When Texans gathered in Dallas Jan.18 to march for life, the environment was a little louder — and shinier — than what they’ve come to expect at pro-life marches. That’s because it was the debut event for Bikers for Life, a new organization started by the founder of Life Dynamics, Mark Crutcher.
Crutcher, himself a longtime motorcycle enthusiast, says the biker community is staunchly pro-life. Given initial response to the launch of Bikers for Life, he says that he expects that, within a year, there will be a “gigantic” biker presence at pro-life events, particularly at abortion facilities.
The Register spoke with Crutcher about this new initiative on Jan. 15, as he was preparing for Bikers for Life’s inaugural event.
Let me start by saying this: When I think of bikers, “strong pro-lifers” is not necessarily the first idea that comes to my mind. Do I have a false impression?
Yes, you do have a false impression. I’ve been a biker since I was 12, which was 53 years ago. So I’ve been in this community a long time, and I can tell you that the overwhelming majority of the biker community is pretty staunchly pro-life. But I think one of the problems is ... and I address this in the [intro] video that I did, the biker community has been sold a bill of goods — like the rest of the country has been — about who the pro-lifers are. And they’ve been convinced that the pro-lifers are a bunch of goody-two-shoes, Bible-thumpers, who think that everything that’s fun ought to be illegal; stoic; kind of boring people — the kind of people who probably wouldn’t have much to do with bikers.
I think you would agree that if you went out and interviewed, let’s say, a randomly selected group of 100,000 American people and said, “I don’t care what you think about abortion or pro-life vs. pro-choice or all that. But let me ask you this: What is your perception of the pro-life community?” I think you’d get an answer that you wouldn’t find very flattering, and that is probably completely erroneous. I know for a fact it’s erroneous. I’ve been at [pro-life work] for over 30 years, and I can tell you the image we have among the American people is not who we are.
The problem is we’ve allowed our enemies to define us. The enemies in the secular media and the abortion industry, which are basically one and the same. We’ve allowed them to tell the world who we are, and then we’ve reinforced that through our own behaviors.
You look [at the same sort of thing in] the biker community — so I’ve gotten it from both angles. You tell people you’re a biker, and they think, "Well, he’s either a pimp or a drug dealer or he’s killed a few people; he’s irresponsible; he doesn’t raise his kids. He rides around on his motorcycle terrorizing small communities. A drunk." And that image is one that the secular media in this country likes to portray, just like they like to portray the image of you and me in a way that is totally unlike who we are.
We [in the pro-life movement] have kept our numbers artificially low because we’ve played along with this lie that the media and the abortion industry have told people.
I saw years ago — what made me first start thinking about this, probably 20 years ago now — a [feature] on C-Span, where they were talking about cultural issues, and they were doing man-on-the-street interviews. When the issue of abortion came up, they were interviewing this guy on the street, and he says, “You know, I listen to one side of the abortion issue, and I think they’re right; and then I can listen to the other side, and I think, well, No, they’re right.” He says, “I don’t know who’s right or wrong, and it’s really not my issue. I don’t care that much. But what I do know is: I think I like the pro-choice people better than I like the pro-life people.”
We’ve played along with the image that our enemies have created for us. We know at Life Dynamics; we know there are tremendous pockets of people in our society that we can create coalitions with who don’t fit the stereotype of “evangelical Christians” or “conservative Catholics.” We’ve already proven that with our Maafa21 project, bringing blacks into the pro-life movement. And now we’re going to be proving it with the Bikers for Life project.
Has the response been what you’ve been hoping for?
Oh, yeah. The thing that [the positive response we’ve gotten so far] has done to me — and we’re just now getting started with this; we’re at the embryonic stages — it makes me angry with myself that I didn’t do this years ago. Because I had the idea many years ago and just didn’t act on it.
That was my fault.
Why did you choose Dallas? What’s the reason for starting this weekend?
Well, you gotta start somewhere. We started working on this project a few weeks ago, actually a couple months ago. We’re starting from ground zero, so we’re trying to develop a network of biker groups around the country. And the response we’ve gotten has been astonishing. Astonishingly positive. We think that, within the next six months to a year, we’re going to start having gigantic biker presence in pro-life events, and especially at abortion clinics. ...
Here at Dallas this weekend, we’re expecting — well, we’d be very happy if we had 100 bikes, but we’re expecting 250 to 300, maybe 350. The police think we’re going to get a lot more than that, and they’re limiting actual participants in the march to 250 because that’s all they think they can have accommodations for this year. The way this thing is going to grow ... the police officer told us that if we do this again next year in Dallas, we’re going to have to make accommodations for a lot more bikes.
Did you happen to see on the news that Pope Francis is auctioning his Harley?
Yeah, Harley-Davidson donated two motorcycles to him, and I heard he’s going to auction off one of them. ... I guess it’s kind of a big deal to donate Harley-Davidsons to the Pope.
Well, it makes for nice pictures, anyway.
Yes, that’s right.
If I asked you just who are bikers, who are these people, what do they do, could you give me a profile?
Well, the modern biker community is made up of all kinds of people. You have just ordinary, everyday working-class people. And you have doctors, lawyers, judges. They are a cross-section of the American public. The biker community has exploded. All you have to do is look at what Harley-Davidson alone has done on the New York Stock Exchange.
Given that profile, why do you think there is such a pro-life presence among them? What do you see as the correlation between being a biker and being pro-life?
For some reason, in the biker community, there is this sense of railing against injustice. And what you’ll find is that the biker community, contrary to what a lot of people might think, tends to be very patriotic and very conservative.
A friend of mine who manages the Harley-Davidson store here brought this to my attention. ... He’s a member of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, and that’s a gigantic organization nationwide. You can go on their website and see how big this is. They had 200,000 bikers at their rally in Tennessee last year. ... He was saying that the abortion issue continually comes up and [he told me] “I have not met one biker yet who wasn’t pro-life.”
Now, I know there are bikers out there who are not pro-life. We’re going to hear from them, and that’s fine. But talking about significant numbers, I think you’re going to find that the biker community is significantly more pro-life than the population as a whole. ...
There is a growing sense in the biker community, just like there is in America in general, that something is profoundly wrong with our country. ... People are saying that the country is on the wrong track and that we’re losing our moral values, and something is not right. I’m not talking just about the abortion issue. I’m talking about all kinds of issues. And I think there’s the sense among the American people that we better turn things around or we’re going to reach the point where things can’t be turned around.
Apparently, within the biker community, that sense is even more profound than it is within the public in general. They recognize that, and they see abortion is part of that.
There’s also this feeling within the biker community, especially among old-time bikers, guys who’ve been around forever, of camaraderie, if you will, with the underdog. And nobody is a bigger underdog in our society than the unborn.
So you have this sense within the biker community of railing against injustice. Anything they see as injustice, they rail against; and, also, this sense that something’s wrong with our country and that abortion is part of that.
Register correspondent Kathleen Naab writes from Houston,
where she covers news of the Church as a coordinator for Zenit News Service.