This post is to catch you up on the most exciting developments at Equal Rights Institute, where we’re headed next year, and how I’d like you to prayerfully consider partnering with us financially.
It’s been a busy season of speaking at ERI! Last year we gave 36 speeches and seminars all over the country as well as Canada and Denmark, speaking to 3,978 people. That’s a 44% increase in the number of speeches, but to roughly the same number of people we spoke to last year, meaning we spoke at more small events than we did last year, like high school/college clubs and church groups. All in all Tim, Rachel, and I spoke in Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, California, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Arizona, Canada, and Denmark!
Let me share a few stories from the last few months since I’ve already talked a lot about my international trips training the pro-life movement abroad in the first half of this year.
In late August I had the chance to share about ERI for the first time at my new church, Life Fellowship Church in Cornelius, NC. Over the course of both services, I shared ERI’s vision and the Equal Rights Argument with 1,200 people! Several of those people have already begun supporting ERI, as has the church.
A week later I traveled to Miami University in Ohio to speak on bodily rights arguments. Over 100 students attended, from both sides of the abortion debate. I spoke for about an hour and then took questions from both pro-life and pro-choice people about the analogies I presented, how to respond to the “you’re a man” argument, and more.
I spent most of the next few hours at a dessert reception hanging out with a pro-choice, disability-rights activist who really appreciated what I had to say about the pro-choice argument that babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome should be aborted and an awesome pro-choice philosophy professor. I had heard of him ahead of time from one of the pro-life students who described him as “the pro-choice Josh Brahm,” so naturally I had to meet him! His name is Jason, and he really enjoyed my talk and we spent most of the evening talking philosophy. At one point he even exclaimed that I may be “the most dangerous Christian in the world,” because of my combination of open-mindedness and a charitable approach to the philosophical arguments that are easier for the other side to listen to. That combination is a feature of all of ERI’s speakers, and it’s a big part of why we’re having such a powerful impact on the people we speak to.
After the event the leader of the Students for Life club sent a thank you note that included this:
It was truly an honor to have you speak at Miami University. After the hours we’ve spent watching course videos, listening to podcast, and reading articles, it was a pleasure for each of us to meet you in person. Thank you for bringing ERI’s unique brand of culturally-relevant, deeply compassionate, and philosophically compelling pro-life advocacy to Miami’s campus . . . Wherever God may take me next, I know I will carry what I have learned from you with me and I will always be a grateful supporter of ERI!
A few weeks later Timothy Brahm traveled to the University of Michigan with Rachel Crawford and Jacob Nels, where Tim gave a presentation on bodily rights arguments. This is our most requested public presentation right now, and we love the opportunity it gives us to engage with pro-choice students by taking their arguments seriously. This was a memorable talk because it was by far the best Q&A Tim has ever seen! It went on for more than 90 minutes, and a remarkable number of different students asked excellent and insightful questions.
In addition to the presentation, Tim, Jacob, and Rachel did two days of outreach with the club. On the first day, they had the opportunity to oversee two students engaging in a long conversation with a bioethics professor. Rachel recognized the professor because she had taken a class with her during her time as a student at the University of Michigan. Rachel decided to listen to the conversation closely in case the students needed support. The president of the pro-life club, Nicole, wanted to push back against some of the advanced bodily rights arguments the professor made but wasn’t sure how to do so. Rachel pulled Nicole away from the conversation and dissected what was philosophically going on in the professor’s arguments and advised Nicole on how she should respond. The student was able to resume the conversation and present the information she just learned from Rachel. The dialogue ended very positively and we have heard from Nicole that she was able to have a follow-up conversation a few weeks later with the professor at a coffee shop on campus!
Last year we published 25 articles, four more than the previous year, which were read by just over 34,000 people. That’s our one measured metric that went down last year, by roughly 14%, while our podcast downloads and YouTube views both doubled in the last year! This matches the trend that we’ve been predicting for the last year, that slowly fewer people will become educated by reading blog articles and more will be educated through podcasts and YouTube videos.
So these stats are what we expected to happen, and is why we spent some of the last year acquiring the equipment to film high-quality YouTube videos that we can use to equip the next generation of pro-life advocates to have more productive conversations with pro-choice people, the kinds of conversations where people actually change their minds. A local church is building office space and we will be moving there as soon as construction is complete, and we will have space for a video studio where we can regularly make short, high-quality, training videos. In the meantime, we’ll be looking for opportunities to set up the equipment in other locations and start shooting videos soon, like the way I shot my response to the “Reversing Roe” documentary in a volunteer’s living room. That video series has been really well-received, with many people saying that it helped teach them about biased editing tricks that they wouldn’t have caught, but are now inoculated against in the future when they watch videos about the abortion issue!
Based on our many conversations with pro-life high-school and college students about how we can serve them better, this has been the clear answer: they want free, easy-to-digest content that they can watch on their phones. Thanks to you investing in our work, we will be giving them exactly that!
The main project our team has been working on this year is something that nobody will see until next year, because it was such a massive project, and that’s our new sidewalk counseling course. As you may remember, we realized a few years ago that Jacob Nels had created some innovative and very effective sidewalk counseling techniques while going out every week for the last five or so years. Given that Jacob can teach people how to save lives on the sidewalk in a more practically helpful way than I’ve ever seen done before, the fact that many of our followers were already asking for training from us in this area, AND the fact that we recorded two podcasts with Jacob on this topic that some people said was the best sidewalk counseling training they’d ever had, it became fairly obvious that we should invest in a more comprehensive course on the subject. Since we had already figured out that making videos was a direction that we were headed, we wanted to save precious resources by investing in that equipment now and shooting the course with it instead of paying for studio time somewhere and then buying the equipment soon after. So I got busy researching the kinds of cameras, lights, and microphones we should get that would get us the quality we wanted without spending more than necessary while Tim and Rachel worked closely alongside Jacob to work out what we teach on the course. This was one of the toughest projects either of them have had at ERI, because it involved having to make some really philosophically complicated discussions about certain things that some sidewalk counselors do and say, and what of that we should teach and what we shouldn’t. While it was a bigger project than any of us realized at first, I’m proud to say that Tim, Rachel, and Jacob have done an AMAZING job of working these decisions out.
We have now shot the entire course, so while Tim works closely with our awesome volunteer Tony Johnson on editing the content of what we shot, the rest of us are working on the new website and preparing a strong launch so that we can equip as many people as possible to save more lives on the sidewalk. This course is going to save lives! And it’s all thanks to our donors who have made our work possible.
That brings me to a need that is coming up. While we’ve raised everything we need to complete the sidewalk counseling course, we haven’t yet raised what we need to move into our video studio, where our rent will be going up by $1,300 a month. It’s really exciting to be in final prep to start putting out frequent pro-life videos, but it naturally comes with increased operating costs. All in all, we need to raise $50,000 in new and/or increased donations to be in good financial state.
Your gift will directly help our team to make a greater impact next year. Please take some time to prayerfully consider what you can do with what God has given you to help us train more pro-life advocates to save more lives next year. As always, you can give a one-time gift or make a monthly pledge at EqualRightsInstitute.com/Donate.
Thank you so much for the prayers and financial support you have already blessed us with. It’s made a real difference, as our followers around the world continue to tell us with their own personal stories of how they’ve been changed by our work. Thank you for taking this journey with us!
Josh Brahm, for the ERI staff