Bryan Kemper shaves his head and has “Jesus” tattooed on his arm. His nationwide organization Rock for Life is enlisting thousands of teen-agers through rock ’n’ roll music to defend of the rights of unborn children. The Stafford, Va.-based offshoot of American Life League has 50 chapters across the United States. At the Rock for Life Roe v. Wade Anniversary Concert in Crystal City, Va., on Jan. 22, Kemper spoke with Register staff writer Joshua Mercer.
Mercer: Why did you start Rock for Life?
Kemper: It was a vision. I went into an abortion clinic to put pro-life literature into their magazines. Then a door opened and I watched as a baby was killed right before my very eyes. I could see the mother crying. I think God wanted me to see that. It showed me the horror of abortion. I wept for hours. Then I heard God tell me, “Bryan, I want you to save my children.”
What inspired you to become so pro-life to begin with?
When I was 12, I did necromancy. I would conjure up demons in cats and dogs. I would carve 666 on my forehead. I got beat up every day. Drugs were my escape.
In 1989, I was at a Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan concert in Anaheim. I overdosed and was sent to the hospital. Adoctor picked me out of all the people in the group and talked to me about Jesus.
Then the fireman who took me to the ambulance ... I ran into him when I went swimming the very next day. He said, “I want to talk to you.” And he talked about Jesus.
That week I was home ready to get high and I started to shake. I got convicted by the Holy Spirit. I went into a church and I told them, “I'm a drug addict.” They said, “We'll get you some food and a place to stay.”
So I prayed. I said, “All right, Jesus, I need you.” I woke up and I was a new person. I had such a huge desire to learn about God and to read the Bible.
How does it feel like to be on Bill Maher's TV show, “Politically Incorrect”?
It was interesting. [Laughs] I expected them to team up on me, which of course they did.
Why would Bill Maher even have you on the show if you're so pro-life?
He is very respectful with me off-camera. They like me and they're gonna keep asking me back. I've been on three times. If they had everyone they liked on the show, it would be a lame show. It makes for a good show to have me there. They said they like people who talk.
Do you ever get any strange looks with your tattoos, body piercing and your “Abortion is Mean” sweatshirt?
Yes! [Laughs.] I tell you, though, I got these two guys who just starting clapping for me. I had a pilot who thanked me. A lot of waiters and waitresses, too. Over 80% of the comments are positive. People are pro-life.
People cuss at me. It helps keep me on my toes.
How big is Rock for Life these days?
We have 72 local chapters. We have booths at 1,000 concerts a year and 30,000 kids have signed our pro-life pledge so far.
How do you see the future of Rock for Life?
I have a vision of hundreds and thousands of young, radical, alternative kids in front of abortion clinics and porno shops. And I know it's going to show up in the media. They'll report it because they won’t believe it.
So you're having fun with this, right?
I love hanging out with these kids. Just knowing that there are kids who say “I used to be pro-choice and now I'm pro-life.” To see thousands of kids standing for the Gospel of life because of Rock for Life. That's where the future is — encouraging the kids to get involved. I feel blessed that I know this is what I supposed to do.
Any other goals?
I'd like to make it on the cover of Rolling Stone. I've already made the cover of their Web site at least twice.