The song “The Little Drummer Boy” has a special meaning to the owner of Vintage Drum Center, a Libertyville, Iowa-based mail-order percussion business. The 13,000 people who receive his quarterly catalog get his pro-life views along with it. For more than a year now, he has included a variety of opinion pieces, artwork and cartoons to advance the cause of life and exhort musicians to ply their trade morally. In a recent interview with Register staff writer Brian McGuire, the drummer said that not only have his efforts to evangelize the music community brought blessings to his life, they've also been good for business.
McGuire: When and why did you decide to communicate your pro-life views to your customers?
Ingberman: I've been a pro-lifer at heart for a very long time. But the impetus to do something about it didn't begin to grow until after I became a Catholic in 1993. Soon after, I picked up a pamphlet at church entitled “Sing a Little Louder.” It compared Hitler's Holocaust to the holocaust of abortion and how the grip of fear and silence allowed that kind of evil to go unchecked.
I was horrified.
I'm a Jewish convert and both my parents are survivors of the Holocaust. I have seen firsthand that damage it has done to them. I never got to know my grandparents or most of my aunts of uncles — they were all exterminated. After reading the pamphlet, I knew that I had to do something to defend those babies.
It was shortly after that that my wife, Carol, attended a pro-life presentation by Joe Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League. [Scheidler] sparked something in us and got our creative juices flowing. After that, we prayed and prayed about what we could do to fight abortion and what kept coming to our minds was to start with what we had — our mail-order business. The challenge was how to present, in an appropriate and relevant way, the pro-life message in a retail catalog for musicians.
Then, one morning, about one and a half years ago, I was eating breakfast and noticed that Carol had left a “precious feet” lapel pin on the table. It's an exact replica of two baby's feet 10 weeks after conception. As I looked at those feet, I suddenly pictured them grown into full size and playing the bass and high-hat. I knew that some feet wouldn't make it because they would be aborted. This is how the concept for our first pro-life ad was born. At the time, we didn't know how our subscribers would react to a pro-life ad, but we felt God was calling us to do this.
How do you respond to people who say your ads are irrelevant to making music?
We had surprisingly few objections from subscribers, only three or four. The positive responses outnumber the negative ones 20 to 1.
I explained to one subscriber that the ads actually are relevant and referred to the text of one of our ads. It says that America's 26-and-under age group has one third fewer musicians and audience members because over the past 26 years, one third of our children have been aborted. Then I went on to say that where human life is at stake, whether we're musicians, educators, or businessmen, or whoever we are, it is relevant to us all.
Then I said that I have a moral obligation to defend life, and a businessman is not excused from that. I don't know if I was able to change the minds of those three or four people. I can only hope that a seed was planted and that the Lord will take care of the rest.
Has anyone in the music community applauded your efforts to defend life or have you changed anyone's mind on the issue?
Yes, many have. We've received phone calls, faxes, letters and e-mails and we still get them. Some customers even come right out and [tell] me that the reason they are buying from us was because we had taken a public pro-life stand. Some have also told us the same because of the editorials in our catalog concerning moral responsibility in the arts. As for our ads prompting anyone to change their mind about abortion, well, I hope they have. But so far, no one has told us so.
I remember one customer telling me that his friend who produced rap music read one of our editorials and stopped producing the music. His friend said that he never realized what kind of effect his music was having on his audience. We have had requests from churches, colleges, customers, and even an apartment complex for permission to reprint and distribute our editorials. One of them has appeared in a few music industry trade magazines.
Do you have any plans to network with others in the music community to spread the pro-life message more effectively?
I have thought about the power of a united effort of not just pro-life music businesses but of all pro-life businesses, and recently announced the formation of a nationwide coalition called the National Coalition of Businesses for Life. Its purpose will be to help end abortion and promote life. As I see it, becoming a member of the coalition would not require taking a pro-life stand, though I hope many who join will.
What effect have your ads had on business?
Over the past one and a half years that our company has been running the pro-life ads, we've seen our business improve instead of decline. I strongly suspect that the perceived risk-level for a business taking public pro-life stance is based more on myth than reality. We have even had customers come right out and tell us that the reason they were buying from us was because we had taken a public stance. I firmly believe that there exist many potential customers who would definitely patronize a business that they know is taking a public pro-life stance.
For information about the National Coalition of Businesses for Life, contact: Vintage Drum Center, Attn: NCBC, 2243 Ivory Drive Libertyville, IA 52567. Phone: (575) 693-8691