Saturday, December 31, 2011

Predictions 2012 [Scott]

1. The pro-life movement will not be fully satisfied with the GOP nominee, but will recognize that its number one goal for the next eight years must be the defeat of the party that is sworn to uphold abortion.

2. President Obama will lose, unless the nominee is Ron Paul.

3. More pro-life Democrats will lose seats.

4. The pro-life student movement will grow two ways. First, it will grow numerically. Second, it will grow intellectually, moving from the mere study of apologetics to craving speech and debate training.

5. The "Friends for Life" camps will double in size this year.

6. The Dodgers will shock everyone by winning the National League West. The Angels, meanwhile, will barely finish above 500.

7. UCLA football will win 9 games in 2012 by including high school opponents and Jr. Colleges.

8. Romney-Santorum.

9. House--GOP +6; Senate GOP +4

10. Pro-life pregnancy centers will take a more active role reaching Catholic and Protestant high schools with abortion presentations--rather than merely focusing on abstinence talks.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Products of their culture [Megan]

Earlier this month, I stood before a room full of Fellowship of Christian Athlete students at a private high school and briefly addressed the difference between subjective truth and objective truth. Subjective truth, I told them, is truth that is created; it is a matter of preference; it tells you more about the subject than the object(s) in question. Objective truth, on the other hand, is truth that is discovered; it can be either right or wrong; it is true apart from the subject.
Afterward I borrowed a page from the playbook of Brett Kunkle from Stand to Reason and gave the students a quiz on the topic. I offered statements — “Reese’s Pieces are better than M&Ms. The leaves on the trees change with the seasons.” — and they responded with either “subjective” or “objective.”
They did great — until we got to the last two statements on the list.
When I said, “It is wrong to torture toddlers for fun” — a moral claim — only three students spoke. All three said, “subjective.”
“Interesting,” I told them, brows raised. “Let’s try one more. ‘Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’”
These very intelligent high school students were products of their culture. They are fired upon from every direction with the idea that moral and religious truths are subjective in nature. This idea has so permeated our society that issues like abortion are only to be discussed with caveats such as, “This is my truth, but you are free to believe differently.” This thinking is not only grossly wrong — it is dangerous.
Twenty minutes later, after a brief presentation on Christianity as an objective worldview, these students were on fire. Not only could they reasonably believe that their faith and the truths it upholds are objectively true — they could learn to defend them!
Many students lingered after the 25-minute presentation to share questions and thoughts, and departed only after the bell had rung signaling their first classes of the day. They wanted more. This was unlike anything they had heard before, and after years of nibbling on the basics, they had caught a glimpse of the decadent banquet before them and yearned to dig in!
Moments like that one — seeing the hunger and excitement and passion ignited in the eyes and minds of students of all ages — are what excite me most. I'm looking forward to more opportunities in 2012.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Exactly Right [Scott]

This author highlights a sad chapter in the pregnancy center movement.

My own 1999 article on the same subject caused no small stir.

Thankfully, there are many centers who buck the trend.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Debate Cross-Examination Done Right [Scott]

Done right, cross-examination helps your debate presentation three ways. First, it helps clarify your opponent’s extremist position. Second, it gives you opportunity to discredit his evidence (or lack thereof) and expose his flawed logic. Third, it allows you to gain information you can use later in the debate.

The rules for cross-x are simple: The person doing the questioning controls the exchange at that point in the debate. For example, when it’s your turn to cross-x your opponent, you may interrupt him at any point and move to the next question. While you shouldn’t be rude (give him reasonable time to answer, no more), you also shouldn’t let him ramble on.

Stephanie Gray of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform presents a textbook example of how it's done:

The Relevant Study of Evangelicals and Premarital Sex is Flawed [Scott]

Kevin Deyoung explains why we shouldn't buy the claim that 80 percent of Evangelicals are having premarital sex:

1. The study was conducted by the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute which has deep and historic ties to Planned Parenthood. There is every incentive, then, for this study to find that almost everyone is having sex and is in need of contraceptives (or abortion rights).

2. The survey's methodology is flawed. The study intentionally over-represented African Americans and Hispanics. In the 2010 census whites made up 63.7% of the U.S. population, blacks 12.2%, and Hispanics 16.3%. Yet, in the study cited by Relevant (and others) whites account for 50% of the sample, blacks 20%, and Hispanics 22%. Given the fact that 24% of white children are in single-parent homes, compared to 67% for African American children and 40% for Hispanic children, the disproportionate sampling in the National Survey likely has the effect of skewing the numbers toward indicating greater promiscuity.

