There's a lot that I could say about what the March for Life was like, but there was one thing that was very, very striking: everyone there was Catholic.
I don't mean among the speakers: among those that spoke at the rallies/events there were Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, and Jews, in addition to many who didn't identify their religion. In fact, probably the most rousing, passionate speaker at the rally immediately before the march was an african-american protestant preacher.
But in the crowd - which was several hundred thousand people - it appeared as though almost every single person there was Catholic, and I'm not exaggerating. Every single thing (with one exception, explained below) that I saw that identified a group or a person's religion was Catholic: Knights of Columbus signs, hats or sweatshirts with the name of a diocese or parish, buses with the names of Catholic schools on the side, banners representing Catholic universities; people holding rosaries, crucifixes, or images of our Blessed Mother; more priests in collars and monks and religious sisters in habits than I've ever seen before in my life. And it's not like there weren't many things around that identified a person's religion; the crowd was saturated with these things.
Among the tables in the March for Life exhibit hall, most of the organizations were overtly Catholic, with some of the tables being manned by monks or religious sisters, and some selling icons, rosaries, and other Catholic things; and many of the people working at the tables that I spoke to were Catholic (some of whom were converts to Catholicism like myself). None were overtly identifiable as being related to another Christian denomination or religion that I can remember.
|The rally before the march; one can see signs|
for Knights of Columbus, St Jude Catholic
School, Holy Sepulcher Parish,
and the Archdiocese of Hartford, et al.
Am I exaggerating when I say that every single mark of religion was Catholic? Ok, I admit it, there was one exception: I saw one person holding a Jewish pro-life sign in the crowd at the march. But that's it (and I'm not exaggerating here).
And I looked, too. Since I was there by myself, I could move freely throughout the crowd to get a bigger perspective of who was there. When it became obvious that every hat, sweatshirt, bus, sign, and banner that I had seen so far was Catholic, I spent the rest of the rally and march actively looking for any marker of other religions or Christian denominations. The one Jewish sign is the only thing I could find (this of course does not prove no other signs existed).
As I've been slowly delving further into the pro-life movement in the last year or so, it has certainly come to appear as though the majority of the people in involved are Catholic (please feel free to correct me on this in the comments).
The main pro-life activist organization in the Twin Cities near where I live is run by a Catholic, and once when I heard him describe the organization, he indicated that, although the organization is non-denominational, something like 75% of the people involved are Catholic. The big ecumenical prayer service in the Twin Cities held on the anniversary of Roe v Wade every year is held in the Cathedral of St Paul (granted, it's a big space and just down the street from the state capital where they do a march afterwards).
A local ecumenical prayer service (for those who can't drive down to the Twin Cities) on the same day is run by one of our parishioners. Our local Life Chain event is also run by one of our parishioners. My wife recently started volunteering at a local Birthright office after being encouraged to get involved by one of our parishioners, and she has often commented at how many of the volunteers are from our parish.
|UnPlanned, by Abby Johnson|
Were there Christians of other denominations, people of other religions, and even people of no religion at all at the march? I'm sure there were (it was a big crowd). And there are of course many evangelicals, and other non-Catholics, who have fought the evil of abortion courageously, and I do not mean to diminish their work and sacrifice. Neither do I mean to imply that because the pro-life movement seems to consist primarily of Catholics that therefore Catholicism is the one true religion.
But I do mean to offer a challenge to my evangelical brothers and sisters in Christ: where were you? It was my first time at the march, and so I could be asking myself a similar question: where was I before?
I can honestly say that becoming Catholic has brought the pro-life cause much more into my view. At the baptist church I went to with my family in high school and at the evangelical school Wheaton College that I attended for undergrad, many people I knew would have said that they were pro-life, and I knew a few people who were very passionately pro-life and involved in pro-life activities. But frankly, compared to how often abortion has been brought up to me since being in Catholic circles, there wasn't much going on.
And when it's brought up in Catholic circles, it's different too, since the belief that abortion is a very grave moral evil that must be stopped has been a very prominent, clear, authoritative teaching of the Church. In other words, if one wants to take being Catholic seriously, one has to take abortion seriously.
|The Holy Family|
And so I encourage my evangelical brothers and sisters in Christ to more fully mobilize their great passion, creativity, and resources for the pro-life cause, and I thank those evangelicals who have long been in the trenches. I also exhort my fellow Catholics, that more of us would join in the pro-life cause and that we would better keep our fellow Catholics accountable. Together, we can finally abolish abortion and build a culture of life.
---------------------------------Below is a great video of young people at the March for Life 2012 explaining why they are pro-life; produced by the BadCatholic Marc Barnes