Member of the AKC ClubEssays, Social Justice — By Hope Horner on June 15, 2012 at 6:42 am
I am a member of the AKC. No, not the specialty dog club for fine canines. I am a member of the “Abortion Kills Children” Club. Well, at least I used to be. I no longer carry my card. It expired years ago. But there was a time when I was a card-carrying, active, devoted member of the AKC Club and I wasn’t the only one.
I was sixteen years old, standing on a sidewalk in the heart of Santa Cruz, California. In my hands was a large, professionally made, bright blue sign that said “Abortion Kills Children” in large white letters. That was all it said. My friends and I, all teens, had been dropped off at one of the busiest intersections in town by an adult member of our church. It was July and Santa Cruz was bustling. Residents and tourists zipped around like bees in the warm sunshine. We stood in shorts and t-shirts, holding our signs high over our heads as people drove, biked and walked by, some staring, some honking short bursts of approval, others leaning on their horns in disgust, yelling unintelligible words, words we could understand but wish we couldn’t. I remember one guy yelling out his car window as he drove by, “YOU should have been aborted!” I felt scared and excited at the same time. I believed what our signs said. I was taking a stand for God. For the unborn. I was being courageous. Christ-like. My sign told everyone that I was part of the Club:
Abortion Kills Children!
I was young, naïve, but I was sincere in wanting to let everyone know that I thought abortion was the murder of an unborn child. My sign might as well have said:
“Abortion kills children, not fetuses!”
“If you’ve had an abortion, you are a killer!”
“If you have performed an abortion, you’re a murderer!”
“YES! Abortion is a CHOICE – a choice to kill!”
Any of those signs would have worked for me and I would have held them high. My friends from church would have done the same.
I knew I was doing something provocative, maybe even dangerous. Santa Cruz is not a back hills, Bible loving town. It is a beachside, Hybrid driving bastion of surfers, liberals and artists. My sign was an in-your-face message in a town where most people were pro-choice. My hands were sweaty. My eyes darted around from person to person, car to car. Would someone throw something at us? Try to run us over? I bobbed my sign up and down to release some of my nervous energy. I walked in a circle, afraid to go too far from the safety of my group. I giggled with friends when traffic slowed. I felt nervous, jumpy, and yet confident; I felt certain I was doing something that God wanted me to do. After all, I was taking a stand against murder! And not just any murder, the murder of innocent, helpless, unborn children! I was helping a great cause. I was saving lives. I was standing up for what is right. My sign spoke truth whether people wanted to admit it or not. Harsh words, true, but they got it right. Abortion does kill children. And all of us teens, standing on this busy street, displaying our signs, felt the same way. We were proud members of the AKC Club. We had solidarity of thought and assuredness of mission despite the butterflies in our stomachs. I had the same feeling surging inside me that I had the day before during my high school softball game. It was the 9th inning, the bases were loaded and I was up to bat. This was it. This busy street corner was my batter’s box. This sign was my bat. If I could stop just one person from killing their unborn baby, I would hit a HOMERUN for God! Yeah! One baby saved equaled a bases loaded, bottom of the ninth walk-off homerun!
Instead, all these years later, I realize I struck out.
In fact, I have a new feeling in my stomach now when I think about that day I spent holding my AKC sign high in the air. I don’t feel excited or “giddy” as I did then. Instead, I feel sick. I feel disgusted with myself. I feel ashamed. I am convinced I failed Christ that day. I was trying to turn people away from abortion when in fact, I probably turned people away from Christ instead. I am ashamed to think of how many will NEVER want anything to do with Jesus because of my actions that day as a member of the AKC Club.
I think now of all the women who may have driven by, those who had had an abortion in their teens, or others maybe the week before, and they saw my sign and felt ashamed, judged and guilty. My sign told them that I thought they were a murderer. I was not going to love them. I was here to judge them. And they could probably infer, although my sign said nothing about my faith, (Who else protests abortion except religious folk?) that my God didn’t want anything to do with them. While I may have believed that my sign displayed the truth, I was not speaking it in love. I wasn’t speaking it at all. I was arrogantly spitting it, stating it coldly, shouting it on a sign in bold letters. There was no conversation. No compassion. Just cold-cocked condemnation. My sign pushed her away as she drove by, forcing her to avert her eyes. “Go away you murderer!” Where is she now I wonder?
I shudder to think that a woman drove by that day who had aborted a baby brought to life in her womb by the violent act of rape or incest. Maybe she had finally gotten herself into a good frame of mind, finally “let go” of that painful memory, maybe even found God’s healing forgiveness and love and BAM! My sign brought it all back. The guilt. The shame. It told her callously that she was a victim who became a victimizer. My sign yelled “Sinner!” in her face and stripped away any peace she had begun to find. I did that. Me, a sixteen year old girl, from a loving family, with a stomach full of Cherry Coke, wearing a OP T-shirt without a care in the world. I was holding up a sign that pointed a finger at her and told her she was a murderer. I picked up the first stone and hurled it. Lord, forgive me.
Sure, I did not make the sign myself, nor propose, plan or produce the sign-holding activity that day. Someone at my church put the whole event together as a teen group outing. Some would say shame on that adult who used a bunch of naive, eager-to-please, gullible, giddy teens to do such a thing. I suppose that is true. But I take responsibility for my part. I realize all these years later, what I did was wrong; it was judgmental, motivated by self-righteousness and not by love. It was about being right and sadly, it most likely pushed people away from God. All these years later, when I think of that day, I ask God for His mercy and forgiveness – the two things I failed to show that day as a member of the AKC Club.
-Hope A. Horner, 2012, godisstillspeaking.blogspot.com / email@example.com