Simplify the message and win over hearts—life advocate on effectively engaging the culture

Simplify the message and win over hearts—life advocate on effectively engaging the culture (Anne Marie Weakley, Pregnancy Decision Health Centers)

Scott Klusendorf has a powerful yet simple message to share. You might read it in one of his books, learn it in a seminar, hear it in a podcast, or experience Klusendorf as a featured keynote speaker at a pro-life event or fundraiser.

Klusendorf’s message is a challenge to speak truth on behalf of the unborn within your circle of influence and community. 

Have you ever thought about what the church in Germany was doing during the Jewish holocaust? Are those thoughts criticism for their tolerance? Could you project those same thoughts onto us all here and now as the holocaust of the unborn rages on?

Klusendorf eloquently points out how the pro-life community has been ineffective in swaying our neighbors, friends and often family members because we fail to understand the core issue. The issue has been permitted to become confusing and complex. This issue is not at all complex.

Klusendorf stays on message with great discipline—the true heart of the debate. 

“Can we kill the unborn?” Klusendorf wrote in The Case for Life, “Yes, I think we can if. If what? If the unborn are not human beings.”

Klusendorf is president of Life Training Institute, where he trains pro-life advocates to defend their views. He has been featured by Focus on the Family, Truths That Transform, and American Family Radio.

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At Pregnancy Decision Health Centers’ (PDHC) 2023 Gala in Columbus, Ohio, Klusendorf was featured as guest speaker. He used an example of whether your son or grandson entered the kitchen asking you, “Can I kill this?” 

“How would you answer?” he asked.

Obviously more information is required. You may need to turn around and see what “this” is—it could be a bug; it could be his little brother. To say “yes” without knowing the answer would be ridiculous if not outright irresponsible.

Klusendorf’s book has additional scenarios which mimic conversations perhaps common to most of our experiences. Whether you relish conflict or abhor it, the truth is we are responsible to engage the world around us and he has simplified the debate while diffusing the potential for heated rhetoric.

“The good news is, you don’t have to surrender in silence,” Klusendorf stated. “There’s a better way. Simplify the debate by focusing on the one question that truly matters. What is the unborn?”

In Life is Best documentaries, Klusendorf demonstrates engaging with individuals using this singular focus on the unborn. Pro-abortion individuals, and even those who do not identify as not “personally pro-abortion” are readily steeped in rhetoric which automatically ignores the unborn as human beings.

Once faced with the reality of this assumption, with calm questions and reflective listening, seeds can be planted in the hearts of individuals.

Even the argument that abortion must be legal to keep it “safe” for women who will otherwise seek out back-alley abortions can be revealed for what it is as stated by Klusendorf, “claiming that because some people will die attempting to kill others, the state should make it safe and legal for them to do so.”

Klusendorf told the PDHC supporters the grave reality of our failure so far to sway the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans is currently damaging voting campaigns on abortion law state to state. 

He made a similar statement in a 2022 interview, “Our fundamental problem right now is not the press. It’s not judges. It’s that the American people, by and large, do not agree with us.”

He described pro-abortion views throughout the country as “deeply ingrained in our deeply entrenched culture.”

Peggy Hartshorn, founder of PDHC and Chair of the Board at Heartbeat International, also spoke at the gala. She offered information about the upcoming battle in Ohio over the November ballot Issue 1 which magnified the importance of Klusendorf’s challenge to the pro-life community. 

Klusendorf’s approach is simple, yet he cautioned advocates while we do want to speak this truth with our neighbors, family, and friends, do not expect instantaneous transition to the pro-life position. As he noted to the PDHC audience, it is more akin to putting a pebble in a person’s shoe. 

Truth is always enough; you don’t have to be proven right on the spot. Plant the seed and trust the Holy Spirit to work on the person’s heart. The same approach that Christ followers have used through the centuries to spread the Gospel will also open the eyes of people to see the unborn as human, with a right to life.

At the March for Life, UK Klusendorf challenged marchers, “We need to have the confidence to make our case persuasively.”

Using the acronym SLED, he teaches that philosophically there is not a morally significant difference between the embryo you once were and the adult you have become. Size, Level of development, Environment, Degree of dependency are the common arguments. 

If we allow size to equal value and men are generally larger than women, does these mean men deserve more rights? Of course not. 

If we use level of development to determine value, then should older children have more rights and protections than their younger siblings? Of course not.

If we use environment to gauge value, then does your personal value change when you change locations? Of course not.

If degree of dependency dictates human value, then those dependent on insulin or other lifesaving medicines could be discriminated against. This of course is also clearly ridiculous.

Yet all four of these issues are applied to the unborn in regard to determining their value and we must refute this fallacy with logical questions pointing out the undeniable humanity of the unborn.

“In short, you didn’t come from an embryo. You once were an embryo,” wrote Klusendorf. “At no point in your prenatal development did you undergo a substantial change or change of nature.”

The science is clear, from conception the embryo has a unique chromosomal structure from his or her parents. This is a human because he or she has the genetic constitution characteristic of human beings.

Challenging others to consider how degrading the humanity of the unborn as a cluster of cells is in fact their denial of logic. Human parents produce human offspring.

“Most importantly, the embryo is a complete or whole human organism rather than part of another living entity,” stated Klusendorf.

“The issue that divides us is just one question: What is the unborn?” he noted. 

“Let me be clear: If the unborn is a human being, killing him or her to benefit others is a serious moral wrong,” Klusendorf said. “It treats the distinct human being, with his or her own inherent moral worth, as nothing more than a disposable instrument.”

He continued, “Conversely, if the unborn are not human, killing them through elective abortion requires no more justification than having your tooth pulled.”

The Klusendorf strategy: first simplify, then argue. One question: What is the unborn? 

He advised pro-life advocates:

“Don’t worry that you can’t change everyone’s mind. Truth is, hard-core abortion-choicers are not your primary customers. You’re after the 60 percent of Americans in the mushy middle who think of themselves as ‘pro-choice’ because they’ve never thought seriously about the choice they’re advocating.”

Tweet This: Don’t worry that you can’t change everyone’s mind. Truth is, hard-core abortion-choicers are not your primary customers.

“Your job,” according to Klusendorf, “is to bring clarification and get them thinking.”

In the final pages of Klusendorf’s book, he examines the case of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black youth who visited his cousin in Money, Miss. This event in 1955 was a tipping point in changing the hearts and minds of Americans regarding the rights of Black Americans. 

The brutality suffered by Emmett was on full display as his mother, Mamie, decided his casket would be open at the funeral. 

“I want the whole world to see what they did to my boy,” stated Mamie.

“It’s time for pro-life Christians to open the casket on abortion,” stated Klusendorf. 

He calls for pro-life advocates to do this lovingly and truthfully. In our churches, in our schools and colleges we must make a persuasive defense.

“Until we do, Americans will continue tolerating an injustice they never have to look at,” he concluded.


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