NAPLES, Florida — On a sleepy Tuesday morning in Naples, a sprawling Southwest Florida enclave, I hopped into my car, driving past the city’s only Planned Parenthood on the way to St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church for the Pro-Life Conference in Naples.
Once I turned down a narrow side street, a parking lot to a rather picturesque church presented itself, packed to the brim with cars, many of which had pro-life bumper stickers. Christian and Catholic faith leaders from the tri-county region had all convened at St. John’s for what can only be described as a call to action in a post-Roe America.
Community Pregnancy Clinics (CPCI), the largest group of life-affirming pregnancy resource clinics in Florida, put on the event, which included two speakers, tables full of resources outlining the perimeter of the room, plus free coffee, water, and mini muffins. And while there was a warm sense of fellowship in the room — I even ran into my childhood pastor and youth pastor — the sense of urgency was much more palpable.
“You’re the generals in this battle, and we need more of you…We hope you’ll bring 50 more with you,” said pro-life activist Terry Beatley in the event’s opening speech. Beatley is the founder of the Hosea Initiative and is most well-known for carrying on the legacy of the “Abortion King” Dr. Bernard Nathanson.
The event served to call for faith leaders to be brave and armed with the truth, as poison arrows of rhetoric from the pro-abortion left — as well as actual physical attacks from domestic terrorists — rain down in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.
Beatley equipped pastors with Nathanson’s story — how he cofounded the National Abortion Rights Action League (which has since been renamed to NARAL Pro-Choice America) and contributed to the momentum of the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. To a crowd of engaged faith leaders seated in clusters of round tables, Beatley detailed how Nathanson became a fierce pro-life advocate, claimed responsibility for 75,000 abortions, including by abortionists he trained, and spent the rest of his life dedicated to exposing how NARAL used eight points of propaganda to convince women that ending the lives of their unborn children is a “choice.”
“Fewer women would have abortions if wombs had windows.” – Dr. Bernard Nathanson pic.twitter.com/uPmrhYHyAs
— March for Life (@March_for_Life) June 17, 2020
“Look how far we’ve come with lies, with propaganda, and most of the pastors across America don’t even preach against abortion,” Beatley remarked. “They’ve been mum too because of the lies. Too many people are scared because, ‘Oh, I’ve got pro-choice women in the congregation and they might excoriate me,’ — it’s time for a backbone.”
“Because if the father of the abortion industry could leave this truth behind, become 100 percent unequivocally pro-life, and become a child of God, what can we do with all of this truth that he left behind?” she further challenged.
‘A National Tragedy’
Dedicated resistance was palpable in the room — knowledge that everyone in attendance likely holds a belief that is growing less and less tolerated by a regime that seeks to paint half of the country as a supposed militarized “threat to democracy.”
The Biden administration’s blatant “othering” of conservative Americans, which includes many pro-life pastors, Christians, and Catholics, has Seth Gruber on high alert. Gruber, a Turning Point USA ambassador, founder and president of the White Rose Resistance, and host of a podcast called “UnAborted,” was the second speaker at the event.
“Those who murder the unborn will murder you, which is why the White House press secretary [Karine] Jean-Pierre just labeled ultra-MAGA Republicans and pro-lifers as the greatest threat to freedom and democracy,” Gruber said.
“I’m not being hyperbolic. I’m not trying to get low political potshots against my enemies to rile you up into a frenzy. I’m being honest with you. I’m not joking. Those who murder the unborn will one day murder you. The question is just, when will that happen? ” he continued. “And will you do anything to stand in the middle of the road of the culture of death with a street sign that says, ‘stop, you will go no further’ because the sons and daughters of God are awakening. This is a kairos moment.”
Gruber had earlier pointed to the 100-plus attacks on churches and pro-life organizations following the leak of the Dobbs decision and the subsequent overturning of Roe. Many of the attacks have been claimed by far-left domestic terrorist groups Ruth Sent Us and Jane’s Revenge — attacks which have included fire-bombings and threats such as, “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either.”
BREAKING: Somebody vandalized and allegedly threw Molotov cocktails into Wisconsin Family Action’s — an anti-abortion rights group — Madison office, writing w/ graffiti, “If abortions aren’t safe, then you aren’t either.”
Story TK pic.twitter.com/6Wfnyeh9hQ
— Alexander Shur (@AlexanderShur) May 8, 2022
“What churches were those pro-abortion domestic terrorist groups targeting in the leak of Dobbs and then the overturning of Roe? The churches that were actually posing a threat to their political regime, which is built on the mutilated bodies of 65 million unborn children,” Gruber noted. “They were largely attacking Catholic churches and some Protestant churches who actually put feet to their faith and tend in the public square for the rights of their unborn neighbor. They’re telling you who the threat actually is.”
Gruber specifically focused on pastors who are hesitant to address the issue of abortion with their congregations. As Breitbart News has previously reported, some more outspoken pastors celebrated the overturning of Roe and lamented the “genocide against the unborn.” In stark contrast, some self-proclaimed “pro-choice” pastors labeled the pro-life movement a “demonic agenda.” Other faith leaders stayed silent because they say “we’re not really political, we just preach the gospel,” Gruber said.
