Skip to comments.Conversion to Life (A Promising Democrat Career Cut Short)
Posted on 07/22/2003 8:51:39 PM PDT by nickcarraway
My name is Joe OFarrell, and this is my story. I have had an experience of conversion after working for a number of Democratic politicians.
The men I worked for were either indifferent to, or fully in support of the current US abortion laws and court decisions. As a Catholic, I found this increasingly hard to ignore and I have changed my career and opinion about the issue.
After leaving the Office of [Georgia] Governor Barnes, I spent most of 2000 working for the state and national presidential campaign of Vice President Al Gore. The process was something I enjoyed on many levels but it left me unable to face myself in the mirror.
While I have always been Pro-Life in my heart, I was not defending the issues of life in my work. The knowledge that I was turning my back on my God and the cause of justice was something that was always with me. Often I would make excuses and bury the emotions that were tearing me up inside.
In pursuing my career, I would consider the heights to which I would rise within the Gore administration and the good I would be able to accomplish when I arrived in Washington. I would point to the kind and good-intentioned volunteers that I would meet and think about how abortion was only one issue. I had many excuses and loopholes ready to counter the feelings of betrayal that I had in my heart.
I clung to the campaign, and the Democratic establishment that seemed to welcome me, as a way of belonging to something special and feeling like I was making a contribution to something important. I felt that what I was doing was excusable because I was not demonstrating in support of abortion. I would comment to people that I would never hand out the blue circular signs that said Keep Abortion Legal. I would speak of this to Catholic friends while I was really masking the shame of my cowardice and unwillingness to do more.
In August of 2000, I traveled to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. I was working as an advance aide to Sen. Lieberman and had access to everything. While in LA, I witnessed every type of protest and demonstration for and against causes close to peoples heart. The demonstrators that stand out most clearly in my mind are the Pro-Life protesters who carried and displayed very large graphic photos of the horror of killing unborn children. The images bring tears to my eyes even as I write this today. I remember these more than anything else from my time in Los Angeles.
While in Los Angeles, I attended a large party at the ranch of a Hollywood producer. The party was entitled Hollywood Salutes President Clinton. This was an event swimming in movie and TV stars with all the glamour of Hollywood. All I could think about was how cool my friends would think it was when I told them about it.
As I looked around and tried to embrace every little bit of the excitement, I felt unable to experience a real joy. I knew I was not at home and I knew this was not a place that would accept me or a world I could ever accept. I felt uneasy and unwelcome, though not for anything clearly understandable. I would shake off these feelings and think about how great it was that I was at such a party.
As the event concluded, we walked down to the bottom of the large driveway and I noticed a group of four or five Pro-Life protesters with the large photos across the street. They were standing silently, confined by the police. At first I winced in annoyance at the damper they were putting on the fun. Then I saw women bursting into tears and hiding their faces as their boyfriends led them away from the view. I too turned away and buried my emotions as I greeted an old friend from the 96 campaign.
As we walked on up the street toward our car I tried to feel positive about the experience of the night. I had been a guest at the best party the world could create. Every star imaginable was there. I had met the rich and famous of Hollywood and the music industry. Still, I couldnt feel good or free from guilt; the tug of God and the knowledge that I was in a place far away from him was painful and desperate.
As we drove out of the area we again passed the protesters who were still on their small patch of grass across from the party. I was compelled to look and I caught the eye of a young blond girl, just a teenager, standing with the group, she looked straight into my eyes as our van passed by. I felt her saying to me in a soft voice. What are you doing over there Joe? You belong with us. I believe she was an angel sent to bring me back. I will carry the image of her in my mind forever.
This was all nearly three years ago and theyve been difficult but blessed years. The events are obviously still fresh in my mind. I have returned to the church and my faith in a real way and I am actively involved in the parish at Christ the King. I will never work for a pro-choice candidate or administration again.
My bright political career has vanished for the moment and I struggle with questions of why opportunities with Vice President Gore were made available to me while others were not. I am not looking for my career to be the only thing of importance in my life any longer.
I dont know what plan God has for me but I am learning to trust Him and I understand that the plan will be a good and beautiful one because it is His. If you are one of those who are brave enough to be true to God, know that people notice and hearts are changed and won back to God from your work. Even the smallest effort makes a difference.
Joe O'Farrell is now an IT professional working in Atlanta. He and his wife Kersti are active members of the Cathedral of Christ the King parish.
This article originally appeared in the Newsletter of Georgia Right to Life and is adapted by permission.
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