in her second year at university in England, a bright, cheerful young woman. Thank you for fighting for what is right.
[The man’s handwritten note, on a memo with the logo and name of The Bostonian Hotel (at Faneuil Hall Marketplace) is taped to the back inside cover of my study Bible to this day. These many years later, I consider an appropriate slogan, if only I had thought of it earlier: “Pro-Life — A Choice You Can Life With.”]