Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pro-Life Cause and ADF

Over at the Alliance Defense Fund website there is an amazing story of Canadian collegiate who stood for her pro-life convictions and was arrested on her campus.  The story was beautifully written by Chris Potts and describes the journey of Ruth Lobo.  Ruth was arrested in October 2010 for speaking out at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.  Here are a few pieces from the article but be sure to go to the link and the read the whole story.
The trouble with tyranny is that it always comes clothed as legitimate authority.
No one ever said, in their time, that Nero wasn't truly Caesar, George III wasn't really king, Bull Connor wasn't within his legal rights turning on the fire hoses in Montgomery. They all had legitimate authority – they were just wrong. Wrong in a way no one with clear eye and keen conscience could fail to see … and stand against.
Looking back, it's easy to understand that, and to recognize the heroism of those who challenged their brutal decrees. Rebellion looks wise and appropriate and courageous, a few years after the fact. Especially when the rebel writes like the Apostle Paul, speaks like Patrick Henry, radiates simple righteousness as clearly as Rosa Parks.
It's harder to know tyrants when they stand right before us in our own age, our own communities – wielding not lions or swords or police dogs, but regulations, closed-door meetings, clipboards.
Harder, too, to recognize heroes, especially when they're young, and still finding their eloquence. When the voice of their protest, like the voice of their conscience, is a little louder than we'd like ... when the rebellion takes a form we might not have chosen ... when the confrontations make us nervous, uncomfortable. Most of us, after all, were raised to respect authority. And from a distance, the line between legitimate authority and tyranny can sometimes look awfully thin.
This is a story of some young people who met tyranny up close – and recognized it when they saw it. For each of them, it was simple faith in God – not some innate, restless teenage defiance – that urged them to face that tyranny. Conscience, more than courage, drove them to stand.
Standing, though, they learned that tyrants have weapons, as well as agendas ... and that they're willing to use them.
Ruth Lobo asked permission to set up a display from the Genocide Awareness Project but this was not allowed.
Lifeline asked permission to set up the display on Tory Quad, a large plaza and the busy center of student activities. Officials refused, saying some might find the vivid photos "offensive" and "disturbing." Instead, they offered Lifeline space in the Carleton equivalent of Outer Mongolia. Polizogopoulos interceded on Lifeline's behalf, but university administrators were unyielding.
"I was very nervous," Ruth says. "We talked a lot about the possibility of arrest, and we were pretty convicted that that would not be an option … that the university would not go that far to silence their students." Nevertheless, she began doing her homework, studying the university's policies with regard to student speech.
"I did a lot of research, so I could be well-equipped and know: Are we breaking some kind of policy? Doing something wrong? What does respecting the university mean in this situation?"
In the end, it wasn't just Carleton's ambivalence toward the taking of human life that convinced Lifeline members they needed to go through with the demonstration. It was the realization that other universities across Canada and the U.S. were clamping down in similar ways on other pro-life student groups, denying their right to speak hard truths about these life-and-death issues on campus.
"This has been epidemic across Canada," Ruth says. (And just as common across the U.S.) "We felt very convicted this was something we had to do. So, on October 4, we informed the university that we were going to go ahead and do the GAP in protest of universities that try to censor their pro-life students."
That morning, the Lifeline students met and prayed together. Word was that local police and Carleton security officers were waiting for them in force. They loaded their materials and drove to campus, with James ominously aware he was driving "into a very hostile environment."
The students were barely in sight of the quad when campus security officials blocked their path. Lifeline was ordered to leave at once. Affirming her rights as a student, Ruth began reading from Carleton's own official policy declaring student freedoms to speak and demonstrate peacefully.
A guard interrupted. The protest was over, he said. Lifeline needed to go. Ruth said no.
"Okay," the guard said, signaling the other officers. "You can take this lady first."
Five students were arrested. The charge was trespassing … on their own campus walkways.
"A scary feeling," Nicholas acknowledges, but "a few in the crowd spoke up for us, including one of the professors, who went to the head of security, asked what he was doing, and said, 'How can you be arresting them for merely stating and showing what their point of view is?'
"Part of confronting people and exposing injustice is taking the persecution that will inevitably result," Nicholas says. "From Martin Luther King to William Wilberforce, no one was able to end an injustice without accepting the persecution that came from that."
"Standing there with handcuffs on, there's nothing you can do," James says. "Nothing I can say that would change it. It's a little frightening, because you never know what is going to happen. What are they going to charge us with? What's going to happen with my university degree?
"But, at the same time," he says, "I felt that that was the right thing to do. It was the right way to go about it. A lot of anxiety, but – at the end of the day – a lot of peace."
There is more to the story so be sure to go to the Alliance Defense Fund website and read the full story.  Courage should be remembered and honored.