3. We should also take into account the large number of persons who refused to take the survey. According to page 10 of this report over 100,000 phone calls were made to get a sample size of 1800. At least 12-15% of those “missed” surveys were refusals. Could it be that many sexually inactive young singles were uninterested in taking a survey almost entirely about contraceptives?

Kevin concludes as follows:

Statistics like the 80% need to be taken with a generous grain of salt. I don’t doubt that fornication is a big problem, bigger than most pastors realize. But when figures like 80% get thrown around we are led to believe (or flat out told) that Christians behave no different than anyone else.

And yet, consider two points.

1. Even using the numbers quoted in Relevant, it’s still the case that the percentage of celibate singles is almost twice as high for evangelicals and for everyone else. But that will not make headlines.

2. The National Survey, like most surveys, simply measures those who self-identify as evangelical. As you can see here, Question 80 of the study asks, “Do you consider yourself to be a born-again Christian, evangelical, or fundamentalist?” Only 476 of the 1800 said yes. Of these 476 unmarried 18-29 year-olds, apparently 80% have had sex before (although only 42% say they are currently in a sexual relationship). But we do not know what sort of “evangelicals” these 476 persons are. The next question in the survey (Q81) asks about frequency in attending religious services. It would be interesting to see the percentages of fornication among weekly churchgoers. Still too high no doubt, but probably much lower. As Bradley Wright argues in his book, there is a strong correlation between church attendance and more faithful sexual behavior across the board (Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites, 138-142). There are lots of nominal Christians in this country whose commitment consists of putting on a religious label for a survey. Looking at what people actually believe and examining their actual engagement with the church is a better mechanism for making claims about the rights and wrongs of Christian behavior.

Here’s the bottom line: don’t believe every stat you read. They are sometimes false and often kind of true, but the real shocking figures are rarely quite as much as meets the eye.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

In Their Own Words [Scott]

Dear Readers,

One two-week period a year, we ask you to help us. Life Training Institute depends on you, our fellow pro-lifers, to reach students with pro-life presentations. The students have no money to pay us to speak. And for the most part, neither do their schools.

So PLEASE, reach for your credit card (or checkbook) and send the most generous year-end gift you can.

I’ll let the students tell you first-hand why your gift matters. These comments all come from recent posts on my Facebook wall, save the last one which was sent to Megan's cell phone:

I attended a Summit Youth Conference at Bryan College last July and heard you speak on the topic of abortion. I just recently wrote an argumentative paper arguing that abortion is wrong, and very much of my paper was made up of some of the points that you made, especially the "S.L.E.D." acronym. I thank you very much for your constant service to the pro-life cause, and to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. God has done (and will do) much good through you, and I praise His name for that. May you and your family have a blessed Holiday season.

The Case For Life is such an incredible book. I am currently writing a persuasive essay about ESCR and your book has been a great help to me. It is exciting to share the truth with others. So thank you! Have a good one!

I have been waiting to tell you the good news. I began a chapter of teens for life at my high school after attending the teens for life summer camp. We had our first meeting and without an announcement made at school, we had 10 students all dedicated to utilizing their time and talents to the pro-life meeting. The training I received from you helped me begin this club because, since it is a public school, I am not allowed to make it an official club if it has religion in it.

I just wanted to say thank you and to let you know of the progress I have made since the summer.


Just wanted to let you know that I used a lot of your techniques that I learned at Summit Ministries today. I gave a speech on why abortion is wrong, and there was a mini debate after I finished. So I just wanted to thank you and let you know that you had an enormous impact on my life.

Scott, Tabby had to write and present a persuasive argument against abortion...The professor said he has taught for 30 years (college level speech classes) and has seen many presentations on this topic, but has never seen it presented in this way, nor as well done! Tabby told him that she was “Klusendorf-trained!”
-Lori (Parent)

Megan, Thank you so much for coming this morning! You were amazing. You have no idea how many people and teachers came up to me saying how much they enjoyed your presentation and how they’ve always wanted someone to explain worldview to them. Thank you so much!

-Maddie, 18

Please make your gift here.

Thank you!


Friday, December 9, 2011

Get to the Point! Pro-Life Speaking Without Losing Your Mind [Scott]

I just finished the manuscript for a book that, for the moment, goes by the above title. Release date is roughly June 1, Lord willing. Below is the introduction.

In his “No More Excuses” seminar, pro-life apologist Gregg Cunningham asks this question:

“Are any of your fears about pro-life speaking worth the price of unborn lives that could have been saved if you were more courageous?”

If you are pro-life, you’ve just been summoned to speak. But now what?

The thesis of this book is that engaging pro-life speakers are not born; they are organized. They march into a speaking event knowing exactly what they will say, how they will say it, and why it matters to their audience. With a little sweat, you can be that organized. You don’t have to be cool or clever. You don’t need a graduate degree. You just need to be clear. This book will show you how. In short, my objective is to turn you from a quiet pro-life Christian to an effective pro-life communicator—whether your audience has seven people or seven hundred.

