Monday, December 8, 2008

Wilberforce: Proof That Incrementalism Works?

I've been publishing alot on the Colorado Right to Life Blog (, and I suppose it's time to start putting some of those things over here on my own blog....


Proof That Incrementalism Works?

by Bob Kyffin
(reprinted from the CRTL Newsletter Summer 2008)

William Wilberforce is a hero in the eyes of most of us in the pro-life movement. He’s an inspiration to all of us.

However, his work against slavery in Britain is often cited (by incrementalists) as proof that "incrementalism works." This claim not only mistakes the lesson we should take from his astonishing life, but also denigrates the true values that he held dear – those based upon a conviction in the God-given Rights to Life and Freedom.

The growing Personhood Wing of the pro-life movement holds that "any law which says ‘do this, and then you can kill the baby (or own the slave)’" is an evil regulation Christians should never support. Did Wilberforce support such laws during his nearly half-century of crusading? Yes. Have many sincere pro-lifers done so, even those who now support Personhood? Yes. The problem is not the person – it’s the naïve, emotional position they hold for a time.

Most supporters of Personhood once supported laws such as the Partial Birth Abortion Ban, or waiting periods. Some didn’t, but they are few. The intellectual path from incrementalism to abolitionism is a long, hard one. We can’t condemn someone for not "getting the concept" right away. All we can do is ask them to consider, and to learn.

A study of William Wilberforce shows he always held that slavery was absolutely wrong. He first stated his anti-slavery goal in 1789. "I from this time determined that I would never rest till I had effected its abolition." Every year, thereafter, for several years, he ran the same bill – an absolute end to the slave trade.

Discouraged (like many pro-lifers), he began trying incremental compromises such as registering slaves, regulating the number of slaves who could be on a slave ship, or prohibiting British slavers from trading with French colonies – laws which implicitly legitimized slaveowning, even while trying to reduce its misery, or prevalence. Was this an improvement? Debatable. Did the reduced misery of slaves, lessen public interest in ending the practice entirely, among some at least? Very likely. The abolitionists had a strong argument – that the slaves were being inhumanely mistreated – yet they reduced its potency through regulation.

In fact, it was often the slaveholders who advocated laws to improve the conditions of slaves! A document on slavery at reports, "Sugar planters in Guyana and the Caribbean and their political and financial backers in Britain were not yet ready for the final abolition of slavery. They decided that it would be better to support legislation to improve the physical, moral and religious conditions of the slaves." These bills were called "Amelioration Laws," yet in reality, they only continued the suffering. Likewise, Wilberforce’s nemesis Henry Dundas stymied the anti-slavery movement by stipulating "gradual abolition," only prolonging it.
Do we want to "ameliorate" abortion? Or do we want to end it? As the craven interests of the slaveholders proves, these are not one and the same path toward abolition!

We must be discriminating when evaluating whether a measure is "compromised incrementalism" (one step forward, two steps back), or positive incrementalism. If Wilberforce’s limit on the number of slaves per ship had instead simply regulated the number of people on board, then it would have accomplished its goal without tacitly approving of slavery. Similarly, if his registration bill had specified that every laborer, paid or unpaid, must be reported.

An uncompromised law today might make it criminal to perform any surgical treatment on a minor without parental notification, accomplishing one positive goal of pro-lifers without the tragedy of authorizing murder of the innocent in law.

Was Wilberforce an incrementalist because he wanted to end the slave trade first, and slavery itself later? No. In a letter from 1797, Wilberforce urged Prime Minister William Pitt to revoke a contract requiring Britain to provide Spain with African slaves. This highlights the point that the slave trade and slave ownership were different parts of the same problem. Even had Wilberforce successfully banned slave ownership in British territories, he would have had to ban the slave trade too, to prevent massive British involvement in promoting slavery elsewhere. Therefore, he cannot be blamed for not trying to simultaneously ban both. Taking on one or the other was commendable. Furthermore, there is nothing inherently wrong with banning the slave trade as an isolated goal because, like banning taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, a law which would end such trade or funding would not necessarily affirm any rights to do evil, and therefore would not either promote the murder or ownership of people, nor undermine the argument that all men deserve life and freedom.