“If I sit next to a madman as he drives a car into a group of innocent bystanders, I can’t, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe, then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver,” Gruber said, quoting Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor who helped Jews escape from Nazi Germany and was ultimately hanged for his resistance in 1945.
Looking back in history at great atrocities, both Gruber and Beatley emphasized the importance of being aware, lest pastors and Christian leaders be co-opted for the purposes of the radical left. Beatley pointed to NARAL’s “Catholic Strategy,” and Gruber pointed to wide-scale Christian complicity in the persecution of Jews in Germany and the holocaust.
“Some moments [in history] carry more weight. One of the tragic lessons of history is that Christians are often not aware that they are living in one of those times right now,” he said. “…It’s an important lesson for the pro-life movement in the church to expose the false ideologies and ideas this movement is built upon to woo people back home. People are not the enemy, they are the opportunity.”
CEO of Community Pregnancy Clinics Scott Baier told me after the conclusion of the event that a low percentage of Christian churches are actually active in the pro-life movement, and called it a “national tragedy.” He emphasized that silent pastors often have a “fear of some kind” and said it is time for “churches to step up.”
Firstly, Baier said many pastors have “bought into the language of the left that politics is something we cannot be in as members of a particular faith denomination, which…as we found out today is part of the plan.” Secondly, many pastors “know that 50 percent of the Christian Church would walk away.”
“So they’re making a calculation — but I would challenge them to do what’s right, and God will bless you, but they’re making financial calculations,” he said.
“Thirdly though — and this is the real challenging one — many pastors have been compromised. They’ve taken part in abortions. … The number of pastors who say, ‘I can’t talk about it, because I took part in one’ — what we’re telling them is, ‘Your story — it needs to be told because your congregants and your parishioners need to hear that story,” he continued.
“Because 50 percent of all people who have an abortion today already had a past abortion and one in four in our society have a direct connection with abortion. So we have a nation that needs to be healed. People need to tell their story. And so pastors need to feel lifted up and inspired and supported because it’s not an easy thing to talk about your abortion,” he said.
‘Culture is Downstream From Faith’
The founder of Breitbart News, Andrew Breitbart, coined the now-famous phrase “politics is downstream from culture.” Baier contends “culture is downstream from faith.”
“We have to activate the sleeping giant of the churches, ecumenically Catholic, protestant, evangelical. We have to activate because that’s what the left fears. They fear an activated pro-life movement that’s energized by the pulpits,” he said.
I asked Baier how he handles accusations of “Christian nationalism” — a new leftwing buzzword made up to malign everyday Americans — as well as claims from Democrats such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) that crisis pregnancy clinics are deceptive or “fake.” That narrative is ever-emerging ahead of the midterm elections and as red states pass legislation restricting or banning abortion.
MSNBC must really hate Christians to promote this kind of disgusting, divisive rhetoric day in and day out. https://t.co/XjjkP68vXR
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) May 11, 2022
“They’re hijacking the language — they use euphemisms. Here’s what I say: I’m pro-life, not because I’m a Christian, a Catholic. I’m pro-life because it’s the right thing to do according to science and human nature. My faith supports me in that, but I’m not pro-life because of my faith — it reinforces it. It’s the right thing to be, to protect human life,” he replied.
“So atheists can be with us, right? People who don’t have faith are with us. It just so happens that the church is most ready to be part of the answer,” he continued. “Your Elizabeth Warrens of the world and other politicians who claim that pregnancy resource centers are somehow harming women or they are not medical — all lies, and I guarantee Elizabeth Warren has never been in a life-affirming medical clinic.”
Warren: “Crisis pregnancy centers that are there to fool people looking for pregnancy termination help outnumber abortion clinics by 3-1. We need to shut them down all around the country.”
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) July 12, 2022
Pro-lifers on the ground are also seeing many Republican lawmakers pulling back on the issue of abortion ahead of the midterms. For some politicians, Baier says the waiting game could be a smart strategy, though some are simply reverting to defensive tactics.
“We’ve done 50 years of following that strategy, of pulling back — and the left loves that. They’re doing their thing full throttle. So I think the 50 years on the ground of seeing the strategy…is no more,” he said. “We would say on the ground floor though, babies are being lost now, so let’s not wait.”
As for the pastors, Christian leaders, and CPCI, their mission going forward is clear.
“[We have spent] 50 years serving women, and this goes for all of our crisis centers, walking with them, with mercy, the hands and the voice and the arms of Christ. That’s what we’ve been doing. And we’re going to continue to do it,” Baier said, adding that the clinics offer three years of material assistance post-birth, along with all of their other services.
“As we know, evil has been unmasked, and so evil is showing itself in a way that the average person in the mushy middle, as it’s been called — it’s beyond, especially in the world of gender,” he said. “These basic fundamental principles that we’ve all held as a society for 2,000 years or more are now being called into question. So this is the moment — and it’s a moment where we’re going to galvanize, not only the church, but society to reclaim truth and beauty and goodness.”
After we finished talking and I walked back to the now-empty parking lot, Baier and the other speakers were being whisked away to Sarasota, Florida, where another mass gathering of pro-life Christian leaders and pastors awaited, ready to be stirred for the cause.