By BRIAN CLOWES
(Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of this article with footnotes, e-mail him at email@example.com.)
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If you live in a larger town or city, you probably have at least one YWCA chapter sponsoring a girl’s basketball team, running a health club, or operating a child care facility or women’s shelter. The Young Women’s Christian Association has been in existence for more than a century and a half, and operates more than 300 affiliates in the United States.
The YWCA did not have corrupt origins like the American Civil Liberties Union or the National Organization for Women. Like the Girl Scouts of America, it began its existence in charity and then allowed itself to be progressively corrupted by the Culture of Death.
The first YWCA was founded in Boston in 1859 by a group of temperate Protestant women who were authentically concerned for others. A few years later, the YWCA established safe havens for young working women so that they could be suitably housed and chaperoned. The YWCA soon expanded from the cities to the colleges, and by 1890 had over 100 affiliates. Its emphasis at the turn of the 20th century was exercise of the body in its gymnasiums and exercise of the soul through its rigorous Bible study classes.
Early in the 20th century, the organization began to change its focus. At its 1911 National Convention, the YWCA became one of the first organizations in the United States to begin promoting a minimum wage and programs that taught the avoidance of what were then delicately referred to as “social diseases,” one of the first forms of sex education in the USA.
For half a century, the YWCA continued to slide downhill until it embraced the entire neo-feminist ideology. From giving sex education classes that preserved the delicate sensibilities of Christian women a century ago, the YWCA now supports only graphic sex education and even condemns abstinence education as “harmful.”
The YWCA went on record as supporting the “right to choose” in 1972, even before the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The YWCA also supported the federal Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which would have removed all restrictions on abortion and struck down all state pro-life laws. FOCA would force taxpayers to fund all abortions right up until the day of birth (and possibly beyond) for any reason.
Lorraine Cole, CEO of the YWCA, said: “The YWCA has always been pro-choice, so this is a topic that we would be very supportive of,” and then falsely claimed that a large majority of women are “pro-choice.”
Today, the YWCA enthusiastically embraces everything from abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy to the redefinition of marriage. The YWCA is so far gone that when it hired Patricia Ireland, the former president of the National Organization for Women, to be its executive director in 2003, there was not even a ripple of protest among its membership.
Ireland had said that “we will break the law to make sure women have the right to safe, legal abortions,” and publicly defended Bill Clinton after his affair with Monica Lewinsky. The Board of Directors of the YWCA boasted that Ireland’s hiring was an effort to transform the organization into an “aggressive advocate for women’s empowerment and racial justice.”
The YWCA not only wholeheartedly supports abortion, it actively works to blunt the pro-life efforts of the Christian church it claims to represent. It was a longtime member organization of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), whose purposes are providing a religious veneer to the pro-abortion movement’s activities and attempting to sideline the pro-life churches by confusing their people. RCRC supports all abortions throughout all nine months of pregnancy, opposes conscience clauses, lobbies for sex-selection abortions, and supports the Chinese forced-abortion program, among other atrocities.
The YWCA also signed on to the failed “See Change” campaign run by Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC), whose purpose is to mute the voice of the Vatican at the United Nations by downgrading its status from permanent observer to nongovernmental organization (NGO).
In its November 2003 position paper entitled “Unwavering Support for Reproductive Rights,” the YWCA boasted about the extent of its pro-abortion activism, saying:
“The YWCA of the USA has an unwavering commitment to reproductive rights for women. The YWCA of the USA adopted a ‘freedom of choice’ position in 1967 at the YWCA National Convention following an extensive debate by the nearly 1,000 delegates from local associations all over the country. . . .
“This position was reaffirmed at the 1988 national convention and remains an important part of the comprehensive YWCA public policy agenda. For almost four decades the YWCA has been an advocate for reproductive rights and freedoms.”
The YWCA sponsored the 2004 pro-abortion “March for Women’s Lives,” which opposed even the most trivial restrictions on abortion, as well as demanding taxpayer funding for all abortions. It is also on the Leadership Council of a group that is so extreme that not even abortion mills will endorse it.
The Pro-Choice Public Education Project (PEP) specializes in putting up bold posters on college campuses that say: “If a woman loses her reproductive rights, who knows what rights she could lose next?” The posters go on to proclaim that, if abortion is outlawed, women will become the legal property of their husbands, will lose the right to vote, will automatically be deemed the guilty party in cases of date rape, and, believe it or not, will be forced to paint their bedrooms pink.
Like most self-described “pro-choice” groups, the YWCA only supports one choice — abortion. If you don’t toe the line, you will be punished. Shannon Nixson found this out the hard way when the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati fired her after she invited a pro-life speaker to talk to pregnant women. Her supervisor gave her the vague excuse that she was “not a good fit for the environment.”
Shannon was allowed to invite speakers on both sides of several other social issues, but the YWCA would allow only the pro-abortion side to be presented at its facilities.
The YWCA of the USA often follows the lead of the World YWCA, which is based in Switzerland. The World YWCA has long since abandoned its original mission, and agitates for “gender equality” on a worldwide basis.
The World YWCA strongly supported the creation of a United Nations “super agency” called UN Women, which is radically pro-abortion and pro-homosexual, and which seeks to impose its will on all nations whether they want abortion and homosexuality or not.
Perhaps most revealingly, the World YWCA teamed up with the United Nations Population Fund, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and the World Association of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides (WAGGGS) to host the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Global Youth Forum in 2012.
This “forum” was an excellent example of how global pro-abortion and population control groups manipulate youth into appearing to demand abortion, homosexual rights, and other evils. First the teenagers were carefully screened to make sure they had the desired (lack of) values. Then they were flown to an exotic venue (in this case, Bali, Indonesia) and treated to only the best hotels and food.
During this forum, anyone who expressed any concerns about the direction the speakers were taking was quickly silenced. This ensured that the conference outcome document had all of the pre-ordained conclusions: Demands to remove all restrictions on abortion, comprehensive sex education that “includes information on sexual orientation and gender identities that is free of religious intolerance,” the legalization of prostitution, and government recognition of a “constantly evolving” concept of the family.
If the YWCA had simply followed the course of its “brother” organization, the Young Men’s Christian Association, it would still be a great asset to our nation today. The YMCA was founded in 1844 and put its Christian principles into action by cultivating a healthy body, mind, and spirit in its members. It has not diluted or discarded these principles, and is much more successful than the YWCA as a result.
A recent contrast between the two organizations helps to illustrate this principle: While the YMCA spent a tremendous amount of time and resources assisting the families of soldiers who fought in recent wars, from Vietnam to Iraq, the YWCA busied itself issuing numerous proclamations against the wars.
The YWCA can only become useful again if it returns to its roots — helping women cope with the sometimes overwhelming mental and moral challenges today’s world confronts them with. Until it does so, it will just be another neo-feminist group agitating for what hurts women, not what truly helps them, and will cause many to question what it means when it identifies itself as “Christian.”