Dear Catholic Herald Reader,
I wanted to tell you about a terrible situation that has arisen. Peaceful Pro-Life campaigners are now being arrested and jailed for giving out Pro-Life information, not in some third world country, but right here, in our country.
Recently my dear friend and veteran ProLifer, Mr Edward Atkinson was removed from his own home by Norfolk Police and held for six hours. His crime? sending anti-abortion literature to his local hospital, a hospital that carries our abortions by the hundreds every year. Edward (Ted) had written to the managers begging them to stop the barbaric practice of child killing. Ted also sent me a copy of his letter. It was polite, well constructed and courteous, and the literature he had concluded was no more graphic than the horror taking place within its own walls. The hospital managers tried to portray Ted as some kind of religious fanatic. Ted is 74, uses a walking frame and suffers from diabetes. He is a very devout man who has also served his country proudly in the forces. But worse followed. A week later, more Police officers arrived at Ted's door.
They arrested him and took him to Norwich Jail amongst murderers. rapists and drug dealers. He was sentenced to .1ix weeks in prison for the 'crime' of showing the truth and daring to ask those responsible to love the babies instead of killing them.
Massive Public Outcry
This over-reaction by the courts would have gone unnoticed if I hadn't intervened and got The LifeLeague to swing into action. Our volunteers spent many days writing and telephoning every MP, Lord, Bishop, priest and minister and newspaper we could find.
In 5 days we sent out 32,000 mail alerts, contacted hundreds of political and religious representatives and briefed all the leading secular and religious newspapers throughout the UK and Ireland. It worked, we created a media storm and a public outcry.
I appeared on seven T.V. and radio
broadcasts, and was able to draw attention to this brave and humble man's plight, and to set the record straight. Very few individuals were prepared to speak out in defence of Ted. I suppose it's understandable considering how dangerous it is now for Christians to challenge the system.
I felt compelled to speak out in defence of Ted, and I will continue to support all those who sacrifice themselves by standing up for the weak and defenceless in our society.
All Christians now under threat
I am determined to do all I can to assist those humble and peaceful people who are increasingly being denied their civil and religious rights.
What is happening is quite frightening. Scarcely a week goes by without hearing of Christian campaigners being harassed, quizzed or arrested for doing no more than peacefully demonstrating or praying outside a.clinic.
Remember. these people are doing nothing wrong. They are decent law abiding citizens who are falling foul of misapplied Public Order Acts. Threatening these people with arrest is a gross misuse of the law and we need to prove this in court.
In some cases, people have faced arrest for expressing their sincerely heal religious views. This is a disgraceful situation which we must resist. If we don't it will certainly get worse, and I believe that widespread suppression of the truth will be given the green light by our inaction or indifference.
We must combine prayers with ethical action.
I want to set up a modest yet effective fighting fund to help those who are being persecuted. These people need to have access to professional legal advice and support, even using Christian lawyers costs money. But without legal advice the situation for those in need is very bleak indeed. We also need to publicise their plight to as many people as possible. Again, this costs money.
Professional representatives does make a difference. Last year the Metropolitan ' Police refused to let me demonstrate outside the Chinese Embassy in London. Myself and other LifeLeague activists were threatened with imprisonment if we dared to highlight China's disgusting forced abortion policy.
The Apostle St Paul used the law, so must we.
For weeks I explored every avenue and got nowhere. I contacted a Christian barrister who prepared a submission for a 'High Court Judicial Review' which was sent to the Chief Constable. Incredibly that did the trick. Without appearing in the High Court our protest and prayer vigil went ahead without incident.
God moved and blessed our witness, because eight days after our vigil, the Chinese Government announced that it has stopped forced abortions and those responsible would be prosecuted. A fantastic result, I'm sure you'll agree, but it left us with a legal bill of several thousand pounds. This is a fraction of what this kind of action should cost.
Ann Widdecombe MP speaks out
So you see, with our civil rights under attack as never before, and the government determined to silence the Pro-Life movement, it is vital that we establish a fighting fund. As Ann Widdecombe MP said "Pro-Lifers are being picked on because we offend the existing position, and in this oppressive age, that is becoming a crime in itself".
