Notes from Across the Atlantic
Peter Mitchell FAITH Magazine January – February 2012
Youthful About-turn on Abortion
"Who was Adolf Hitler?" This question opens a new provocative documentary called "180" that has been spreading across American college campuses in recent months. The thirty-minute film shows producer Ray Comfort, an evangelical pastor, interviewing young adults on the streets of southern California and asking probing moral questions. He takes the fateful step of linking the Holocaust of the Jews in Nazi Germany with legalised abortion in the United States. Some 200,000 copies of the DVD were handed out at over one hundred of America's top universities in late October 2011, and in the weeks following word of the film has spread like wildfire across the US. As of late November the film already had over one and a half million hits, and rising fast, on YouTube. Fasten your seatbelts for afascinating, somewhat frightening, yet ultimately hopeful tour of the moral landscape of 21st-century America.
"180" opens with a rather embarrassing glimpse of the ignorance of the "average" American college student about the history of Nazi Germany. When asked to identify Adolf Hitler, young people stopped on the street respond with blank stares, confused looks, and variations on the theme, "I have no idea", even when shown Hitler's picture. Others take a stab that he might have been a communist and even venture to ask uncertainly, "Was he German?" Some of course immediately identify him as the perpetrator of one of the greatest crimes in the history of humanity who conceived and ordered the "Final Solution".
The questioner rapidly moves on to confront the interviewees with a moral dilemma, describing an actual slaughter of 1,600 Jews that occurred in 1942: "If a Nazi soldier put a rifle to your head and demanded that you bury Jews alive with a bulldozer, would you do it?" Some respond with horror and say they would flatly refuse others bluntly declare that to save their own life and family, they would probably do it. When those who say they would refuse are asked to give their rationale, each of the people being questioned state in some way that they value human life.
Having established that the Holocaust was an unspeakable crime against humanity, the questioner then invites those being interviewed to make a provocative connection: "How do you feel about abortion?" Immediately the moral clarity which the interviewees have about the value of human life evaporates: "That's a difficult question;" "That's a very personal thing;" "I would never have one but I believe it's a woman's right to choose"; et cetera. The questioning continues: "Do you believe it is a baby inside the mother's womb?" When most of the interviewees admit that it is indeed a baby, they are asked to finish the following sentence: "It's okay to kill a baby in the womb when..." Various responses follow: "That's very hard to say..."; "It should never be done lightly..."; "If the mothercannot provide for the baby..."; "If the mother was raped...." The questioner presses the issue: "When asked about the Holocaust, you said that you valued human life, so why is this situation any different?" More hedging in reply: "Well that's between that person and God;" "That is the mother's decision alone and I don't think we should judge anyone;" "It's not for me to say." But, the relentless logic continues, would people ever speak that way about Hitler? Would people say, "I would never kill the Jews, but I respect Hitler's right to choose to kill them and I don't think anyone can judge that what he did was wrong?" When put to them in this way, the interviewees begin to acknowledge that perhaps the questioner has a point -perhaps saying that a woman has a right to choose isthe same as saying that the Holocaust was not morally wrong. Seen from this perspective, the interviewees admit that they agree that abortion is never morally justifiable: a "180" in their thinking about the legalised killing of over 53 million persons in the United States since Roe v. Wade.
"180" demonstrates quickly, clearly and obviously that there is absolutely no reasonable justification for abortion. It also exposes the abortion industry as an extremely lucrative machine, not unlike the way Hitler profited from the Jews to finance the Nazi war effort. In the short time since the release of "180," word of its powerful impact on secular, non-religious audiences abounds. Many students have posted comments sharing how the film completely changed the perspective of their pro-abortion teachers.
Having convinced his interviewees of the evil of abortion, Comfort then launches into a blunt attempt to convince them that they are in danger of going to hell and of their need for salvation through Jesus. While this pitch may ring as a bit too Protestant-sounding in Catholic ears and weakens the clear message of the film to some extent, it is nevertheless admirable to see someone on the street inviting passers-by to faith in Jesus Christ.
Not surprisingly, three of the largest billboard companies in southern California have refused to allow advertising promoting "180" on its signs. According to Comfort, one company is owned by a Jewish family that is outraged that any comparison should be drawn between the Holocaust and abortion. "If they don't [like] the comparison of the killing of six million Jews with the slaughter of nearly sixty million Americans through abortion," he said, "it's probably because they don't consider a baby in the womb to be human." The good news is that thanks to "180," more and more Americans are realising that the killing of a baby in the womb is never justifiable.