How Equal Rights Institute Began
This is the post Josh Brahm wrote and published on his blog to announce that he was launching ERI. It explains the story of how ERI began and why he didn’t just join up with one of the other great pro-life organizations that already exist.
I am launching a pro-life non-profit organization this fall. Here’s what I plan to do and why I needed to launch my own organization to do it.
I turned 30 last September. I didn’t think that would be a big deal, but I suddenly started thinking a lot more about how I was spending my time. It was becoming more important to me that I spend as much time as possible working on things that could have a great impact for the pro-life movement.
Before I get any farther into this story, I want to make something clear: There is no secret rift between me and the organization that employed me for the last six years. Right to Life of Central California (RLCC) remains one of the most effective local pro-life organizations I know of. But that’s exactly what it is: a local organization. RLCC had been very gracious to me, letting me spend some of my time on work that would make an impact outside of Fresno. They let me create Life Report, which had both a local and national impact. They also let me occasionally accept speaking opportunities in other states, as long as it didn’t conflict with any of RLCC”s events. But because I was working for a local organization, I was spending the majority of my time on local work: speaking at confirmation classes, marketing events, etc. I did 34 speeches last year, and 30 of them were in the Fresno area. I knew that if I wanted to spend all of my time trying to have a national impact, I would need to work at a national organization, regardless of how much I love RLCC, its board and its staff.
I spent a week in January with my brother Timothy. I’ve referenced his work a lot on this blog. Timothy graduated from Biola’s philosophy program several years ago and went to work with Justice For All. The plan in January was for Tim and me to work on a book we’ve been writing on conversation stoppers, things that people on both sides of the abortion debate do that mess up dialogues. I rented an office where we would have privacy and we spent the week there.
But something happened as we were talking about our passions. We started brainstorming on what a dream pro-life organization would look like to us. We thought about the things we want to do in the pro-life movement, things that we both think are really important, and things that people have told us we’re really good at. We knew that we were really good at dialogue with pro-choice people, and training pro-life people to have the same success. We knew that we were passionate about helping pro-life people to think clearly and love people better. I knew that I wanted to do speaking on relational apologetics.
We knew we were brainstorming about an organization that we would probably have to create. While there are other pro-life organizations that are doing apologetics work, there are enough things I want to do that are unique that lead me to believe that it wouldn’t be wise to force a square peg into a round hole.
Notice how in the image above, there is a lot of overlap in the center mass of the square peg. It’s not totally different from the round hole. But it’s different enough that you would have to take a hammer and chisel away at some of what makes the peg square to fit it into the round hole. I think trying to force my vision into another pre-existing organization that already has a vision would be frustrating for everybody. My mentors agreed.
Our organization will be called Equal Rights Institute, and our mission is to train pro-life advocates to think clearly, reason honestly, and argue persuasively.
We’re going to largely accomplish our mission through speaking, writing and campus outreaches. We’re excited to be partnering with Students for Life of America to be training as many of their campus clubs as possible. We have several books we’re planning to write. I’ll be speaking on pro-life dialogue tips as well as relational apologetics with my formerly pro-choice friend Deanna.
I truly believe that we can make a great impact for the pro-life movement and God’s kingdom. We’re going to help pro-life people to think clearly and communicate better with pro-choice people. Do I think that’s a silver bullet for ending abortion? No. There are no easy or quick methods to end abortion. Helping the pro-life movement communicate with the best arguments we have to offer is not a sufficient condition for ending abortion, but I think it’s probably a necessary one.
Will you prayerfully consider helping me make this dream organization a possibility? I’m raising personal support so that I can devote myself fully to this ministry while providing for my family. You can help me train pro-life advocates to communicate more persuasively by going to our secure donation page and making a gift today.
We are what’s called a “pending C3” organization, which means that we are incorporated, we have a board and bylaws, and when the IRS approves our paperwork around the end of the year, all previous donations become retroactively tax-deductible. They set it up like that to make it possible to launch a non-profit and raise funds for the work while waiting on the IRS to rubber-stamp the paperwork.
Months and months of time have been spent thinking, praying and planning what I will spend my life doing in the pro-life movement. I truly don’t think there is a better way for me to maximize my impact for the pro-life movement than to launch this organization. I think I’ve shown through the last six years of published work that I can really help people.
Here’s what just a few of my regular readers recently wrote about my work:
“Josh Brahm is one of the brightest, most articulate, and innovative people in the pro-life movement. His cutting-edge work is helping people think more clearly, communicate more effectively, and — most importantly — be better ambassadors for Christ. I wholeheartedly endorse Josh’s work, and I encourage you to join me in following Josh and getting involved in his work today!”
~ David Bereit, National Director, 40 Days for Life
“Both Josh Brahm and his brother Tim are, without a doubt in my mind, some of the most careful and gracious thinkers in the pro-life movement. They’ve both consistently demonstrated not only the philosophical prowess to contend with the best arguments for abortion (and to produce some of the strongest arguments against it), but they do so out of and permeated with love. There’s a reason you can read Josh’s stories (yes, plural) of pro-choice friends (yes, friends) becoming pro-life. And that reason is the best apologetic for starting a ministry under these two brothers: the pro-life world needs more compassion and more love.”
~ James Arnold, Editor-in-Chief for Evangelical Outpost
“Your work has helped to revolutionize my paradigms in how I view, and interact with, those with opposing views. It has been influential in helping me to genuinely respect and value pro-choice people. You’ve also motivated me to seek to genuinely understand and engage their actual arguments honestly and carefully, instead of misrepresenting their view to make it easier for me to ‘win’. Pro-choice people are not arguments to win. They are people to love.”
~ Jasmin Aprile
“Working with Josh has without a doubt improved my ability to communicate about abortion more effectively and has helped me to overcome any fears of having conversations with pro-choice people. Since applying the tools that were given to me (which I will use for the rest of my life,) I can say that every single conversation I’ve had with a pro-choice person has been pleasant and gratifying.”
~ Mari Lupercio, Director, Latinos4Life