Ann Widdecombe has hit the nail on the head. The government are attempting to criminalise the entire Pro-Life movement. That's why I need you to help me set up a 'Truth and Justice Fighting Fund'. It is now the case that Christians who challenge the wickedness in our society are regarded as either extremists or religious nutcases. But hasn't that always been the way. Think of our martyrs throughout history. They suffered because they wouldn't and couldn't keep silent, neither should we.
I urgently need your help in challenging this evil plan. Make no mistake, if we don't stand up to this present form of bullying, tyranny will surely follow. If you think I am exaggerating consider this.
Hospital refuses Ted hip replacement operation.
Not only was Ted Atkinson arrested and thrown in Jail. he was also struck off the Hospital's list for his much needed hip replacement. The hospital has said it will refuse to treat him unless he is dying.
In Birmingham a devout grandmother who is wheelchair bound is facing jail after being prosecuted. Her crime? sending Pro-Life literature to Cheinists who sell the Morning After Pill.
Wheelchair bound grandmother also faces prison She was found guilty and now this woman faces a jail sentence for her beliefs. She has appealed to the High Court using the barrister who helped me with the Chinese Embassy. Thank God there are men of faith willing to help Pro-life Christians within the legal establishment.
I implore you to search your heart and to commit to helping me establish this vital 'Truth and Justice Fund'. The arrest, harassment and intimidation of activists is a new strategy being employed to prevent the truth from reaching the public. It will work if we do nothing.
This is happening because The Pro-Life Campaign is having an effect The authorities clearly feel under pressure by a resurgent Pro-Life movement, so we should be glad. Their over reaction is a sign that we are making a dent in the ProAbortion defences.
Right now we stand at a crossroads. You can choose to get behind this project to establish a fighting fund or you can turn your back and hope it will go away. I'm sure we can defeat the dark forces who would silence us. To walk away will only lead to a great erosion of our hard won civil and religious liberties, and leave the unborn without a voice.
We must not allow this to happen. so please, think carefully about how serious this situation has become and how vital the fighting fund is. I need your financial support to establish this lifeline of mercy.
The persecution is spreading
I also need people praying for the brave men and women who are, right now, being persecuted for Christ's sake in the UK and Ireland. (Only 3 weeks ago two men were arrested for praying outside an Irish refetTal agency).
The success or failure in fending off these serious threats to our freedom, and in our ability to support those who are picked on, depends on our response to this challenge. Do we march on proclaiming The 'Gospel of Life'? Or do we ignore their plight and allow more brave souls to be picked off? This battle is real, and it cannot be won without your help. That's why I am asking you to dig deep and give in a sacrificial way. Really show support by giving By doing so you will be making a bold stand for truth. It's not often we can express ourselves in such a way, so please, to get behind me on this important . initiative.
You and I are their only hope Your money could mean the difference betweenerPta_Lei in prison_surrounded by violent offenders, or being home surrounded by their children or grandchildren.
If good men and woman are brave enough to stand up for the unborn in a dignified and peaceful manner, in the face of intimidation the least you and I can do is to ensure their civil and religious rights are defended in law.
We must also make provision for their temporal needs
For example, Ted was fined £500, which the authorities are clawing back from the pittance of Social Security he receives. What is happening is wrong, and it is our responsibility before God to alleviate the suffering of these good souls and those who will follow them. Next week it might be me they come for, or one day maybe even you. Who would be there to help you and to fight for your rights. I'll tell you who, The LifeLeazue and the 'Truth and Justice Fund'.
Please send whatever you can afford right away. Every gift will be deeply appreciated and put to good use. And remember The LifeLeague is a voluntary group so every penny you send will go into the fighting fund. Please send what you can Today Ask yourself, can you afford not too?
Yours in life,
James Dowson National Coordinator
P.S. Ted's time in prison was well spent, he occupied his time by persuading the other prisoners to take down the pornooraphic pictures that bedecked their cell walls, in fact the governor said he wished all the inmates were like Ted. People like him are salt of the earth that's why I am sure you'll want to help defend them. So please send your most generous contribution right away before you forget about it, it's too important to overlook!