In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, these people organized the March for Life event in Washington, D.C. the very next year that continues today. In Oklahoma, they established the Rose Day Pro-Life rally, which also continues to this day in a major way.
I’m talking about Roman Catholics, who were the first and foremost voice against abortion and for the unborn in America. The Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) President, Russell D. Moore, recently said Evangelicals “owe an incalculable debt to Roman Catholics in the pro-life movement because they were there before we were there.”
He continued, “They understood the stakes in Roe v. Wade before most evangelicals did.” Moore is right, yet from that time to this, Evangelicals, and Southern Baptists in particular, have made up for lost time in the fight for life.
Oklahoma Baptists established a crisis pregnancy center in 1986 that has multiplied into Hope Pregnancy Centers, a flourishing ministry. When Oklahoma Baptists became involved in Rose Day, the event went from a few heroic Catholics who went to the Oklahoma State Capitol each year with red roses for the elected officials, to the largest annual pro-life event in Oklahoma that has led directly to major public policy victories for life.
Feb. 3, 2016 will mark the 25th anniversary of Oklahoma Baptists becoming involved in Rose Day. The event is planned by the Rose Day Committee, which consists of representatives from the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, Oklahomans for Life, Catholic Charities and the Family Policy Institute of Oklahoma, among others.
Since its inception, Rose Day has accomplished at least three goals, which, by God’s grace, will continue.
Truly, the Rose Day event, and the entire pro-live movement, has united a wide array of people of faith. Yes, our doctrinal differences with Catholics remain, but we join hands under the banner of life and the belief that every person is made in the image of God. What is more, the event brings together young and old. During the rose distribution time and the rally itself, you will see men, women, teens, children—people of all ages and background—showing support for the unborn.
Throughout its history, Rose Day has brought in some of the leading voices in the fight for life. Past speakers include Abby Johnson, pro-life spokeswoman and former Planned Parenthood clinic director who recently testified before Congress; Alveda King, niece of civil rights movement icon Martin Luther King, Jr. and champion for life; Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life; Richard Land, former president of the ERLC; and Norma McCorvey, life activist and ‘Jane Roe’ of the Roe v. Wade court decision. Even greater motivation comes with the testimonies each year of how God works in the lives of people who have been affected by abortion.
/// Making a difference
Many rallies simply make a statement. Rose Day makes a difference. Since 1998 alone, 16 life-protecting laws have been passed in Oklahoma. Sadly, abortions in Oklahoma still take place each year, but fewer than in decades past. The rise of over-the-counter chemical abortion presents a challenge on the horizon, but through this event and other efforts, we can work to make abortion not only illegal, but unthinkable.
The question that remains is this: will you—the person reading this right now—will you take part in Rose Day? Whether you have participated each year or never have attended, will you—pastor, minister, deacon, church member—plan right now to attend Rose Day on Feb. 3, 2016 at the Oklahoma State Capitol? If so, that could mean all the difference between life and death.
For information on Rose Day, visit www.bgco.org/RoseDay.