Shawn Carney on the best methods for a local 40 Days for Life campaign

This is a clip from an episode of Life Report called “Shawn Carney on the State of the Pro-Life Movement.” In this clip I asked 40 Days for Life co-founder Shawn Carney what the best methods are for a local 40 Days for Life campaign.

Click the embedded video and it will start at the right place in the interview. This particular topic ends at 12:54.

If you don’t want to watch the 3-minute video, you can read the full transcript below.


Josh Brahm:  One of the things I loved about Abby’s book was how she talked about the difference between your attitude and the other sidewalk counselors that you had brought to that Planned Parenthood clinic — the vast difference — the juxtaposition between that with the guy with the Angel of Death thing and all of the other more nutty people that were there. There was this kind of loving attitude that Abby was drawn to.

Tell me — I know leaders from the 40 Days haven’t been super “You have to do 40 Days exactly like this.” You’ve left a lot of things open for the local leaders to choose. But you now have a lot of experience and have heard a lot of stories from outside of where you have done 40 Days — if someone is doing 40 Days for the first time, what would you say is the best way to do 40 Days for Life?

Do you hold signs or not? Where do you stand? If you could say, “Here’s the best things that we’ve seen 40 Days for Life groups do when they’re actually out there,” what does that look like to you?

Shawn Carney:  Well, the best way to do, lead, or participate in a 40 Days for Life campaign is to follow everything that we put in our official training, which is an answer that I have to give all too often.

40 days for lifeOur approach — with what you are referring to — is that it is not a cliche to say that this movement is about hearts and minds. It really is about hearts and minds. And if we are interested or at all serious about reaching hearts and changing minds, our approach matters. Our body language matters.

When a woman leaves an abortion facility, there’s no follow-up appointment. What you look like could be the image that she’ll remember in 30 years. And so, when we go out there, we have to be conscious of the fact that we’re taking on a huge responsibility. This is a day she will likely regret when she leaves this facility. And she’s going to remember you. She’s going to remember that there were people there or that there weren’t people there.

I’ve had numerous post-abortive women say, “Where were you 20 years ago or 30 years ago when I had my abortion?” So there really is that longing and that loneliness. There’s nothing more lonely than a lobby of a Planned Parenthood abortion facility.

And yet, when we go out there, we can’t be crazy. We can’t be nuts. We can’t be completely disconnected from what these women are going through.

And we also can’t be disconnected from the workers, although they — in a much different way — are choosing to be there and they are advocating for the death of these children. But we have to be there for them as well.

We have to love our enemies. And we have enemies there. There are people that don’t like us. They don’t want us there. They want you to go away. They may tell you that. They may give you the middle finger. They may do things wanting  to make you angry. And yet, your prayers, your meekness, your humility, your body language — is the witness to them. And it destroys all of their anger. And it destroys all of their thoughts. And that’s really why we’ve seen workers have a change of heart. That’s why women leave at the very last moment.

Nobody grows up wanting an abortion. If we show up, we can only ruin ourselves if we’re shouting at them or if we’re not communicating in a way that shows that we are who we say we are:  that we are people of love, that we represent the Gospel, and that we represent the mercy in the Gospel.

Download Full Interview (MP3) | 00:28:00

Life Report trains pro-life people to communicate their views more effectively. Through round-table discussions and interviews with the top experts on the subject, Life Report provides real-world answers to the toughest questions regarding abortion in the 21st century. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

Special thanks to Kimberly Carmany for the transcription. Thanks to Andrea Gleiter for helping to edit this post.

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