An exchange with new blog friend Dorothy in a recent post's comment thread has spurred me to write about something here that I've wanted to write about for some time, but realizing the potential firestorm, wanted to approach with caution. It's an issue that's near and dear to some who read here, and my intention isn't to offend. However, as I stated recently, we need to know why we believe what we believe and why we do what we do, and frankly, if we were to learn of the politics behind many of the things and movements we see as wholesome and "Christian", we'd be taken significantly aback.
Today, I want to take a look at Crisis Pregnancy Centers.
Let me go on the record and tell you that I consider abortion to be a human tragedy, and apart from medically necessary cases, I'm not a proponent of abortion on demand. That said, it absolutely ISN'T a litmus test for me in evaluating a political candidate. In case you guys haven't noticed, the vast majority of politicians are full of crap (I'd actually prefer the stronger word), and you need hip waders to listen to them speak - the crapola gets deeper with every step. The Religious Right had it's abortion nirvana during most of the last decade: conservative majorities in all three branches of government, and yet, no significant movement on the abortion issue - nor will there likely be in our lifetime. Our ridiculous primary process doesn't yield an electable candidate these days (I see it as impossible for it to do so), and in fact, seems to chew what little integrity and honesty that may once have resided in the candidate right out of them. Frankly, I could put more confidence in the reports we used to get from Baghdad Bob than in any political speech given during the election cycle.
Let me also go on record and say that not ALL CPCs engage in ethically and morally questionable practices, nor are the people they employ bad people. In fact, most who work and volunteer at CPCs would probably genuinely like to do some good.
What I want to do is look at the politics, motivations, and movements behind the CPC movement - things that even most of those involved with CPCs have no idea whatsoever about, and I'd like to look at some of the continuing practices of SOME CPCs. The fact is, the people responsible for the idea and movement of CPCs have created a cult all their own, using all of the manipulative and deceptive practices of acknowledged cult movements. In the course of this article, I'll be quoting from an article by the Crisis Pregnancy Center Watch. It should be noted that this entity has its own slant and bias, but the information they present is valid, even if the commentary they offer isn't. Decide for yourself what you find relevant.
The first CPC was opened in Hawaii, by Robert Pearson, in 1967. Soon thereafter, to help burgeon the movement, the Pearson Foundation was established to assist in the opening of other CPCs. It offered...
• Training sessions
• Slide shows - such as "Caring”: a 27-minute show that "includes many pictures
of bloody fetuses in waste cans and one of a gurney carrying a woman who is
apparently dead and is covered by a sheet. It ends by comparing abortion to the
• Discounted video equipment
• Kits to perform urine tests
• A manual entitled How to Start and Operate Your Own Pro-Life Outreach
Crisis Pregnancy Center
The Pearson manual "How to Start and Operate Your Own Pro-Life Outreach Crisis Pregnancy Center" was the Holy Bible of wisdom offered to CPCs. From the CPC Watch, among the instruction found in the manual is the following...
• Regarding when a caller asks if they provide abortion services, “there is nothing
wrong or dishonest if you don’t want to answer a question that may reveal your
pro-life position by changing the caller’s train of thought by asking a question in
• Recommends that staff answer the question “Are you a pro-life center?” with
“We are a pregnancy testing center... What is pro-life?”
• Instructs centers to use neutral advertising, to seek listings in the Yellow Pages
alongside abortion clinics and to adopt "dual names": one to "draw abortionbound women" and one to attract donations from people against abortion
• Advises when answering inquiries about their pregnancy tests (the same home
pregnancy tests available from a store), "Tell her it's a refined form of the old
rabbit test. This usually satisfies them. At no time do you need to tell them what
• Instructs staff to "never counsel for contraception"
• Cautions "do not tell the client that she is or is not pregnant." Instead, staff are
told to only say whether test results are positive or negative
• The manual reads, "[o]ur name of the game is to get the woman to come in as
do the abortion chambers. Be put off by nothing... Let nothing stop you. The
stakes are life or death."
Ouch. Seems to me it encourages combating what Pearson sees as evil with...more evil.
According to CPC Watch, Pearson eventually admitted, publically, his desire to deceive...
Robert Pearson has publicly admitted this deception; in a 1994 speech, he responded,
“obviously, we’re fighting Satan... A killer, who in this case is the girl who wants to
kill her baby, has no right to information that will help her kill her baby. Therefore,
when she calls and says, ‘Do you do abortions?’ we do not tell her, No, we don’t do
This doesn't speak well of CPCs beginnings, nor of the sociopolitical intentions of those behind the CPC movement.
My question to those who staunchly support the CPC movement is this: If Jesus had been tangibly, physically present when these statements were made, or when this manual was constructed - and implemented in practice in individual CPCs - would it have been spoken, written, and practiced the same way? I think we can all agree that it wouldn't.
Now...Think long and hard about that last paragraph, and then, tell me, with something more than feigned conviction, that Jesus was spiritually present when those things were spoken, written, and practiced.
Later, Focus on the Family became increasingly involved with CPCs - another notch against them from my perspective. FotF is entirely a dominionist organization, which, despite whatever good it may have accomplished, has spent much of its resources over the years trying to bully legislation through local, state, and federal legislatures which would force non-Christians to behave like Christians, along with trying to destroy the candidacies of any politician who wouldn't bow down to the god of FotF's sociopolitical agenda. My distaste for all things James Dobson runs pretty deep.
Perhaps CPCs have become less of a hyper-fundamentalist sociopolitical entity over the years. Less deceptive. More forthright. I hope so, but I don't know so, and from what I can see, it doesn't look promising. Dorothy's experience is evidence of elements of hyper-fundamentalist weirdness still being pretty palpable. It also seems that the workers/volunteers of choice that are targeted are young, naive, and religiously idealistic young women from various branches of QF and fundamentalism, attracting them with the notion that they'll be "saving babies". For instance, one of my ex's sisters now serves as "Director of Ministry" at a CPC (I can tell you, firsthand, that the guy who oversees this particular CPC is a P/QF fundamentalist fruitcake and snake). There are few people on the planet more green and naive than my ex's sister. She literally knows nothing about anything in life, and is at least 10 years emotionally behind her late 20s age. She shouldn't be counseling ANYONE in such a life altering situation as a young woman with an unexpected pregnancy. I repeat - she's the "Director of Ministry" at a Crisis Pregnancy Center.
If CPCs are open and upfront about the services they provide and don't provide, about their sociopolitical/religious motivations when asked, and don't attempt to pass themselves off deceptively and cosmetically as a legitimate health care facility, I'm all for them.
If they rely on misdirection, deception, the withholding of information, nouthetic counseling, and spiritual and emotional abuses to "save babies"...I'm pretty sure Jesus ain't involved.
If you're faced with an unexpected pregnancy, and a counseling center skirts around your questions over the phone and begs you to "come in to receive more information and counseling", call someone else, and keep calling until you find someone forthright and honest.
I read a statement similar to the one I'm getting ready to make elsewhere this week (I can't remember where, so if you're reading this, let me know so I can credit you)...It's a crying shame that there's a large section of fundamentalism in which a child diminishes in value the second it enters into life outside of the womb. I mean, their God loves unborn babies, but is more than willing to send a 10 year old from a third world country (who has never heard of Him) to eternal torment. That's quite a conflicted deity.