Jan. 8-14, 2004
By Kristen Fox / SUN Staff Writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Syracuse couple brings pro-life message to students
When Alan and Mary Badger educate students on the sacredness of life, they know what they are talking about. Married 41 years with 8 children and 25 grandchildren, they have embraced life to the fullest. “We believe life is beautiful,” said Mary. This is the premise they have been taking into classrooms for almost half of their married life. The couple brings the pro-life message to children and young adults on behalf of Friends for Life Inc., a non-profit educational organization located in Upstate Central New York, for which they serve as co-vice-presidents of the board of directors. Promoting knowledge about the importance of life is the foundation of Friends for Life Inc.
According to Alan and Mary, educating students on the decision-making process and letting them know what is really happening is key in preventing abortions. “We want to educate students about the truth behind abortions,” Mary said. “When they are educated with medical and scientific facts then they can make knowledgeable decisions.” Most students do not have knowledge of the truth on the dangers associated with abortions, explained Alan. “There are severe aftereffects of abortions including emotional health risks and a connection to breast cancer,” he said. “But those who promote abortion deny all of this. They don’t care.”
Teachers of both public and private schools who want to share with their students the pro-life perspective invite Alan and Mary into their classrooms. The couple will talk to any students, ranging from middle school to college-aged, who are willing to open their hearts and ears. But they believe that reaching students during their adolescence is the best time to raise awareness about the risks of pre-marital sex. “It is better to get the truth to children early, that sex is best in marriage,” Mary said. She places some of the blame on the media and sitcoms for giving youths a distorted message on the sacredness of the human body. “Children are getting mixed messages from society about pre-martial sex. The media tells kids to say no to drugs and drinking and driving but then says they can compromise on sex. We think that they are capable of having self-control in all areas, including pre-martial sex,” said Mary.
Alan shares with students the two fundamental beliefs of people who are pro-life: that life begins at conception and that all life has value at all stages. “This is the context of our presentation,” he said. “Whether you are young or old, your life is worthwhile. We believe this way down in the core of our hearts.” Their message could very well be just another lecture from people trying to tell the students how to think and act. But the couple takes a unique approach; they capture students’ attention by personalizing their message. “The baby has to become real to them,” Alan said. This is done through incorporating a slide show of fetal development in the presentation. “The children are amazed with what they see. Between 10 to 12 weeks, usually the time abortions are done, the kids see the life that is developing inside of the mother. They say ‘Oh no, how could you have an abortion?’” he said, adding that he also ties historical information into the presentation.
Dorothy and Tom Scibetta serve as co-presidents of Friends for Life’s Board of Directors. Alan and Mary are great representatives of the organization, said Dorothy. “They epitomize what Friends for Life does,” she said. “They know their subject matter inside and out and present it in a compassionate, non-judgmental way.” As far as Dorothy knows, Mary and Alan have never turned down an opportunity to go into a classroom. “They see approximately 1,000 to 2,000 students each year,” she remarked. Oftentimes, this means taking time off from work or rearranging pending obligations, but the couple believes their commitment represents time well spent. “We consider this to be our apostolate,” said Alan.
Overall, the students, even those who do not necessarily agree with the Badger’s position, treat the couple with respect. In turn, Alan and Mary say they are not there to judge students, but rather to stimulate thinking and generate discussion. They do see little signs that students are getting the message on the sacredness of life. “You can tell by their body language,” said Alan. “There is a look of horror on their faces when we tell them about abortions. They really do care about the babies.” Before the couple’s presentation at a local high school, 75 percent of the students in one class identified themselves as “pro-choice.” Following the Badger’s presentation, the students demonstrated a profound change of heart –– 75 percent then stated they were pro-life. While it is unlikely that the couple will know if their presentations make such an impact on all the students they talk to, it is encouraging. “What we are trying to do is to open the door for conversion and soften hearts,” Alan said. “Each one of us is unique and created with a purpose.”
Each year Friends for Life Inc. sponsors two events, both featuring top-notch speakers –– local, regional, or national –– who instruct associates and members on critical life issues. For more information, call Friends for Life at (315) 468-6798 or visit www.friendsforlifeinc.org.