Friends For Life Boot Camp – Combating Moral Relativism

Posted By on August 15, 2011

On July 15-16, the Fort Wayne Chapter of Lutherans for Life co-sponsored the seventh annual Fort Wayne Friends for Life Boot Camp to equip high school and college students with tools to effectively articulate their views in a world of moral relativism that tries to suppress and intimidate against the pro life message. This year’s camp, held at The University of St. Francis, was the largest ever, having grown from 25 students in the first camp to 120 students this year.   The increase in attendance included a growth in the number of students outside the Fort Wayne Area, coming from all over Indiana and Ohio. According to Mike Spencer, moderator of Friday’s  kickoff, “There has been a resurgence in interest in apologetics, especially pro life apologetics. This is an exciting age of idealism mixed with activism.  The abortion industry doesn’t have anything like this camp, especially for teens. Students are hungry for the tools.  The body of Christ is bringing up a generation of young lions.” 

An audience of about 250 attended the Friday evening kick-off event which was open to the public.  In the introductory remarks, Spencer asked, “…if I had been in Germany during the Holocaust, or if I had been here in the United States during the Civil Rights movement, what would I have done then?  …. How we respond now in support of the preborn may give an indication of how we would have responded then…” 

The opening speaker was Lila Rose, a recent UCLA graduate and founder/president of Live Action, who began by describing what led her to film undercover videos in Planned Parenthood clinics, and form the organization Live Action. As one of eight kids raised to love life as a Christian, she first became aware of the abortion issue at age nine when she came upon the Handbook of Abortion and was shaken by the pictures in it.  She then discovered there was an abortion clinic only ten miles from her home, performing 30 abortions per week.  At age 15, she convinced her church group to let her make a presentation about abortion.  When she became a student at UCLA, she noticed there were no pregnant girls on campus. She decided to investigate by doing an undercover project, going to the UCLA health clinic. Posing as a pregnant student she was shocked to hear the nurse say the school would not support pregnant girls and her only option was to get an abortion.  Recognizing the hopelessness of this for the girls on campus, she then published what the nurse said and distributed it all over the campus.  A few months later she recorded her first undercover video, going to a Planned Parenthood clinic, posing as an abuse victim. 

She then discussed some of Live Action’s findings from subsequent undercover video projects at Planned Parenthood and presented a video from which clips have been shown and discussed extensively by the media and in many legislatures in recent months.  She pointed out several distortions of the truth in Planned Parenthood’s comments over the last several months since the Live Action videos have been released and legislative actions have been taken to defund Planned Parenthood.  For example, Planned Parenthood claims that mammograms are included in the other services they provide.  But investigation indicates none of the Planned Parenthood clinics has the equipment to do mammograms.  She said one reason the Live Action videos have had such an impact it the use of social media which bypass the networks.  Media such as facebook can’t be censored.  She indicated the Live Action site is the one most hit by young people. 

Rose also said Indiana is one of the states leading the legislation to defund Planned Parenthood.  She urged  the attendees to sign a petition defending Indiana’s right to defund Planned Parenthood.

Urging the audience to lovingly provide people the truth, she said the people that need the most help are the ones that get the most angry – they need our prayers.  Rose closed with a quote from mother Teresa – “Abortion is the greatest destroyer of peace in the world.” 

Scott Klusendorf, who is founder and president of the Life Training Institute, followed Rose with an overview of how the pro life message can compete in the marketplace of ideas if properly understood and articulated in a gracious and bold manner.

He discussed the SLED test used in philosophy to show that there is no morally significant difference between the embryo you once were and the adult you are today that would justify killing you at an earlier stage.

  • Size:  You were smaller as an embryo, but since when does your body size determine your value?  Are large humans more valuable than small ones?
  • Level of Development:  You were less developed as an embryo, but two year olds are less developed than teenagers.  Do teens have a greater right to life?
  • Environment:  Where you are has no bearing on what you are.  How does a journey of eight inches down the birth canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn?
  • Degree of Dependency:  You depended on your mother for survival, but since when does dependence on another human mean we can kill you?

Klusendorf discussed how pro choice advocates change the subject and intimidate you into silence through a moral relativism world view (right and wrong depend on your viewpoint). In moral relativism, you have no right to impose your views; you must trust others to think for themselves.  Moral relativists claim they are being neutral. They use the tolerance trick, such as “Don’t claim that your idea is better!”  How dare you judge anyone!”

He then identified three weaknesses of moral relativism:

  1. It is self defeating. Statements are self contradictory.
  2. It is not neutral. They are imposing their views and judging you.
  3. It can’t tell you what is right or wrong.  It can’t tell difference between Mother Teresa and Hitler.

Klusendorf said an effective way to combat moral relativism is through the use of questions.  For example, the next time someone says, “Don’t impose your views on me”, say “Why not?”  This will invariably result in a response of them trying to impose their views on you.  In United States, a citizen has the right and duty to propose views.

Klusendorf concluded his presentation at Friday’s kickoff by saying,  “The job of pro life advocacy is not to close the deal, it is to put pebbles in the shoe. Arguments are not won on the spot, they are won 2-3 weeks later when they realize what happened.  The objective is not to memorize and not to refute, it’s to put pebbles in the shoe.”  He pointed out that “The war to defend the unborn won’t be won by professionals; it will be won by this new generation of selfless heroes communicating in a winsome manner.  ”

Saturday’s sessions focused on how to make the case for life in specific situations.  The morning classes were split into two tracks:  Course 101, Pro-life Basics, led by Seth Drayer , and Course 201, Advanced Pro-Life Apologetics,  led by Klusendorf.  Saturday afternoon was comprised of several small group and breakout sessions.

The impact on students was obvious. 

  • A student from Indianapolis said, “This is eye opening, I didn’t realize how bad it is.  We have to stand up for life.”
  • A student from Fort Wayne said, “Every student should go through hearing this at least once in their life….”
  • A student from Scottsburg said, “This is great, exactly what is needed.  It will help me express my views.”
  • A student from northwest Indiana, who traveled four hours to attend, said, “More people should come, even those who have doubts about the issue.  It’s shocking to hear what’s going on.  This will help me plant seeds in discussions.”
  • A student from Churubusco said, “This is truthful, covering both sides of the issue.  It’s providing me with the tools I need to defend life.”
  • A student from Ohio said, “Glad I came.  Will help me ask the right questions.  The scenarios are very helpful.”

References: – petition defending Indiana’s right to defund Planned Parenthood

Scott Klusendorf, The Case for Life, 2009, Crossway Books – a summary of pro life basics – Advanced Pro-Life Apologetics

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