Urbana Stopped Students for Life From Exhibiting but Gave #BlackLivesMatter Center Stage

Activist Michelle Higgins speaks to attendees of the Urbana '15 student missions conference, St. Louis, Missouri, December 28, 2015.
Activist Michelle Higgins speaks to attendees of the Urbana '15 student missions conference, St. Louis, Missouri, December 28, 2015. | (Photo: Screengrab/Vimeo/Urbama '15)

Young people are assaulted on a daily basis with messages contrary to those of the moral values of Christianity — love, mercy, compassion, and respect for life. The media, social networks, music, school, and even family challenge the hearts and minds of young, Christian students every day, especially on the critical issue of protecting life in its most vulnerable stage in the mother's womb.

Kristan Hawkins is the president of Students for Life of America.
Kristan Hawkins is the president of Students for Life of America.

While science has clearly proven life begins at conception, many in the secular world have an entirely other idea of whether that little life should be given human rights. But then again, maybe the secular world can be forgiven for holding such a view. But what happens when young, Christian students aren't supported in their pro-life views from other Christian organizations, ones that supposedly follow Christ-like teachings of love and compassion and the calling to protect those who cannot speak for themselves?

Then we have a problem.

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Rock for Life, a key initiative of the largest national pro-life organization Students for Life of America, exhibited at 35 concerts, conferences and events last year alone. Our mission is to reach young Christians with the pro-life message — sometimes it's the only pro-life message these young adults will hear. I've been with Rock for Life at some of their summer concerts and have heard heartbreaking stories of Christians who had abortions because they had no support from their community and family. That's a huge failure on the church — in fact, nearly three out of every four women who have abortions report an affiliation with a Christian denomination.

Bottom line is that Rock for Life is reaching young adults at a critical time in their lives with messages of love and support for women who are facing unplanned pregnancies, which most Christian organizations truly see as a good thing for their events.

Not so for InterVarsity's Urbana Student Missions Conference, which took place this past week between Christmas and New Year's. Students for Life and Rock for Life were denied the chance to exhibit at the conference because, according to an email from the Exhibits Manager, "… Students for Life does not align with Urbana's exhibitor criteria. One of our key criteria for exhibitors is to have advancing God's global mission as the vision and purpose of their organization."

So helping young women to choose life doesn't align with God's global mission? Or what about educating students and training them to talk about abortion, our world's greatest human rights injustice, on their campuses in a loving way?

Recruiting potential employees for Students for Life is probably also an affront to God's global mission, according to Urbana. Urbana coined their event to students as "There's no other place where you can explore so many options for your future with so many people and organizations committed to making a positive difference in the world."

But not the positive difference of holding a baby shower for a single mother trying to finish her college degree and having a child? That's not positive enough for Urbana.

While InterVarsity denied Students for Life and Rock for Life an exhibit table, they devoted an entire evening to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, a movement which has publicly called for the lynching and hanging of white people and the death of police. One of their Black Lives Matter speakers even took the time to publicly disparage the pro-life movement during her remarks.

Racism is perhaps one of the most prominent aspects of abortion. Black women constitute 13% of the population but nearly 37% of all abortions take the lives of black babies. Since Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that made abortion legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy, over 16 million black babies have been aborted.

This is a travesty — and one that the #BlackLivesMatter movement has failed to recognize. Urbana could have talked about it, but they didn't.

They didn't let the nation's largest youth pro-life organization exhibit to 16,000 students this week because they decided that advancing the pro-life message and trying to change the culture to make abortion unthinkable isn't something our Lord and Creator would like.

I believe that in order to achieve our mission of ending abortion, we need Christians across America united and that includes InterVarsity. It is my hope that InterVarsity reflects on the message they sent to their young, Christian students at Urbana. And I'm praying they read this response and open the doors for communication, allowing Students for Life and the others in the pro-life movement to work with them in the future to right this wrong and work together, advancing the Lord's will, to serve women and save children of all colors and end abortion in our nation.

Kristan Hawkins is the President of Students for Life of America, the nation's largest pro-life youth organization with over 700 groups nationwide. She is author of the new book, Courageous: Students Abolishing Abortion in this Lifetime. Erik Whittington is president of Rock for Life.

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