Anthony Comstock: the first pro-life activist in the modern history
Pioneer in the fight against abortion and in efforts to press the Congress and politicians to protect families and their children and adolescents
By Julio Severo
To expose children and adolescents to pornographic materials and movies under the cloak of “sexual education”, showing explicit scenes and positions of sex, including homosexual. To expose children and adolescents to methods called of “family planning”, including abortion, to hinder pregnancy as if it were a sexually transmissible disease. That, unhappily, is the pattern of criminal violence prevailing at the schools and in the society when perverts are not kept from changing the laws and the culture.
The vast majority of the efforts to expose children and adolescents to the pornographic sexual education and information and “services” of abortion and contraception is a result from the campaigns by the International Planned Parenthood Federation, founded in the 1950s by Margaret Sanger. It was a cultural and pornographic imperialism that defeated legal barriers firstly in the US and later expanded itself as a virus to the rest of the world.
Today the International Planned Parenthood Federation is the largest world promoter of contraception, abortion and pornographic sexual education in the schools.
According to the ideology of Sanger, birth control
Eventually would destroy Christianity.
Eventually would exterminate the black race.
Eventually would purify the white race.
Eventually would promote abortion as the women’s human right.
The sexual violence officially clothed as education of children and adolescents today is something criminal, and it is this way that Anthony Comstock treated it. Since late 1860s, his action was aimed at fighting propagandas of pornography, abortion and birth control. Born in 1844 in Connecticut in a town called New Canaan, since childhood he loved to read the Bible and he was an evangelical Christian that didn’t practice Christianity just inside of the church walls. Eventually he became an active worker in the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in New York. YMCA was a much known evangelical organization, where even D.L. Moody was an active member.
In that time, YMCA founded the Society for the Suppression of Vice to advance the work of Comstock, where he worked as secretary until his death.
He fought the social vices by lobbying legislators. He traveled to Washington DC and convinced congressmen about the need of laws to protect families and their children and adolescents from pornography. Such pioneering efforts were the first demonstrations of pro-family lobby, or campaigns to press and influence legislators to prioritize the well-being of the families.
His pressures on the Congress successfully led to the 1873 establishment of a strong federal law banning the transportation of obscene, lewd, or lascivious items in the mail. The law, with penalties up to ten years in prison, was eventually known as Comstock Law.
To implement the law, Comstock was officially appointed for the United States Post Office, with powers to enforce the banning of pornography. From 1873 to 1915, he conducted spectacular police raids on pornographic publishers and vendors.
In one year alone, 14,200 lb of pornographic photographic plates, 134,000 lb of pornographic books, 200,000 photographs and images, 31,500 boxes of pills and potions, and 60,300 obscene articles were destroyed. It is estimated that fifteen tons of pornographic books and publications, and four million photographs, were destroyed. This result was not incidental: Comstock took his career and responsibilities very seriously.
The Comstock Law is still in effect in federal laws to prohibit obscenity. It is vigorously enforced regarding child pornography on the Internet and in print. So the modern repression to the children’s pornographic exploration is established on the pioneering efforts of an active evangelical Christian. But after the death of Comstock in 1915, his law began to succumb to the systematic attacks by Sanger, because there was not anyone that was able or wanted to fill the role of Comstock.
Even so, Rev. Billy Sunday (1862-1935), probably the greatest preacher to large crowds before Billy Graham, condemned alcoholism, pornography, birth control and other social evils. Of Presbyterian orientation, he denounced Sanger and her ideology until his last days. Among Catholics, the denunciations came from Fr. John Ryan, in the 1930s. Not much different from Sunday, Comstock saw alcoholic beverage as harmful. By coincidence, Sanger died as an alcoholic in 1966.
Anthony Comstock accomplished great legal feats of protection of families and he faced, in his own generation, many abortion and pornography activists. Yet, during his lifetime, who prevailed was him.
In early 1915, President Woodrow Wilson named Comstock to lead the American Delegation to the International Purity Conference, held that year in San Francisco. As historian Paul Boyer concedes, of the 4,000 delegates present “there were probably not two persons who did not unreservedly share his point of view.” After this crowning event, Comstock left this world.
Comstock was successful. Between 1873 and 1877, he “probably prosecuted more abortionists... than any other person in the United States.” After his five years of aggressive action, “abortion-related advertising declined precipitously throughout the nation.” Indeed, historian James Mohr concludes that because of Comstock’s work, “[a]bortion’s period of commercial visibility, which had lasted since the 1840’s, was over.”
Another historian of the abortion issue, Leslie Reagan, concludes that abortion was off the agenda of organized religion until the late 1950’s simply because, “for nearly a century, abortion was a crime and no social movement suggested otherwise.” This was one of the large achievements of Comstock.
How is it that for almost 100 years the Comstock Law made morality to prevail above immorality? How is it that one man was able for a long period of forty years to scare and defeat a crowd of wealthy pornographic, spiritualistic, aborting and immoral Goliaths? The life of Comstock demonstrates that he who is in the Lord makes exploits.
While Comstock fought against pornography, abortion and contraception, Protestant churches were blooming with genuine revivals. During the unbeatable Comstock era, D.L. Moody was used by God in great revivals, Billy Sunday began his ministry that reached America from one end to the other and the Pentecostal movement was born in America to change the history of the world evangelism.
The Comstock era, which was marked by the greatest Pentecostal revivals ever seen in modern time, was an era where America was an indisputably and predominantly Protestant nation.
According to the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the US religious scenery was in 1890: 68% were Protestants and 30% were Catholic. But since contraception and abortion became totally legalized in the US — contraception in the late 1960s and abortion in 1973 —, the scenery has changed. From 1972 to 1993, Protestants constituted about 63% of the US population. By 2002, they were 52% and for the first time since the founding of the US, now Protestants are a minority. The dream of Sanger came true: birth control is destroying Christianity in America.
Today, with the domination of pornography, abortion and contraception in the American society, America lost her formerly Protestant predominance.
America and the world need revival. And genuine revival goes together with social justice, as the many social conquests of Comstock attest.
This article is only a summary of the e-book “Anthony Comstock: the first pro-family champion in the modern history”, written by Julio Severo. To read the full e-book, follow this link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/31144484/Anthony-Comstock-the-First-Profamily-Champion-in-the-Modern-History
Portuguese version of this article: Anthony Comstock: o primeiro ativista pró-vida da história moderna