Eighteen months ago I met a pro-choice atheist lesbian named Deanna.
At first glance one would think Deanna and I would have nothing in common, but I’ve found her to be intelligent, reasonable, and remarkably open-minded. We’ve become good friends.
Our friendship began as a debate about abortion. We exchanged 127 philosophical emails and eventually started Skyping together. Our conversations weren’t heated arguments; we were engaging in a mutual search for truth. I didn’t see Deanna as a long-term project or potential notch for my pro-life belt. I truly cared about Deanna as my good friend, and she knew that.
Naturally, I asked Deanna what happened. She said that two factors were necessary for her change of mind: rigorous philosophy and relational apologetics. She needed more persuasive arguments than she’d heard before, arguments that took her view seriously and responded to it directly; she also needed to hear those arguments in the context of a loving friendship with someone on the other side.
I want to help pro-life people develop both their philosophical arguments and their relational approach. In fact, I’m so passionate about accomplishing this goal that I have left my former position at Right to Life of Central CA (RLCC) and launched a nonprofit organization–the Equal Rights Institute–to do so. Our mission is to train pro-life advocates to think clearly, reason honestly, and argue persuasively. We will accomplish this mission through speaking, writing, and campus outreach.
Why did I leave my job to start a national pro-life training organization?
RLCC remains one of the most effective local pro-life organizations I know. But that’s exactly what it is: a local organization. RLCC was very gracious to occasionally allow me to speak at national events, but because I was working for a local organization, I was spending the majority of my time on local work.
In order to maximize my impact by training campus clubs around the country, I need to work at a national organization, regardless of how much I love RLCC, its board, and its staff. I investigated existing national pro-life organizations, but ultimately concluded that I shouldn’t try to shoehorn my vision into an existing organization. I need to start something new.
My brother Tim and I are uniquely qualified and positioned to train pro-life college students.
- Tim graduated four years ago from Biola University with a degree in philosophy. I don’t know anybody who can step onto a college campus and field test arguments like Tim can. We want to be innovative and flexible, willing to change up our training materials as soon as we find we can make more persuasive arguments or provide more helpful ways to communicate those arguments.
- We have logged hundreds of conversations with pro-choice people, and we’ve noticed the arguments that don’t connect with today’s pro-choice college students.
- I have partnered with Students for Life of America (SFLA) to reach the 8,000 active pro-life college students in the country, and SFLA is excited to get us in front of as many of those students as possible!
We’re going to use speaking, writing, and campus outreach to accomplish our mission.
In the last four months alone I’ve spoken to thousands of pro-life advocates at five events in California, two events in Arizona, one event in Virginia, and nine events in Canada! In the next three months I will speak to thousands more in Oregon, Iowa, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco!
We also have three book projects planned, the first of which we’ve already started. It will be a book on conversation stoppers: ways that both pro-life and pro-choice people inadvertently interfere with productive dialogue.
We will reach college students through seminars and outreaches on their campuses and through ongoing mentoring of the SFLA Regional Coordinators who are providing coaching and training for all of those clubs.