Notice I said “effective” not “professional.” Put simply, mastering this book will not land you a keynote address at a major Christian conference, or even a pro-life one. It will not get you noticed or paid—at least right away. A professional conference speaker fine-tunes his craft for years, and reading a short book like this will not make you a pro.

But it may start you impacting the very audiences most at risk for abortion. Let’s be honest: Most people attending major Christian conferences aren’t contemplating killing their unborn offspring. But three blocks over is a Catholic high school with 400 students, half of them secular. Two blocks beyond is an evangelical one filled with kids who struggle articulating a biblical worldview on a host of topics, including abortion. And in between are 20 church youth groups, almost none of which have ever featured a pro-life presentation. The keynote speaker at the Christian conference won’t be reaching those kids.

But you might.

Let’s take a closer look at your audience. Inside that Catholic school is a frustrated religion teacher who knows that many of his students are not buying church teaching on abortion, but he’s clueless how to change things. His own surveys reveal that only 25 percent of his students think moral truth is real and knowable. The rest are full-blown relativists. He’s looking for reinforcements, but the previous pro-life speaker bored the kids to tears with statistics and a disjointed personal testimony. He won’t schedule you for a full assembly until he sees what you can deliver, but he’ll let you try your stuff with 21 kids in his tenth grade religion class. You bite. This book will prepare you for what happens next.

Down the street, an evangelical youth pastor laments the loss of critical thinking in his students. He worries that once they graduate, the secular university will devour what little faith they have. Your pro-life talk is 40 minutes, but he wonders if they’ll listen beyond the 140 characters allowed by Twitter.

Is serious pro-life content dead on arrival in the age of social networking? Should pro-life speakers sacrifice truth that requires students to think? The correct response to Twitter is not surrender, but equipping. Pro-life speakers must present compelling arguments that can compete in the marketplace of ideas. It stretches the mind, but kids can take it. In fact, they want it. My own experience confirms this.

Each year I speak to thousands of students at Catholic and Protestant high schools. My talks run 60 minutes and other than a short DVD clip depicting abortion, I skip all media gadgetry. Instead, I engage students with a robust defense of the pro-life position. Almost always the schools want me back. Meanwhile, college students are showing a growing interest in pro-life apologetics. In 2011, I delivered a keynote address to collegians at the annual Students for Life of America Conference in Washington D.C. Roughly 60 students attended the 2004 conference. The 2011 conference sold out with over 1,800 registrants from 150 campuses. Twitter or not, these students appreciate clear thinking presented in a winsome manner.

Admittedly, this book is nowhere near an exhaustive treatment of public speaking. It’s more like an expanded outline, having only two major divisions. Part one gives you principles for organizing, then delivering, persuasive pro-life content to students in Catholic and Protestant high schools. Even if you’re a rookie, you can deliver a solid pro-life talk if you do five things right:

1. Ask five essential questions before you speak
2. Organize your scattered thoughts into a razor sharp focus
3. Say it well so people listen
4. Graciously use abortion pictures for maximum impact
5. Invite yourself to speak

While pro-life Christians everywhere can use these principles to great effect, pregnancy centers enjoy a unique advantage. They already enjoy excellent reputations in their communities, making access to the students easier. My hope is they will capitalize on that advantage.

Part two applies those principles to debates and is addressed primarily to pro-life college and graduate students, right to life staffers, and apologetics geeks. At the edge of town sits the state college. A student from the campus pro-life group is organizing a debate with a local Planned Parenthood official and he wants you to represent the pro-life view. I know what you’re thinking: “Okay, speaking to a 10th grade religion class at the local Catholic high school is challenging enough. Doing a debate in front of college kids is simply out of the question.” Oh? Why would you think a thing like that? First, debates are an excellent way to reach students at public universities. Second, you can engage abortion-choice advocates in a public forum—and live to tell about it—if you follow eight steps to a successful debate:

1. Define Victory
2. Negotiate a Good Format
3. Frame the Debate with Your Opening
4. Narrate the Debate with Your Rebuttal
5. Expose Bankrupt Arguments
6. Ask Good Questions
7. Take Good Notes
8. Train Harder than Your Opponent

Consider Gregg’s question again: “Are any of your fears about pro-life speaking worth the price of unborn lives that could have been saved if you were more courageous?”

If the answer is no, it’s time to turn the page on timidity. It’s time to get organized.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Election Questions [Scott]

How should we prioritize election issues?

Justin Taylor answers here.

My (similar) answer is here.