An outstanding hallmark of the pro-life movement is its diversity. Our movement boasts advocates from every walk of life, cultural background, religious affiliation, and political stance. We have groups that advocate traditional marriage and pro-life views simultaneously, and those groups coexist with organizations like Alive! Gay Pro-Life. We have Democrats for Life and RNC for Life and Marriage. We have Feminists for Life and Students for Life. In short: the defense of life is a cause that appeals to every kind of human, everywhere.
Pro-life activist Josh Brahm recognized this profound diversity, as well as the challenges that can come along with being a pro-life melting pot. After an intense week of brainstorming with his brother, Tim, and many months of thinking through logistics, Josh has launched the Equal Rights Institute. In a blog post introducing the Institute, Josh explains the mission of the ERI:
We’re going to help pro-life people to think clearly and communicate better with pro-choice people. Do I think that’s a silver bullet for ending abortion? No. There are no easy or quick methods to end abortion. Helping the pro-life movement communicate with the best arguments we have to offer is not a sufficient condition for ending abortion, but I think it’s probably a necessary one.
Josh Brahm has worked to train pro-lifers in critical thinking and the interpersonal aspect of the abortion debate for years. Until recently, he worked with his local Right to Life affiliate, and from there he was able to have a strong impact on a local level. Founding the ERI will allow him to take this same work across the country.
Josh advocates civil and logical discussions that go beyond stating the differences between the two sides of the abortion debate. Josh’s mission is to cultivate honest, truth-seeking conversation about the issue, and train pro-lifers in relational apologetics. Spend five minutes reading social media comments about an abortion debate, and you’ll quickly realize that there can be vitriol, personal attacks, and illogical arguments on both sides. Josh wants to equip pro-lifers to harness their passion for life while keeping their arguments consistent, respectful, clear, and factual.
Josh touched base with us to share some of the exciting details of the new organization, to expand on how the idea came to be, and to share more about his approach. We asked Josh to speak to how he is able to balance being open about his own Christianity, while still making people of all religious and non-religious backgrounds feel included when he writes and speaks.
I think it’s really important for Christians to learn how to interact with people of other faiths or no faith without needlessly offending them.
My friend Monica from Secular Pro-Life is an agnostic and came to a seminar I led recently and she felt very comfortable. That’s because we were very purposeful about the way we facilitated that seminar. I recognized them from the front in the beginning and welcomed them. I explained that every once in a while in the seminar “religion would happen” and to feel like they’re listening in on a family conversation. Whenever we prayed we would start by saying, “Pray with me if you follow Christ.” Little things like that make a huge difference. You can read Monica’s reflections about how she felt as an agnostic at that event here.
Oftentimes pro-life atheists feel like outsiders at pro-life events because they’re treated like outsiders. This is a problem because the pro-life movement needs all the help we can get! We need pro-life atheists and agnostics. We need pro-life Mormons. We need pro-life people from the LGBT community. Will people get uncomfortable sometimes? Sure, but that’s what happens when people from different backgrounds come together for a common cause and do something great together.
We asked Josh whether we can expect to continue hearing him on the Life Report podcast.
We’re considering starting a podcast, but we wouldn’t do it until next year at the earliest. On one hand a lot of people first began following me through my work on Life Report. On the other hand, I was getting better measurable results through blogging, so I’ve chosen to keep blogging and put off podcasting for now. It wouldn’t surprise me if we started an Equal Rights Institute podcast in a few years, but we would only do it if we could meet all of our other goals, and if we believed that the podcast would bring enough value to the pro-life movement. I started Life Report when there was only one other pro-life podcast. Now there are a lot of them, so the need for another pro-life podcast is less great than it was six years ago.
Currently, the Equal Rights Institute is a pending (c)(3), meaning that the nonprofit is awaiting the IRS’s final “rubber stamp” on the paperwork, but Josh projects that the organization will be fully approved and operational by the end of the year. Visit The Equal Rights Institute to learn more.