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Pro-Life Interfaith Conference . . . Includes Muslim Doctor, Catholic Sheriff, Baptist Educator

March 25, 2015 Frontpage No Comments

By DEXTER DUGGAN

MESA, Ariz. — A daylong pro-life interfaith conference in metropolitan Phoenix’s East Valley area featured some Arizona speakers recognized around the nation, including M. Zuhdi Jasser, MD, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Speakers from Catholic, Protestant, Latter-day Saints, and Muslim faiths addressed topics including abortion, euthanasia, conscience and politics at a conference center here with the legendary Superstition Mountains looming to the east.
Jasser, chairman of the bioethics committee at a Phoenix hospital, often goes before a national media audience to defend and advocate harmonizing the Muslim faith with pluralism and democracy. His organization’s website is aifdemocracy.org.
“The protection of the unborn is something that has become important to me. . . . Very important that faith communities come together” for unborn babies, Jasser said in a video prepared specifically for this conference because he was unable to attend.
Wearing a small American flag lapel pin, Jasser said, “Where I come to this is on the side of life, not only as a Muslim but a physician….As a Muslim, I believe God tests us and challenges us” as to how people treat the vulnerable.
Saying that both suicide and abortion are prohibited, Jasser said he believes as both a physician and Muslim that “life begins at conception.”
He concluded his remarks with, “God bless you.”
As soon as Arpaio’s name was announced to the audience, people burst into applause. They also applauded when the sheriff said that both his mother and father “came from Italy, legally,” to the United States.
Arpaio encouraged the pro-lifers to keep up their efforts. “Just have to keep working hard, spreading the word….Very sad on the abortion issue. Very sad.”
Wearing a tan suit and a light blue shirt without a tie, the sheriff said the safety of pro-lifers concerns him. “I worry sometimes about you guys” because of “kooks out there.” He’s familiar with potential danger, he added, because “I’m the one who gets all the threats.”
He chatted from the lectern like someone relaxing with friends.
The Catholic Arpaio skimmed over various topics including being raised by Italian families after his mother died when giving birth to him in Springfield, Mass., and technological changes that enable small children to take “selfies” with their phones.
Liberal elites around the nation denounce Arpaio because he doesn’t share their agenda, but Arpaio told the audience, “I do have a heart.”
About four months ago, he said, he decided to switch his jails to a vegetarian diet, and is going to go vegetarian himself. Arpaio also has a sheriff’s unit to combat animal cruelty, as well as taking an interest in preparing inmates for life after their release, so they don’t end up back in his custody.
After a federal law-enforcement career, the resilient Arpaio, now age 82, ran for Maricopa County sheriff for the first time at age 60, has been elected to serve six terms, and says he plans to run again.
He wished the pro-lifers well. “Thank you for doing all you can to save our children.”
Educator C.T. Wright praised Arpaio as his hero and “the greatest sheriff…in the universe, and the greatest sheriff beyond the universe.”
With a nod to the conference’s interfaith theme, Wright joked that he and the sheriff are going to start an Italian Catholic black Baptist church.
Stressing the value of “life, life, life, life,” even for those in difficult circumstances, Wright said he wasn’t simply born on the wrong side of the tracks in Georgia, but “I was born on the wrong side of the tracks for black folks,” to a mother who dropped out of school in the ninth grade.
However, “God was always with me, every step of the way,” he said.
As for abortion, “When you destroy that baby before it is born, you may be destroying the [future] president of the United States,” Wright said.
When he was named Republican of the Year for 2014 in the Phoenix suburb where he lives, a local newspaper article said Wright “relates how a child of sharecroppers growing up in the small town of Social Circle, Ga., rose to academic heights by employing a strong work ethic and taking advantage of educational opportunities. He went from being a small-town teacher to earning a Ph.D. at Boston University and serving in high-ranking posts at black colleges and universities.”
Republican conservative Andrew Thomas, an author and former chief prosecutor of Phoenix’s Maricopa County, told the audience that threats to religious liberty come not only from ISIS terrorists but also domestic elites that control U.S. courts, universities, media, and the arts.
Even when voters cast their ballots, “these elite institutions unite” against “the public will,” Thomas said, adding that in the last year, federal judges struck down three Arizona pro-life laws.
“From the Middle East to the corridors of power here, we are under siege,” said Thomas, a strong foe of illegal immigration who was disbarred by the state’s liberal legal establishment in 2012.
“Despite all our hard work” and the election of conservatives, “[c]learly we are not” gaining ground, he said.
“Life, marriage, and religious freedom all lie in the balance,” Thomas said, although the courts “are past the point of meaningful reform” and must have their power curtailed.
He reminded the audience of Jesus’ promise that with God, all things are possible.
Three of Thomas’ books well-known in the conservative movement are Crime and the Sacking of America; Clarence Thomas: A Biography, and The People vs. Harvard Law.
The current chief prosecutor of Maricopa County, Republican Bill Montgomery, expressed confidence that permissive abortion law will be ended, and the arrival of that day would be hastened if men stood up for distressed pregnant women.
The Catholic Montgomery told of recently praying the rosary outside an abortion facility, including for people “who work in the abortion industry…to have the courage to walk away from it.”
Abortion “would end tonight . . . if men would be men” and help pregnant women, he said. “The last abortion ever to be performed would be today.”
Earlier in his comments, Montgomery said that the positions of Barack Obama’s administration are so clearly in opposition to historic religious freedom that some Christians are having to decide whether to forgo being in business.
Using a strong religious approach, Montgomery said, “Draw your strength from the Lord” and “put on the armor of God, that you will be able to resist on the evil day. . . .
“Vote for people who will vote to change the policies” that need to be corrected, he said, adding that an attack on any Christian “is an attack on all of us,” regardless of denomination.
If two people of the same sex introduce themselves as a married couple, Montgomery said, “[t]ruth, love, and sincere compassion” require a response that marriage is only between a man and a woman. “The effort to join two people of the same sex” in marriage is futile.
Refuse to accept judicial decisions that go against human nature, but it takes time for reform, he said. “This tide will turn. . . .
“Be bold, be strong….We know how the story ends,” Montgomery said. “. . . Our God is an awesome God, and the victory is ours.”
The conference’s keynote speaker, Fr. Andrew Kemberling, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Denver, told the audience, “At the core of what you see in liberalism today” is socialism, which generates its own “truth,” not the accepted truth understood in Christianity.
“It’s called propaganda,” Kemberling said. “. . . In theology we have a name for that. It’s called situational ethics.”
Killing babies “is against the truth,” he said, but situational ethics puts people in a position where “we’re unsure who we really are.”
America’s Founders favored separation of church and state “for a very good reason,” Kemberling said — meaning “the government stays out of religion.”
Contrary to claims that the Founders were men of thin faith, he said, George Washington today “would sound like a religious fanatic . . . thoroughly Christian.”