Did slavery, which persisted for 26 years after the end of the British slave trade, linger because abolitionists had fought the brutality of the trade, rather than focusing on teaching people that slavery is inherently wrong? Wilberforce became convinced it was so. In Eric Metaxas’ Wilberforce biography, Amazing Grace, he notes that Wilberforce became disenchanted with the incremental method, feeling it was counterproductive. He had hoped incremental improvements would lead inherently to emancipation. "But now, in 1818, it could be seen that this hope had been naïve. So once again, the course was clear: immediate emancipation by political means."

Today, we have the benefit of this lesson, and similar lessons from the United States’ abolition movement, to show us the superiority of principle over compromise. We must not reject these lessons of history!

The ultimate proof of Wilberforce’s commitment is his stand on abolition in the United States. Near the end of his life, an incremental anti-slavery society (a "colonization" faction) was able to secure Wilberforce’s endorsement by leading him to believe they were for an absolute end to slavery in America. However, the American absolutist William Lloyd Garrison arrived in England soon after, and explained the relative positions of anti-slavery societies to Wilberforce. He was greatly angered, revoked his earlier statement, and publicized an endorsement of Garrison instead.

Lest someone argue that Wilberforce’s chosen strategy for America was due to greater prospects of success, it is a fact that slavery remained strong in the United States, and was nowhere near abolition at that time (1833). There were many U.S. anti-slavery groups whose positions were less absolute than Garrison’s. But, no matter the difficulty of the road, at the end of his life Wilberforce preferred principle over compromise.

Surely, it can be argued that Wilberforce was an incrementalist at times. Wilberforce was led by his heart, and supported measures that would regulate slavery. We all face this temptation with regard to abortion.

By the end of his life, Wilberforce had become a staunch absolute abolitionist. Arguments that he is the poster boy of the "compromised incrementalist" movement are specious and unfair. When, with all his experience, Wilberforce had a chance to do it over again, he counseled against compromise. He preferred absolute abolition in the United States, not an incremental strategy.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Lesser Of Two Evils Is Still Evil

Why are we being urged by our Christian friends (and maybe we’re doing the urging ourselves) to “vote for the lesser of two evils?” Doesn’t that mean support for evil, no matter whether it’s the lesser or not?

And why is it our Christian friends doing the urging, and not our Republican friends?

The answer is that “Republicans” are used to making these choices. There’s no such thing as “Republican morality.” Morality comes from somewhere else, and there’s nothing inherently moral about being or voting Republican. It’s a value judgment over who’s better, who’s more like us, who’s less likely to do harm.

As Christians, don’t we have a higher standard? Or shouldn’t we? There’s morality, and then there’s immorality. Amorality – to choose neither – is not a definition God accepts. He draws “bright lines” between one and the other, and you’re either with Him, or against Him.

But doesn’t God encourage us to be “salt and light?” To participate in society and be a positive Christian example? And doesn’t He also encourage us to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s?”

In Romans 3:8, Paul teaches, “Why not say—as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say—‘Let us do evil that good may result?’ Their condemnation is deserved.”

So not just are we never to do evil that good may come of it, but those who do are to be condemned.

Don’t we face this choice every election? Choosing between imperfect candidates is the American way of life! Besides, “the lesser of two evils” is just a saying, right?

Often, it is just a saying. Often, we’re choosing between two Christians (nominal or otherwise) who simply have different political opinions. So when does a candidate go from a bad political choice to being an evil choice?

That really depends on where God draws His line, as to what is truly evil. Even Christian denominations differ on what they consider evil. Envy? Possibly. Adultery or contempt for God? Sure – and worth considering in your voting. But what stands at the top of everybody’s list for evil? Murder of the innocent.

