Rebuke Injustice with the Force of Law: Divided Hearts of America
In the desert, the devil tried to tempt Jesus Christ Himself by trotting out scripture quotes. Even the best maxims, from divinely inspired authors, can be misused and turned to evil. That’s what I recall when putative “pro-lifers” choose the eve of a life-changing election to suddenly remind us “Politics is downstream of culture.” Sometimes they’ll get really Classical and produce a quote from Plato: “Give me the songs of the city and I care not who writes the laws.”
As someone who has spent the past 20 years making, producing, and distributing films that affirm the sanctity of life and defend the vulnerable, I have an answer. “Ya think?”
Art Builds the Road, But You Need the Courage to Walk It
It took decades of solemn movies decrying racism, and thousands of news stories in the national press to shame white Americans about segregation and legal racism. Those culture-moving productions helped prepare the way for the Civil Rights Act of 1965.
But what should a black American have said to someone who told him, in that era, not to support that law — because culture, not law, was crucial to rectifying injustice? What did Civil Rights leaders think of those who opposed anti-racist laws, insisting instead on only “building anti-racist culture”?
We actually have the answer. Rev. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” was aimed at “white moderates” who denied their black fellow citizens the remedy of law. Instead they should rely on “changing hearts.”
Moderately Opposed to Injustice
As Rev. King wrote, the
great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time; and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”
I agree with Rev. King. Today the roadblock holding us back from protecting unborn children is not so much the abortion profiteers, like Kermit Gosnell and Planned Parenthood. It’s the tepid, half-convinced pro-lifer who doesn’t really believe what his words plainly say.
If you believe that abortion is the killing of innocent children, of course you want the law to ban such a wicked, cruel practice. If you believe it isn’t, then why should you even want the culture to discourage it? Why not leave women alone?
Perhaps the cruelest possible stance to take is this half-way position. You claim that abortion is not quite so bad that you want the government to ban it. You want to let almost a million women per year go ahead and do it. But then you want movies, TV, books, and social media to make them feel terrible about having done so.
Shout Your Abortion? Few Want To.
Pro-choicers have followed this logic to its endpoint. That’s why they’re goading women to “shout their abortions.” If it’s such a wholesome, natural practice, why not shout it—the way people shout their everythings these days, from their favorite microbrew to their sex change operations.
But the natural law written on the human heart says otherwise. And not many women are actually happy or proud of having abortions. Millions have broken hearts. Our job as pro-life advocates isn’t to rub salt in their wounds. It’s to use the law to stop the abortion industry from carving up more human hearts, as we use the police to stop thieves from holding up banks. The law is a powerful teacher, and ought to serve the powerless.
Change Enough Hearts to Change the Law
That’s the purpose of humane art, to change enough hearts that we can change the laws, and stop the cycle of heartbreak. And that’s why I’m proud both to be active in this year’s presidential election, and of my latest work with Movie to Movement. At this crucial time for our nation, we have just released a powerful new film.
Divided Hearts of America reminds our nation at this critical time of the importance of America’s Declaration principle. Our country’s existence wasn’t justified on self-interest, raw power, or mindless tribalism. No, the men who risked bankruptcy and hanging to declare its independence explicitly made their case for a whole new country on theological grounds. Man is made to be free, with rights no one may tread on, because he’s the image of God.
Touch It and Die
Abraham Lincoln, who did more than anyone to apply this principle universally to all Americans, said sagely that the Constitution was a sturdy, well-crafted frame. But the artwork it protected was the Declaration of Independence.
The central truth of America, which drove its founders, and Abolitionists, and Suffragettes, Civil Rights activists, and pro-lifers is simple, profound, and timeless. Man is the child of God, and as such shares in His inviolable dignity. Each innocent human life is the Ark of the Covenant: touch it and die.