From Apathy to Action

okforlife Abolition, Pro-Life

OUL Director John Michener was asked to share how he got involved in fighting abortion full-time. “It all started when, like in the GEICO commercial, I was raised in a snow globe,” he said. Here is the rest of the story.

Everything was perfect and beautiful.  I had two parents who were, and still are, married to each other.  They loved us kids.  Mom prepared three meals a day and made sure we could read, write, and do our times tables.  Dad worked to pay for everything and made sure we knew how to mow the grass and change the oil.  They both took us to church every time the doors were open and modeled Christian living and service.  Life growing up was idyllic.

In fact, I did not know any sinners.  Sure, our congregation had a token alcoholic, but that was it.  It was not until I left home for college that I began to understand the corruption of the human heart.  Away from home, church, and a homogenous military community, I came face to face with racism, discrimination, envy, and petty Christian sectarianism.  It was out in the real world that I began to see that each one of us is beset with sin.  Finally, my own pride showed sharp and clear in the mirror.

My snow globe was shattered, and I needed to decide how I was going to respond to being confronted and convicted with the truth about myself and the world.  So, I determined that I would seek the truth in all things, even if it hurt, and I dedicated myself to authentic living in light of the truth.  Faced with a realization of the truth, I would ask myself, “Knowing what I know now, how should I reorder my life and work around this truth?”

OUL Director John Michener discusses abortion with students at Oklahoma University.

In January 2007 I saw an eighteen-foot-tall graphic abortion exhibit.  As I walked around the exhibit, I began discussing abortion with students who passed by.  After only two hours of conversation, I broke down crying and wondering if I would be able to regroup.  You see, I had talked with more than a dozen students, and each one had experience with abortion:  I had one… have one scheduled… my friend… my girlfriend…  Over and over came the stories and callous, casual references to abortion, sweeping over me like crushing waves.  For the first time I fully understood there was an American holocaust taking place.  To my knowledge I had never met anyone who had had an abortion.  The million plus abortions performed in a year was just an abstract figure to me.  Like a number from the federal budget, it meant nothing—zero emotional impact.  But now the staggering number was finally real.  So this is how it happens over three thousand times per day.  My snow globe was shattered all over again.

I asked myself, “Knowing what I know now, how should I reorder my life and work around this truth?”  For the next three years, I became a hyper-volunteer, spending all my free time and vacation time talking to others about abortion.

Then a friend pointed out that for many, abortion is a full-time job.  She asked, “Who is working full-time to stop it?”  Her question forced me to ask myself once again how I should live, and that is when I began to fight abortion fulltime.

At that point in my ministry, I believed that if we taught enough people the truth about abortion, it would change the culture, and thus the law.  After all, public policy reflects the will of the people.  Therefore, for many years I focused all my effort on training others to join me in rescuing as many preborn babies from death and saving as many born people from guilt as possible.  My view on stopping abortion could be illustrated by Loren Eisley’s short story, The Star Thrower, in which an idealistic boy rescues starfish one at a time, even though there is no hope of rescuing the thousands of starfish stranded down miles of beach.

Like that young boy, I continued my focus on individual starfish until I found myself on the beaches of the Florida Keys in the summer of 2012.  You might be imagining pristine white sands, but that is not the natural state of Atlantic beaches before the sun rises.  Every night the surf washes up piles of dead seaweed along the shore.  It stinks, and it attracts swarming flies.  So, when you show up later, why is it pristine?  Where is all the refuse?  Early in the morning, a tractor rakes it all up…and that is when God showed me yet another truth.

We can save all those starfish, but we will never do it one at a time.  We need a tractor.  In Florida local government agencies own and operate the tractors that clean up the beaches.  What one person cannot accomplish alone, everyone can do together through the collective power of government.  That tractor represents the government’s power to enforce the law.  So I asked, “Knowing what I know now, how should I reorder my life and work around this truth?”  How do we fire up the government tractor to save preborn children from abortion?

While still working to rescue individual starfish, I began examining how to influence pro-life legislation.  I learned how it is written and advanced.  In the fall of 2014, I founded Oklahomans United for Life with the intent to provide clear communication to the people of Oklahoma and our magistrates regarding abortion policy.  It was this new ministry that brought me face to face with pro-life politics and pro-life politicians.  Upon closer examination, I began to realize that most pro-life politicians do not actually believe abortion is murder, and even those that do often believe lies about how to change public policy.

My rude awakening came with the passage of House Bill 147, a supposed ban on dismemberment abortions.  However, because of the wording of the bill, it would not actually prevent any abortions.  Out of 147 legislators, every Republican voted for it, and 30 out of 36 Democrats voted for it.  Later that year, grassroots conservatives rewarded those legislators who voted for this worthless bill.  It was this experience that finally showed me The Cozy Arrangement between pro-life lobbyists and GOP leaders.  Together they use abortion as a political football to score points.  Pro-life lobbyists “fight” for these bills so pro-lifers will keep donating, and Republican legislators claim victory with each passed bill so that constituents will keep them in office.  But year after year abortion continues.

So, once again, I asked how I should reorder my life and work.  I realized that Christians should not support fake pro-life bills, but only those measures that would actually abolish abortion.  The following year I went to work on two bills that I thought were worthy of support.  One of them was not all-inclusive like the other, but it would have closed our abortion death camps, and the governor promised to sign it.  However, she vetoed it, and the legislature ran away without even voting to override the veto.

This experience with the legislature and the governor opened my eyes yet again.  I could see clearly the political theater being produced for the pro-life masses.  The legislative process is like a professional sport, with its regular season, playoffs, and Superbowl.  No one pays much attention early on, but as pro-life bills make their way through the process, pro-life news services begin to report on pending legislation all over the country.  As the bills advance closer to the Superbowl of the governor’s desk, the excitement ramps up and fans become frenzied.  Then the governor signs (or vetoes) the bill.  Touchdown!  We win!

But wait, there is more.  What is the actual result of all that energy and enthusiasm?  All anyone has done is write words on paper.  Courts throw the paper out, and no one has closed a death camp or made an arrest.  In fact, no one is even willing to stop the bloodshed.

On the campaign trail with Dan Fisher for Governor.

What I learned is that nothing will ever change without executive leadership.  If someone is attacking your wife, do you approach him waving a copy of the statute against assault and battery?  Do you want a legislator, or someone with a gun?  Only executives have the power to abolish abortion.  As it turns out, abortion is already against the highest laws of our land, our federal and state constitutions.  So, I asked, “What do I do with this truth?”

Fortunately, I was not the only one who figured out the importance of executive leadership.  Pastor Dan Fisher ran for governor of Oklahoma on a platform to abolish abortion, and I was able to volunteer for his campaign.  He understood that a governor has the power to shut down deathcamps.  An Attorney General can arrest those committing abortion and charge them under the state’s homicide code.  Again, the key to abolition lies in the executive branch.  Without executive leadership, the legislative process is nothing more than posturing and political theater.

In conclusion, if something is true, how should we reorder our lives, our work, and our strategies around that truth?  We must spend time, talent, and treasure seeking a governor who will champion the cause.  We must call governors to repent or replace them with ones who will uphold the law.  Until we get an executive leader, we will never abolish abortion.

How should you reorder your life?  Should you occasionally address the sin of abortion in your church congregation?  Should you occasionally rally to the capitol for something other than a pay increase for government workers?  Should you occasionally ask your governor to stop the bloodshed?  I hope that in this story you might see reflections of your own journey or see that you need to begin such a journey yourself.

This article was based on a presentation given at Operation Save America’s national conference in July 2019.