After the pro-life documentary film 180 was published on the Internet [last]week, the spellbinding display of young people changing their views about abortion in real time was an instant hit, garnering over 320,000 views on Youtube in only four days (Click here to watch the movie on Youtube.).
New Zealand Christian minister Ray Comfort, creator of 180 and the interviewer in the film, answered some questions from LifeSiteNews.com Friday about what happened when the cameras were off, what he considers his secret weapon, and what he says is the number one mistake pro-lifers make when discussing abortion.
LSN: The video starts after you’ve already got people talking, but I’m curious how you get the conversations started. Where did this take place? How did you grab your interlocutors’ attention without “turning them off”?
COMFORT: Some of the conversations were at Huntington Beach here in Southern, California, some were at a local university, some on the streets, and one or two from other parts of the country. I would begin an interview by asking the question “Have you heard of Adolf Hitler?” If they said, “No,” I had the difficult task of getting them on camera. It was hard to hide my shock that anyone didn’t know who Hitler was, and the moment they suspected that they should know about him they refused because they felt foolish. So there were a number of interviews I missed out on because of that.
Still, we were able to get 14 people on-camera (mainly university students) who didn’t have a clue who Adolf Hitler was. The swing from the Holocaust to abortion was fairly seamless because it came in the form of a question—“How do you feel about abortion?” Then came “Do you think it’s a baby in the womb?” If they said that they thought it was a baby in the womb, I asked if they could think of any justification for taking its life.
The only people who became angry were the two women who had painted their bodies silver. After one admitted that she couldn’t kill Jews but other people should have the right to kill them, she must have realized what she had just said. She then became angry, and walked off. However, each of the others were genuinely moved by the interview.
Alicia (the blond with pigtails) kept saying, “This has been a powerful moment!” Unbeknown to me, she had been watching Holocaust footage of an American soldier (after the liberation of the Concentration Camps) in a bulldozer, weeping as he buried masses of Jewish bodies. She had been deeply touched by what she saw, and then two days later I stopped her on the streets and put her in the same scenario. That’s why you see her lips tremble on “180,” when I asked her the question about burying Jews. It was an amazing moment.
LSN: You don’t often see people smiling when confronted about abortion – but there is a lot of smiling in this video. Why is that?
COMFORT: It’s normal when people are a little nervous. However, I try and keep a heavy subject light.
LSN: Did the course of the conversation ever surprise you? When?
COMFORT: I was surprised that so many said that they could bury another person alive. I felt sickened, but at the same time I don’t know if I believed others when they quickly said that they would take the bullet, rather than do it. I guess it takes a lot of soul-searching. It certainly is a character-test for each of us.
The other thing that surprised me was that so many said that it was a baby in the womb, and yet they still said that terminating the pregnancy was a woman’s choice. After giving them some knowledge that made them change their minds, I realized that so many have been brainwashed—and that all they need is information to give them another perspective.
That’s why we are giving away 200,000 copies of “180” at 100 top universities in one day, this October. We want pro-life organizations and others to join us and give them away in their own areas. If you stand outside a high school or university as people are leaving you will find that free DVD’s go like hot cakes on a cold day in Alaska. We make them available for only $1 each, and they are a quality item, so who isn’t going to take a free one—especially in today’s economy?
LSN: What’s the number one mistake people make when trying to dialogue about abortion? (Please give more than one, if more come to mind.)
COMFORT: This is such an emotional issue because we are talking about the murder of human beings, so it’s very easy to become frustrated and let anger take over. But that is a mistake because almost every pro-abortion person has been deceived into thinking that a woman has more rights than a “fetus.”
For example, this was in the comments section of Youtube: “The fetus is a parasite because the classification of the biological relationship that is based on the behavior of one organism (the fetus) and how it relates to the woman’s body… as a zygote, it invaded the woman’s uterus using its Trophoblast cells and hijacked her immune system by using Neurokinin B—-so her body won’t KILL it, and stole the her nutrients to survive? and causes her harm or potential DEATH! A woman has a right? to remove it.” That’s the cold way many of today’s generation interpret the miracle of a woman being “with child” (as the Bible consistently puts it). So self-control is essential.
It’s as though you are pleading with a hardened German officer who is about to make a decision as to whether or not a certain Jew is to be shot. You have an opportunity to influence his decision, so how can you not be passionate? But you must choose your words carefully and remain calm, because you can’t afford to anger him and have him dismiss you.
I think that it’s also a mistake to ignore the human conscience. Even though it may not be clearly evident in portions of “180,” it is the conscience that is being addressed. Every sane person has a God-given knowledge of right and wrong, and this should be stirred from its slumber. There’s an effective way to do this. All it takes is a passion for the unborn, and a little practice. That’s why we produced the “180 Course.” I asked Kay Arthur and Randy Alcorn to contribute to a 64-page study-guide that comes with two DVD teachings (with Kirk Cameron). The course teaches what to say, to see people change their minds about the horror of abortion. Details are on www.heartchanger.com
LSN: How would you sum up what makes a conversation about abortion fruitful, instead of just an argument? What’s your secret weapon?
COMFORT: If there is a secret weapon, it’s love. Love swallows fear.
No doubt during World War II, many good Germans protested about the treatment of Jews, and lost their lives in doing so. We don’t need to pay such a cost to make a stand. We have it relatively easy. We can hand out “180” and let it talk for us. But if we want to speak up ourselves, there is something that will help us to achieve that with proficiency.
You don’t remember doing it, but there was a time when you applied yourself to the skill of crawling. Then you tried walking, and no doubt got some bruises in the process. Then you applied yourself to learn how to ride a bike, and then to drive a car. You did those things because you wanted to. You wanted to become proficient in them, and you wanted it enough to take the knocks. How much more worthy is the pro-life cause? All those skills were for yourself, but the “skill” of changing people’s minds about abortion, is for others. That takes a self-sacrificing and unselfish love.
LSN: What’s the role of prayer for you in these conversations? Do you pray before, after, or while you do this?
COMFORT: Prayer to me is like breathing. I pray before, during, and after conversations. It gives me life. However, there are times (like breathing) where it’s an unconscious act, and it goes hand-in-hand with having a complete trust in God. I keep in mind that if I don’t rely on God for help, there will be no life in what I say.
LSN: Is what you did in this video possible without prayer?
LSN: You’re evidently very skilled at this ministry, and it’s something I think a lot of us are afraid to try. You told me before that anyone can follow the pattern you set, although I’m honestly having trouble believing that. It seems like you have a lot of experience with debate or public speaking. Is that true? What would you tell someone hesitant to say the first word?
COMFORT: It’s easy to feel a sense of inadequacy when looking at or listening to anyone who is proficient at something. This is whether they are an actor, a comedian, or someone who is a skilled tennis player. In almost every case, they will tell you that they got to the point they are at through hard work. It took character and muscle to get them to the place of what is perceived by many to be a skill with which they were born.
But in truth, many of these people started surrounded by poverty, a physical disability, or an inferiority complex, but they let resistance build muscle and character. They will also be the first to tell you that if you don’t take the first step, you will do nothing. You will keep yourself in the mediocrity of a self-imposed and lonely vacuum. The “180 Course” will help you break out of that and take that first step.