Posted by Bruce Miller
Since we're discussing things that offend audience members, I thought I'd share one of today's letters. I've left out the name to protect the privacy of the sender.
I am writing to inform you that I am participating in Life Decision International's boycott of Theatre IV because it funds Planned Parenthood, an immoral organization which has murdered a staggering number of unborn children. Planned Parenthood seeks to promote sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility while attempting to turn children away from their parents. It gains support mainly through deception of the public. It claims to save society from the "costs" of "overpopulation" when in fact there is plenty of evidence proving that abortion and birth control programs, in addition to being severely unethical, actually undermine the economy. For example, the ever-increasing costs of Social Security place larger burdens on each individual laborer in the working population due to the low birth rate of the United States.
Those who respect all human life cannot in good conscience do business with Theatre IV as long as it remains on LDI's boycott list. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact LDI.
Please do the right thing and make Planned Parenthood ineligible for funding from your company."
Here is my response, which went out it today's mail.
Thank you for your letter of Jan 29, 2008. We regret that you have made the decision to boycott Theatre IV. We respect all those who follow their conscience and take a stand in the pro-choice / pro-life debate. We do not believe it is appropriate for Theatre IV to support one side of that debate over the other.
Your letter was addressed to a Board President from several years ago. We are aware of the website that posts the outdated contact information that you have used. Despite their claims to have updated their lists recently, most of the information included on those lists is at least six years old. I am Theatre IV's Artistic Director. I hope you'll allow me to reply.
In my experience, I have not found Planned Parenthood to be an organization that “seeks to promote sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility while attempting to turn children away from their parents.” In fact, my limited experience with Planned Parenthood has convinced me that they work to reduce sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility and encourage healthy communication between children and parents.
I also must disagree with your assertion that Theatre IV “funds Planned Parenthood.” Planned Parenthood is one of 635 community-based nonprofit organizations that requested and received a voucher for two free tickets to Theatre IV in the last two years. Several nonprofits that promote pro-life agendas were also among the 635. It is quite possible that any of these nonprofits auctioned off their vouchers at a fundraising event.
Our association with Planned Parenthood is correctly described as follows. Several years ago, Theatre IV produced an adolescent pregnancy prevention program entitled Dancing in the Dark and toured it extensively to Virginia's middle schools. Dancing in the Dark was co-produced by Theatre IV and the Department of Pediatric Medicine at what was then the Medical College of Virginia.
While creating Dancing in the Dark, we worked with a broad cross-section of nonprofit organizations associated with efforts to reduce adolescent pregnancies, including pro-choice organizations such as Planned Parenthood and pro-life organizations such as Central Virginia’s Crisis Pregnancy Centers, the Catholic Church, etc. Our purpose in assembling this broad-based group of advisors was to represent the issue of adolescent pregnancy prevention in its entirety, rather than from a single point of view.
Our advising organizations found common ground in recommending that we create a pro-abstinence program for middle school students. We followed their recommendation and Dancing in the Dark received national recognition when we performed the play as the keynote presentation at the national conference of NOAPP (the National Organization for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention).
Conservative political committees such as Life Decisions International placed us on their boycott lists because we invited Planned Parenthood to sit at the table as we developed our pro-abstinence program. We also welcomed the Crisis Pregnancy Centers and other pro-life groups to that same table. We are well aware that there are those who insist that we limit our research to only one point of view. We choose to have a broader perspective.
As a matter of policy, we do not make decisions based on boycotts or threats. Like you, we make decisions based on our conscience. Our conscience is clear. We respect your decision not to attend our productions.