Part Of The Plan

Attorney Mark Henry, president of Legal Lifeguard, Inc. (legallifeguard.org), warned against signing “medical treatment documents that are secular, and not pro-life.”
He said Legal Lifeguard is “like a LegalZoom from a pro-life, Christian perspective.”
Obamacare “really was a socialist takeover of the health-care industry,” Henry said. “. . . We recognize the federal government shouldn’t be engaging in power grabs. . . .
“Obamacare tramples on the conscience rights of Christians,” Henry said, adding: “Health care has risen in costs. Physicians are running for the exits….This isn’t how it was supposed to work out,” according to what Obama had said.
The non-patient, non-physician government bureaucrats “throw out the Hippocratic Oath and replace it with a calculator,” he said. “. . . Not surprisingly, the most vulnerable get hammered by Obamacare,” particularly seniors, whose medical care is both delayed and denied.
“We’ve heard about death panels, we’ve heard about cost containment,” Henry said. “. . . If you’re not given the right care, you’re going to die sooner. . . . This is part of the plan,” and means euthanasia.
Justin Olson, a strongly pro-life member of the Arizona House of Representatives, explained how his Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints views the U.S. Constitution as “divinely inspired,” with God guiding every step by which Americans advanced to having an independent nation.
“My views about abortion and my views about the Constitution are one and the same,” Olson said, but now the Constitution is being misused as an instrument to trample on life.
Longtime missionary Rev. Bill Bathman, who spent decades working in Communist countries, behind the Iron Curtain, denounced massive abortion, which leads people to become slaves of the state.
“Hands that shed innocent blood” are one of the things that God most hates, he said.
“Life begins with conception, and for one out of three, it ends at Planned Parenthood,” Bathman said. “God forgive us!”
Today the threat isn’t just from terrorists but from those who believe “choice” means killing “one’s own flesh and blood,” he said.
However, Bathman, chairman of the board of the Christian Frontline Fellowship, said forgiveness for sin is always available, with no sin ever being beyond the power of God’s pardon.
The conference was presented by the Arizona East Valley Pro-Life Alliance.

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