By JOHN FORTMEYER, CNNW publisher
A pleasant, thoughtful 70-year-old with white hair and a genial smile, Gregg Cunningham seems a most unlikely person to surround himself with the stuff of pure horror.
It’s not that he enjoys it. Not one bit.
“I hate what I’m doing,” he said.
But Cunningham knows in his heart that he can’t quit. He staunchly believes the shocking, disturbing approach he and others take through his California-based Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) has for decades brought indescribable good by saving many precious lives and holds the potential to save countless more from what he unhesitatingly calls “child sacrifice.”
So he presses on with his highly controversial strategy to raise societal awareness of the evil of abortion, despite constant opposition — even from some fellow Christians, including many who are actively pro-life.
“The most maddening part of this is, we know how to win this, but we can’t overcome opposition in the church,” said Cunningham.
Cunningham was in Oregon last month for the third visit CBR has made to college campuses in the Northwest with its Genocide Awareness Project (GAP),
GAP is a mobile display that has reached millions of students on college and university campuses in the U.S. and Canada since 1998. The three-dimensional display, with more than 20 feet of banners on each side, juxtaposes images of aborted embryos and fetuses with images of victims of historical and contemporary genocides and other injustices.
The graphic images of abortion violence against the unborn are sickening and sure to elicit strong emotion. So troubling are the enlarged color photos that they could not be published in this or any other newspaper that strives to be suitable for family reading.
Even during the exhibit’s campus visits, those passing by are warned in advance about the content. For example, a large sign posted on a walkway at Lane Community College in Eugene stated “Warning: Genocide Photos Ahead.”
But the confrontational nature of the exhibit is intentional, said Cunningham, who said CBR aims to make the truth of abortion violence unavoidable.
“Look at the history of social reform,” he said. “There’s no history of any injustice being stopped by covering it up.”
CBR believes it very accurate to term abortion a genocide. Robert Seemuth, a retired dentist from Vancouver, Wash., and a North-west representative for CBR, noted that Globallifecampaign.com statistics re-ported to Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., concluded abortion is mankind’s most terrible genocide. In the past century, more than 1 billion surgical abortions in more than 100 nations mean one in six of all humans are gone.
The tour started in late September at Boise State University in Idaho, then moved briefly outside the Northwest, with visits in Utah to Weber State Uni-versity Oct. 2 and 3 and to Salt Lake Community Col-lege Oct. 4 and 5. Coming back to the Northwest, among the stops were Lane Community College Oct. 9 and 10, Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., Oct. 11 and 12, and back to Eugene at the University of Oregon, Oct. 18 and 19.
The schedule also specified a visit to Portland State University on Oct. 16 and 17, to be preceded by a training session by PSU’s Students for Life Club on Saturday, Oct. 14. But on Oct. 13, an email was sent to local media, including this newspaper, claiming to represent “hundreds of outraged PSU students and staff” calling for a rally in the university’s Smith Park Blocks on the 14th against GAP. The email challenged CBR’s assertion that abortion is a genocide.
“We will counter this sexist and racist claim and demand that anyone with a uterus has a right to decide what they do with it,” the email stated.
Because of confirmed reports that a protest of up to 200 people was in the works, as well as what CBR claimed was the university’s refusal to have uniformed campus police protect the club’s right to meet on campus, the training was instead moved to St. Patrick Catholic Church.
The GAP schedule originally called for a visit to Clark College in Vancou-ver, but according to CBR, the college resisted formation of a “Genocide Awareness and Human Rights” Club to bring GAP to campus. The college demanded an advisor, but none of seven faculty asked agreed to serve.
Although campus pro-tests are often organized against the exhibits, CBR notes pregnant college students often change their minds about aborting their babies after viewing the display and interacting with CBR staff and volunteers who dialogue with students around the display. After one visit to the University of Tennessee, CBR was told of eight women who changed their minds about ending their pregnancies.
Other students report to CBR the exhibit changed their thinking about pregnancy and abortion. The photos help them realize embryos and fetuses are not blobs of tissue and that abortion is not morally inconsequential.
According to CBR, the success of GAP in changing minds and hearts is not based solely on the shock value of the images. Instead, GAP educates students with information they are not likely to receive from pro-abortion faculty, or news media or entertainment sources.
CBR’s approach even recently drew positive comment from a school official.
“The dean of students at Boise State thanked us afterward about our message and professional demeanor,” said Seemuth. “In two days most of the students, staff and some in the community knew we were there and the message was visible for all to see. Discussions happened non-stop those two days.”
While in Portland, Cunningham was joined by Pastor Clenard Childress Jr. from New Jersey, founder and director of Blackge-nocide.org, in an Oct 15 pro-life rally at Holy Rosary Catholic Church. Also speaking were Dr. William Toffler of Oregon Health Sciences University and Corvallis resident Jeff Jimerson of Oregon Life United, which is currently gathering signatures state-wide for a November 2018 initiative vote on banning state abortion funding. That effort was recently bolstered by increased concern and awareness over the so-called “free abortions for all’ law passed this year by the Oregon Legislature that requires health insurance plans to pay in full for abotions.
“We’re very concerned about Oregon,” said Cunningham. National Right to Life and its affiliates across America generally have looked upon the use of graphic images as counterproductive in the fight against abortion. Lois Anderson, executive director of Oregon Right to Life, noted CBR is fully independent from her agency.
“We choose to use images of living developing children in our efforts to advocate for innocent human life and end abortion,” Anderson said. “More important than any disagreement over tactics is the hope that CBR’s displays on campuses in Oregon will prompt serious discussions about the violence of abortion at all stages of development.”
Cunningham vows CBR will continue its efforts, particularly as it challenges churches on their inaction regarding abortion.
“Satan loves, and God vomits out, lukewarm churches,” he said.
The graphic images can be seen at abortionno.org