So where does that leave a Christian, who might be wondering when the “lesser of two evils” really becomes evil? Where do you think?

Now, some parties, and some members of those parties, hold a definite position on evils like abortion. Other parties, remarkably, hold a variety of opinions on abortion, some candidates clearly opposing, others clearly supporting, and still more trying to split the difference.

So where should a Christian come down on a candidate whose position “splits the difference” on abortion? What if that candidate, say, supports federal funding for the destruction of embryos? Or thinks the abortion of innocent children is okay in some circumstances?

Germans once faced a choice between Hitler and socialism. Sadly, most Christians chose Hitler. Americans often faced a choice between pro-slavery candidates. What should a Christian do, if forced to choose between Hitler and Stalin? If there were only two candidates on every ballot, Christian moral reasoning might force you to not vote.

Thankfully, we live in a country where there are more than two candidates on most ballots. But isn’t that “throwing away your vote?”

It’s strange how, in congressional districts where one party normally gets 70 percent of the vote, voting for the major-party candidate who’s guaranteed to lose isn’t considered “throwing away your vote.” Those 30 percent, or 10 percent, of the votes become protest votes, and they are valuable for that purpose.

When faced with two major-party candidates who reject God’s teaching on morality, and who try to split the difference, we are blessed with alternate choices. We can still cast a vote for a person who takes their Christianity, and its moral imperatives, seriously.

And Christians cannot let fear of “the boogyman” lead us into voting for those who oppose much of what we believe. Hitler stood against most of what Christians believe, and yet it was fear of the socialists and communists that misled Christians into voting for Hitler. Fear is not an excuse in God’s eyes, who assures us that we are His, and His hand is on our shoulder, no matter what dangers or turmoil we face.

The world wants you to ignore some of the most important moral and ethical questions we face. The parties – most of them – surely want you to as well.

As Christians, we cannot ignore them. You must decide whether to do good in the polling booth, or whether to vote for the lesser of two evils “that good may [supposedly] come.”

What will you choose?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Judie Brown - A Philosophical Split, or Absence of Logic?

Judie Brown, President of the American Life League, and guest speaker at a recent fundraising dinner, hits it out of the park when she writes about why Personhood is the only sensible position for any pro-life group.

This article is reprinted from Judie's blog at the ALL website.

Philosophical Split, Or Absence of Logic?

A couple of days ago a member of the leadership team from Colorado for Equal Rights sent me a link to the NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado home page where I found something remarkable.

You see the pro-abortion forces in Colorado are up in arms, literally, over the personhood effort in the state, and have made the statement: "Changing Colorado’s constitution in such an extreme way could have far-reaching consequences beyond banning abortion, including making it illegal to use of the most effective forms of birth control, restricting in-vitro fertilization, and curbing embryonic stem cell research."

Well, I have to ask, what is so extreme about being consistent in the pro-life struggle to protect the personhood of the human being from the time his life begins, regardless of the manner in which that life begins? Would the pro-aborts like it better if pro-lifers contradicted their principles by arguing that they "take no position on contraception," or "will not oppose in vitro fertilization" or "support exceptions in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother?"

Because if they would be less offended by such inconsistent illogical politically correct positions they need only focus attention on South Dakota or some other legislative effort where consistency is lacking altogether. For as one recent news report stated: "The Wall Street Journal on Monday examined the 'philosophical split' among antiabortion groups over five state ballot initiatives, with some groups supporting only measures that seek to ban abortion, while others are supporting attempts to 'chip away' at abortion rights through initiatives aimed at restricting access or limiting certain procedures."

If you are familiar with this blog you already know where I stand on the "split" but perhaps you have not quite gotten your arms around the reasons why. After all, you might be thinking, "Judie Brown is simply one of those 'all or nothing' pro-lifers who doesn’t get it." Well, my friend, I do get it and that is why I abhor the argument that we can chip away at abortion rights in America in 2008.

