Have you ever been threatened with losing your job because of your pro-life stance? Probably most of us haven’t been faced with this challenge, but it is something that happens on a regular basis to pro-life students on our University campuses in Canada.These students face a great deal of harassment on campuses, from opposition to their clubs in formal and informal ways, to threats of expulsion and lawsuits.
Much has been written about how campuses are becoming more and more closed to ideas which might challenge cultural norms. Recently I read an excellent article on Education Dogma (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/blackwhiteandgray/2015/05/education-dogma/) by George Yancey on the Patheos blog which clarified for me exactly what is going on at our campuses today. He makes the point that there are several of these cultural norms (what he calls education dogma) that must not be questioned on campuses, including the following:
A rape culture exists on university campuses
Fundamentalist Christians are morally the same as Muslim terrorists
The earth is getting dramatically warmer due to human activity and altering that activity can stop or slow this trend
Marriage between those of the same sex should be seen as the same as marriage between those of different sexes
A woman has a right to an abortion for whatever reason she chooses
Black men are targeted by the police
Raising taxes on the wealthy will improve our economy
Political conservatives are either greedy manipulators exploiting the marginalized or sincere dupes voting against their own economic interests
Criticism of Islam as a religion of terrorism is an example of Islamophobia
There are quite a few others, but you get the idea. The point is not so much that these ideas are “right” or “wrong”, but rather that any dissenting views to these ideas are not allowed on campuses. This is a great shift to the traditional view that a University is a place where a student’s pre-conceived assumptions would be challenged in order to force them to think through their beliefs. Now it seems there are certain pre-conceived assumptions that must never be challenged, if they are ones which agree with the prevailing culture’s ideas.
With all this in mind, how do we as local pro-life groups support the students who are on the front-line of the culture wars in our country? Here’s a few ideas:
Pray for students you know who are in University. Ultimately this is a spiritual battle. Pray for courage, grace and love as they spread the pro-life message on their campuses.
Invite students out to speak at your pro-life events. In Drayton Valley we have done this a couple of times, and people have been very encouraged and empowered after hearing the students speak about their experiences. Too often the older generation has the impression that the young people have no interest in picking up the pro-life torch and running with it. Seeing these students is a real shot in the arm to people who have been in the movement for decades. It is also encouraging to the students to know that the greater pro-life community is aware of their struggles and is supporting them.
Give to campus pro-life clubs - financial support is also very helpful to these students. And if your local campus club is involved in a legal battle with their Universities, donations to their legal fund can be very welcome.
Sponsor a student or two to attend the National Campus Pro-Life Network’(NCLN)’s symposium, held every fall in Ottawa. This symposium gives pro-life students a boost as the school year begins, and helps to equip them to do pro-life work on their campuses. Sponsoring a student for an internship through Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform’s summer internship program is also a great idea. Or what about finding a local youth or two that you could sponsor to go to the local or National March for Life in the spring?
Give to NCLN - This national organization does marvellous work in supporting, training, and organizing campus pro-life clubs. Any donation to them will help them do this work which is so badly needed.
Our pro-life students are facing incredible pressures in the midst of trying to get an education. They are trying to influence the hearts and minds of tomorrow’s leaders. Let’s do all we can to support and encourage them!