Silent “LIFE tape” demonstration receives a loud and hostile response

Students stand together in prayerful protest – Photo credit: Bethany Bolen

Peaceful and silent, their mouths covered in red tape, dozens of young people prayed before a Planned Parenthood clinic for two hours last week in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The students from local colleges stood in a straight line facing the community. Wearing the band of red tape bearing the word “LIFE,” they were prevented from speaking any other words.

The effect was like an assault on people’s consciences…and though the students were armed only with their presence, they incurred the verbal attacks of passers-by.

For Jessica Ferris, a freshman at Western Michigan University, it was her first time taking part in a pro-life demonstration. “There were some people who drove by with thumbs up, others with their middle fingers up.”

“It was an interesting experience, said Nate VanKammen, a junior engineering major at Western. “When someone yells at you with condemnation, the first thing you want to do is shout and argue back. You want to condemn them. But we are standing there with our mouths taped shut and that eliminates the ability to do that. It is very humbling. It reminds us of what we are fighting for. The babies…they have no voices.”

Said Ferris, “There was a lot going through my head. It was uncomfortable. I thought about the times I was involved in days of silence for people who died from drugs and alcohol and felt the connection for the babies who were never born.”

A car full of young women drove by shouting, “We love abortion!” “It’s depressing,” said VanKammen, “that people can be so ignorant of reality…it is a sign of the depravity of the culture we live in.”

The “life tape” initiative, part of the Bound4LIFE movement, is meant to be more of a prayer than a protest. It began with a dream that one of the originators had during a time of prayer and fasting for the end of abortion. According to their website: “Believing the unusual dream to be divine strategy, the company of mostly young people stood in front of the United States Supreme Court in silent prayer with Life Tape. In their silence, their hearts became tender and broken as they identified with the silence of the pre-born.

According to the leaders of Bound4LIFE, the first effect of this prayer experience is internal. Standing at the site of the abortion clinic, participants join themselves with the helpless children in the womb and pray for them in solidarity. The second effect is on the community. Though silent and peaceful, the participants actively confront the community with a message that some do not want to hear: the truth that voiceless individuals, who want to live, are attacked and killed while many in the society just go by, allowing it to continue. There are also some who consider it a reason to attack those who want to protect life.

The group needs to carry no other sign. Each individual stands with the message that life wants to live. Even though their mouths are sealed tight, the prayer demonstration offers a profound way to speak up.

What will it take to end abortion on demand in America? VanKammen believes that it requires prayer. “The problem goes deep into the heart,” he says. “There is a spiritual component that the founders of the Bound4LIFE group saw. We need to pray and intercede for hearts and minds to be changed in the society”.

Students stand in silence before Planned Parenthood abortion clinic — Photo credit: Bethany Bolen

The group of students would like to see more people become involved in the movement to protect life. Said Ferris, “It is frustrating. There are a lot of people who justify it [abortion]; maybe they are sick of hearing about it or afraid of what people will think of them. They say that it should be a choice for others rather than to say it is a bad choice. I think this [prayer demonstration] is a good thing to do. People may think that it is convenient to have an abortion, but it would be better to get outside of yourself and think beyond yourself.”

The pro-life students believe in the power of intercession, backed by action. Said VanKammen, “It is important that the youth get involved especially now with the Supreme Court looking into ObamaCare. Because this is something that affects us!”

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