Why? Let’s start with 35 years ago when the Supreme Court handed down the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court decisions decriminalizing abortion during all nine months of pregnancy. From that moment to this, the split in the pro-life movement has widened as many have inconsistently chosen to add on an exception here and an exception there until, as we all know, we have reached a point where we cannot even outlaw infanticide – partial birth abortion – unless we support a life of the mother exception in the legislation.

What do these exceptions mean to the future of pro-life political efforts to restore personhood to the preborn child?

To put it succinctly, it means that we, at least some of us, are so good at undermining the personhood principle by "chipping away" at the fringes of abortion-murder that we have become extraordinarily efficient at denying that there is anything wrong with this "strategy." It is obvious that many of us simply do not want to do the difficult thing - the right thing - and be consistent in our arguments.

My view is that until we as a pro-life movement decide, from one end of the movement to the other, that we are dedicated to personhood and will oppose abortive birth control, in vitro fertilization and surgical abortion, we are going to spin our wheels. We are going to continue to cut down a small tree here and tinier one there, while thousands of babies continue to die every single day.

Personhood means defending every single human being without excluding a single one; anything less, commonly known as chipping away, is equivalent to opposing ourselves by claiming we are being realistic!

Come on, give me a break! NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado gets it! Why can’t some pro-lifers?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

McCain - The Obvious Choice for a Confused GOP

Come on pro-lifers! Let's support the same candidate for president that the pro-abortion Republicans for Choice has endorsed!!! Rah! Rah!

McCain opposes killing Jews in gas chambers!

McCain opposes lynching Blacks!

McCain does support the harvesting and killing of human beings for the purposes of Mengele-style medical experiments which will one day allow the cloning and cultivating of human embryos for transplant purposes to make the lives of every privileged elite citizen easier and more carefree...

But two out of three isn't really all that bad, when you're talking about post-Reagan Republican candidates, is it?!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Planned Parenthood Wants Racist Funding to Kill Blacks

Those of us who have been involved in the pro-life movement against Planned Parenthood are not surprised by this stunning revelation, because we've known it's true for years. But we are shocked, as any civil human being should be.

A student-run pro-life newspaper at UCLA, called The Advocate, has run a sting on Planned Parenthood offices (many of them!) across the country. Their investigation revealed that Planned Parenthood is eager to receive funding from racists in order to kill Black babies!

Here is the incredible YouTube video:

I first saw this on Jill Stanek's blog:

But it's also LEADING WorldNetDaily today!

It reminds me of Colorado Right to Life's nationally famous TruthTruck banner (that some abortion cronies tried to steal):

Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was a racist, and a eugenicist (I always think back to Star Trek, and the Eugenics Wars which produced Khan Noonian Singh -- i.e. The Wrath of Khan).

Sanger was friends and comrades with many of Adolf Hitler's favorite Nazi doctors, she enjoyed speaking about racial purity with the KKK Women's Auxiliary, and she wrote the words above, realizing that the kind of "planned parenthood" she wanted could be seen (accurately) as excluding most Black people, disabled people, "dumb" people, and other racial and societal minorities from experiencing "parenthood" (or birth!) at all!

As I said, this video comes as no surprise, but I'm hoping it might cause some liberal supporters of Planned Parenthood to think twice about who it is they're supporting.

Bob Kyffin

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Keyes On Point Again

This week, Dr. Alan Keyes had another on-point column, pointing out the curious inability of the compromised pro-life community to make coherent refutations of the cogent arguments put forward by him, Judie Brown, Brian Rohrbough (and Colorado Right to Life), and many other prominent uncompromised pro-life leaders against both incrementalism and the fatally flawed Partial Birth Abortion ruling.

He also points to an article I'd forgotten about, by Judie Brown of the American Life League.

Both of these columns are better than Janet Folger's WorldNetDaily column from yesterday which minimizes a serious philosophical divide, dismissing it as bickering. It's more than just talk & backtalk -- it's an issue that's very important to resolve, and we'd better do so to be effective. The way we're going isn't working, and we'd better commit to a real strategy, real soon!

