By David Cruz
There was prayer, there was fellowship and there were drinks and snacks loaded onto the bus for the long ride to Washington D.C. and the annual March for Life, where anti-abortion activists are feeling like they have an ally in the White House for the first time in a very long time. But for many on this trip, the motivation is not so much political as spiritual.
“I’m not a big political protester guy,” noted Gerard Murphy of Bloomfield. “I think this is the only march I go to, but just to pray and let the leaders in Washington know that we care about life and we think that Roe v. Wade was a terrible decision. We love both the babies and the mothers.”
In fact, many in this group — one of 60 buses from New Jersey headed down — were not the usual activists from what some call the People’s Republic of Montclair. There were religious conservatives and, gasp, Donald Trump supporters in the group.
“The sanctity of life, it’s lost in this country,” said Cedar Grove resident Conrad Crisafulli. “Hopefully with the new administration, we’ll be seeing it coming back. We’re also happy to see for the first time ever, in history, a vice president at the March for Life.”
Verona Resident Bill Spooner noted new battle lines being drawn in the culture wars. “I think that it’s more that people don’t really think about it, so they’re not doing it on purpose but it’s just happening,” he said. Asked how the nation could bridge the chasm, he said he was optimistic. “I don’t know [how we get there],” he said. “I hope by prayer, I guess.”
And prayer is at the center of this challenge to change hearts and minds on the divisive issue of abortion rights. This group is made up of parishioners from churches around Essex County and the march was expected to attract tens of thousands of supporters of restrictions on abortion, many from faith-based organizations.
Ines Velez, of Lyndhurst, noting the Women’s March on Washington from last week, said she respected the effort, but not the message. “Well, we know that the devil is the master of lies and always they will give the wrong message trying to protect women. And what they don’t know is that they are destroying women.”
It takes roughly four hours to get to the nation’s capitol from Montclair. The March for Life did not draw the numbers of last week’s Women’s March On Washington, but with speakers like the president’s key advisors, including for the first time at this march, the vice president. The sense was that this movement is about to have its moment.