By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER CITY – Scanning across the crowd of around 5,280 marching in unity for life across the Texas Street Bridge, Mike Johnson couldn’t help but think he was experiencing a glimpse of heaven.
Men and women, young and old, from various denominations and races joined together on a sunny late January Saturday morning to make the 1.2 mile-journey from Bossier City to Shreveport in the inaugural Louisiana Life March North.
“The first annual Life March for North Louisiana was an incredible success, and a tremendous encouragement about our future,” said Johnson, a Shreveport attorney and legal counsel for Louisiana Right to Life. “The more than 5,200 people who participated in the event on January 25 will never forget the experience as an amazing show of unity and a reminder of what the Body of Christ can do when we stand together.
“We believe the march has launched a new, long overdue era of pro-life activity and cultural engagement for our region,” Johnson added.
The march commemorated the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal in every state.
A similar life march in Baton Rouge took place on Jan. 18 and drew nearly 3,000 participants, though that march has occurred for four years.
The theme for the march was “4,003 Lives Too Many.”
According to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, preliminary numbers for 2012 showed that 9,225 abortions were performed in the state in 2012, an increase from 8,955 in 2011. The most abortions of any metropolitan area in the state were Bossier and Caddo parishes, with 4,003 combined.
A convoy of Christian motorcyclists led the marchers across the bridge.
A large group of marchers carried a banner that said “Louisiana Life March” while other marchers held signs with messages like “4,003 Lives Too Many,” “Choose Life,” “Pro-Life: Life Is God’s Plan” and “I Chose Life.” Middle and high schoolers chanted “We Stand – For Life” as they crossed the Texas Street Bridge.
In addition to the march, the event also included nationally-known speakers and local music groups leading in prayer and inspiration about the gift of life.
Chuck Pourciau, pastor of Broadmoor Baptist in Shreveport, told the group that many today agree that life begins at conception after an unborn child is a person, unlike in 1973 when more people believed a child in the womb was just tissue and was not a life.
“Now, because of scientific advances even those in the pro-abortion industry and the pro-abortion lobby know they can no longer say an unborn child is no longer a life,” Pourciau said. “When that change was made, they either had to change their position or change their rhetoric. And they chose for the most part to change their rhetoric.”
Pourciau said, for example, that some pro-abortion supporters are claiming that the lives of the existing children who the mother is struggling to house, clothe and feed have to be taken into consideration.
“Now, if that is going to be the philosophy, then you can apply that to children, whether they are in the womb or not,” he said.
Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC and the former head of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Freedom Commission, told the crowd they are part of one of the most extraordinary movements in American history.
“No other grassroots movement has ever grown and had the success that the pro-life movement has had without the blessing of at least one of the social elites in our culture,” said Land, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “We have been condemned by all the social elites in our culture. We have been attacked and yet we have continued to grow.
“And I have some really good news for you,” Land said. “We are winning the struggle for the hearts and minds of the American people on the issue of life.”
After the march, Jean McKee, a member of Norris Ferry Community Church in Shreveport, said that she noticed the diversity of people in the march.
“I like to see the variety of people here,” McKee said. “It’s neat to see people come together for life.”
After both gatherings, a “Life Ministry Mobilization” area that included the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home & Family Ministries’ Mobile Pregnancy Care Center plugged interested individuals into pro-life efforts in their respective communities.
In addition to Louisiana Right to Life, the event co-sponsors included the Louisiana Baptist Convention, Louisiana Family Forum, the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Ark-La-Tex Crisis Pregnancy Center, Heart of Hope Ministries and Concerned Women for America.