Here's the link to Dr. Keyes' "Bad Fruit" :

And here's a teaser:

Bad fruit
Rational debate of Carhart called for

Alan Keyes
June 24, 2007

I learned with sadness and chagrin that at the recent convention of National Right to Life, the organization's leadership decided to purge the Colorado Chapter because the chapter took to task the pro-life leaders who applauded Justice Kennedy's reasoning in Gonzales v. Carhart — the recent Supreme Court decision on partial birth abortion. (For my analysis of this decision, please see the article "Gardeners of Evil" at

Unfortunately, this news was not my first inkling of the internecine conflict the decision brought to light within the ranks of the pro-life movement. Judie Brown has been one of the critics of the decision's wicked entrenchment of the unconstitutional Roe/Casey jurisprudence. When RenewAmerica published her response to those who have taken such criticisms as personal attacks against themselves, one of the organizations coming in for criticism withheld its support from a Christian citizen mobilization effort I am involved with.

Need for rational discussion

I am of course not surprised or dismayed that there should be disagreement among pro-lifers. I have been deeply disappointed, however, that instead of answering the lucid arguments being made by people like Judie Brown and myself, the Gonzales v. Carhart cheering section has chosen petty maneuvers and power plays aimed at damaging or silencing their critics.

This is the standard response of those who lack the ability to defend their position with good logic and clear arguments. We have suffered this kind of response for years from the proponents of abortion, from their claque in the liberal media and their tools in the political arena. But the rational moral strength of our position has placed pro-lifers beyond the temptation to stoop to such tactics — until now.

To read the rest of the article :


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Keyes' Gardeners of Evil - On PBA Ban

I'd meant to post this a while back, when I first blogged on the subject. This is a small glimmer of the magnificence which was Keyes' in-person remarks at the Colorado Capitol in April. There's a DVD available from Colorado Right to Life (linked) if you're interested in hearing the whole thing.

I'm posting a teaser for the article, which can be found in its entirety at:

Gardeners of evil

Alan Keyes
April 28, 2007

Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Gonzales v. Carhart (the case that involved a challenge to the federal law restricting so-called partial birth abortion), I received an email reporting the decision with a copy of the ruling attached.

Unlike many whom the media identify as leaders in the pro-life movement, I felt no inclination to leap for joy at the news that the Court's opinion upheld the constitutionality of the law.In the first place, I have never been convinced that the legislative action in question had much significance for the pro-life cause. I believe it was mostly intended to provide cover for pro-abortion Republican politicians, who could offer their vote for the PBA restriction as a fig leaf to cover the shame of their supposedly pro-life supporters who put partisan politics above their obligations of conscience. In the second place, it seemed unwise to react to the decision before carefully considering the argument that produced it.

Abominable affirmation

Having done so, I cannot join in, or even understand, the approbation which others have expressed for this decision. It is in fact an abominable affirmation of the Court's unconstitutional decisions in Roe and Casey. With grotesquely meticulous care, the man whose pivotal vote preserved so-called abortion rights in the Casey decision (Justice Kennedy) carves out an exception intended to prove and strengthen the rules set forth in Roe and Casey.

As my good friend Judie Brown put it recently (at a Colorado Right To Life dinner in Denver), Kennedy played the part of a skillful gardener, cutting back the evil planted by Roe/Casey in order to strengthen and extend its roots, hoping no doubt to make it harder to overturn in any subsequent ruling. While allowing for a state interest in restricting one brutal way of murdering the nascent child, he makes it clear that this restriction is tolerable under Roe/Casey only because abortionists still have access to other equally brutal modes of killing.

At one point, with what seems like dogged satisfaction, Kennedy describes such an alternative in almost clinical detail, no doubt because he knows that in doing so he implicates all the justices who join his reasoning in explicit support for the right to use this alternative to kill the child, even though it is just as horrendous as the one restricted by the "partial birth" legislation.

To read more of this article, the link is here: