On June 6, 2016 I founded a Facebook group called the Society of St. Sebastian. It provided a platform for many of the nation’s top pro-life public policy scholars and many professional activists who work, or have worked, on behalf of the pro-life cause to share their expertise.
Initially, this exclusive group privately shared their knowledge of legal and legislative issues and research to help their colleagues gain a better understanding of the legal and moral questions surrounding specific topics. The purpose of these discussions were to equip others with the information and strategies needed in order to ensure that each would be able to speak about these issues with more knowledge and clarity, whether they were speaking with legislators or students.
Over the course of a few months, many members began to express an interest in expanding the reach of their knowledge, thereby helping more scholars and activists in our shared pursuit of creating a Culture of Life. We determined the best way to achieve this goal was by creating a quarterly journal that focuses on the subject of bioethics and the law exclusively.
As a result, Ana Brennan, Dr. Jacqueline Harvey, and I were tasked with making this Facebook group into an official nonprofit organization. Furthermore, The Journal of Bioethics in Law and Culture will be the official publication of the Society of St. Sebastian.
On January 25th, the premier edition of our e-journal debuts at https://www.societyofstsebastian.org/. We encourage all pro-life people who wish to learn about the legal and legislative issues in more depth to become a member of the Society of St. Sebastian. We certainly encourage those pro-life professors to become members and lend their expertise to the community at large as well.
The Society is the perfect forum for both scholars and professional activists to come together to discuss public policy and how it can effect the Culture of Life. It will also provide an avenue for professors seeking tenure and express their pro-life convictions in a journal that will be peer reviewed. The editorial board for the journal is comprised of well-known pro-life experts such as Dr. Michael New and Deanna Wallace, JD of Americans United for Life.
The society’s namesake, St. Sebastian, was an early Christian martyr who had the unique distinction of being executed twice for his Christian faith. After surviving the first attempted execution, Sebastian sought out the Roman Emperor Diocletian and publicly pleaded with him to stop the Christian persecution. He was ordered to be executed again for his efforts. What is significant was that St. Sebastian spoke for those who could not speak for themselves at the time.
Much like what both activists and scholars do when asked to either lobby or speak at legislative committees. These people must go before governmental authority and plead for those who cannot speak for themselves. The Journal of Bioethics in Law and Culture is an educational piece to further inform those who advocate in the legislatures and courts so that they may speak with a truly informed voice.
Interestingly, there are several very good pro-life publications available to the public, yet none of them exclusively focus on pro-life public policy issues. As a result, the Society of St. Sebastian saw a gap that needed to be filled. It is our hope that this new pro-life journal will help further the pro-life cause by providing both scholars and activists with an opportunity to publish their insights on a regular basis. Furthermore, we encourage those who lobby on the behalf of pro-life causes to submit written testimony to be published within the journal as well.
This is a great way to help other lobbyists and scholars to see exactly what others have testified on specific issues. Furthermore, we believe that The Journal of Bioethics and Culture will also become a much needed source for those pro-life undergraduate and graduate students who are writing on pro-life public policy as well.
We expect The Journal of Bioethics in Law and Culture to become an intellectual backbone for the pro-life community since it will be a scholarly quarterly. In addition, we expect the Society of St. Sebastian to grow and help further educate activists at all levels. The society will feature a public Facebook page and Twitter account for all pro-life people to be able to participate in.
It also is our hope that you will join us on this new endeavor to continue in our fight to protect the innocent just like St. Sebastian. It is important that pro-life people of all backgrounds become more informed about the moral and legal issues surrounding pro-life public policy. It is as St. Thomas Aquinas once said, “But in so far as it (human law) deviates from reason, it is called an unjust law, and has the nature not of law but of violence” (see, Summa Theologica, I-II, Q. 93, A. 6). We at the Society of St. Sebastian look forward to helping the pro-life movement forward and changing unjust laws. Together we can implement a Culture of Life!
LifeNews Note: Joe Kral has been involved in the pro-life movement since he has been in college. His MA in Theology was completed at the University of St. Thomas where he specialized in bioethics. From 1996-2003 he was the Legislative Director for Texas Right to Life. During that time he was also a lobbyist for the Department of Medical Ethics at National Right to Life. From 2004-2007 he consulted the Texas Catholic Conference on pro-life legislative initiatives. In 2006 he was awarded the “Bishop’s Pro-Life Award for Civic Action” from the Respect Life Ministry in the Diocese of Dallas. He currently is an adjunct professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas.