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There’s a need.
Right now there are approximately 900 pro-life clubs on high-school and college campuses across the country. One of our partners, Students for Life of America, has done a fantastic job starting these clubs and providing them with coaching and logistical support they need to be effective. This is where the mission of ERI comes in to help students make their groups even more effective, by partnering with SFLA, we are training their club members to have productive conversations with the pro-choice students on their campuses.
Here’s the problem.
No pro-life organization can physically go to every club and train them in person. Several pro-life groups are going to one or two dozen a year. Those that get to more don’t typically spend much time training the pro-life students from that university. But it’s those students who have the best opportunity to change hearts and minds on their campus, because they are the ones who will have the most long-term exposure to local pro-choice students.
There are hundreds of campuses with pro-life clubs where no pro-life apologists go, but there are students there who are killing their babies every month. The pro-life students are there and are organized, but they desperately need to be equipped to create the kinds of dialogues where people actually change their minds. Who’s going to train them?
We have a solution.
We’re creating a comprehensive online training course that any pro-life club can take together. Our course will be designed for pro-life college clubs, but will be available to any person or group who wants to take it. When a club registers for the course, they will get a login to a website that will feature more than a dozen primary training modules, broken down into smaller units. The club will watch short videos together of an ERI staff member explaining a topic. They will also have access to optional bonus videos of us roleplaying these ideas, for those students who learn better by watching people demonstrate in real-time the concepts they just learned. Then the club leader will pass out training handouts she printed before the meeting so that everybody else can put the idea into practice, and eventually use it without the handouts!
If you’re like me, you need to hear concepts explained multiple times to really digest it. This makes our live seminars challenging for people who learn that way, because they can’t go back and listen to the seminar over and over again. We are designing this course so that it’s helpful to different types of learners. For example, we’ll help audible learners by making all of this material available as MP3 downloads, so they can listen to the course as many times as they want.
Our vision is for every pro-life college student in the world to have access to a course that trains them in the art of gracious, persuasive conversations.
We’re the right people to create this course.
“Josh Brahm is a great ambassador for the pro-life movement, and we’re excited to work with Equal Rights Institute on campuses nationwide to help train the next generation of pro-life activists. It’s not only their arguments that are effective, but also the innovative and creative ways they present them.”
Kristan Hawkins, President, Students for Life of America
We’re teaching apologetics in the way that we have found to be the most effective, and it’s much different than it was even two years ago. We have honed our methods through the fire of outreach and thousands of conversations with strangers, walking with people in the context of personal friendship, and hours and hours of intense internal philosophical discussion. We’re taking the most important ideas that have come out of that work and putting them in this course. That includes apologetics, but also the practical maneuvering that we’ve learned through a combination of research and trial-by-error, learning-by-doing.
We’ve come a long way and made lots of well-intentioned mistakes in the 13 years we’ve been doing pro-life work. Our goal is to, in as succinct and digestible a way as possible, help the students who take our course to come to a place of conversing well about abortion without having to make the same mistakes that we did.
Knowing that I wanted to create this course 18 months ago, I started taking online training courses to see what some of the best online trainers in the country do. Those experiences are already helping me to design a course that will be optimized for our core audience. I also have six years of experience producing pro-life media. I hosted a pro-life podcast that trained pro-life people to dialogue better about abortion, while using language that attracted pro-choice listeners as well. It was a huge success, eventually turning into a local TV and radio show, with thousands of listeners in six continents, many of whom listened to all 199 episodes that I helped produce. That experience combined with the study I’ve done on best standard practices for blogging and social media will all help me to produce this course well.
What will be included in the course?
Our training modules will include practical dialogue tips, like how to be intentional with body language. It will also include apologetics, teaching the arguments we have found to be the most persuasive to today’s college students.
The goal of the course is not for pro-life people to merely feel more confident about their pro-life beliefs. It’s to equip and motivate them to talk to people, so we’ll help them learn how to get conversations started by giving them videos with practical training on setting up outreaches.
“But what if the students have questions during their training? How can they get answers from you if you’re not in the room with them?” We’re going to record monthly podcasts responding to questions the students can email us or ask on voicemails. If the student’s question is complex enough, we’ll record a segment of us interacting with that student to make sure their question is sufficiently answered. These audio-only shows will be available for download to the people who are taking/have taken the course, so they can listen to them at their convenience.
We’ll continue publishing free training content on our blog, including posts responding to some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from students.
Let’s dream together…
What if every pro-life college student took this course? What would the world look like then?
Pro-choice college students on over 900 campuses would have multiple opportunities to reconsider their views on abortion with skilled and winsome pro-life advocates. Those advocates would be using the arguments we have found to be the most persuasive to today’s college students. Many of the pro-choice students would change their minds about abortion, and would choose life for their babies when they get pregnant.
Meanwhile, a growing body of thousands of trained pro-life advocates would eventually graduate college and some would continue working full-time in the pro-life movement. They would be experts at persuading the people in their spheres of influence about the issue, and the trend in our country would be toward a majority of people who believe all human beings have in our country would be toward a majority of people who believe all human beings have an equal right to life, and they can only have an equal right to life if the laws change.
I believe it is much more likely that the laws will one day change if the pro-life movement becomes known as thoughtful and loving. People would have to take our views more seriously. And then substantive laws protecting the unborn could be passed.
Would you join us in making that dream a reality?
In order for us to design this course and get the web site live by January 2016, we need to be able to pay our staff and pay organizational expenses. Currently we are receiving $2,750 in recurring gifts for our general fund (Tim and Jacob’s salaries are paid from separate funds; everything else at ERI is paid from the general fund). In order for us to be at a financially stable place where we can help pro-life people change hearts and save lives, we need to raise an additional $6,314 monthly, or $75,768 annually.
Would you prayerfully consider partnering with us to train pro-life people all over the country by helping us reach our goal with a recurring donation?
It’s easy to give. Just go to EqualRightsInstitute.com/Donate and there are options for giving by credit card, through automatic bank deposits and through checks. Every gift is completely tax-deductible, and will go toward funding this vision. And as of 10/29, your gift will be doubled!
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Do you have any questions about the course? Post them below!