When the March for Life went virtual, many pro-life groups were left disappointed, including Liberty University. The nation’s largest Christian university has been a growing presence at the March, sending 100 students just last year to Washington, D.C. But this year, instead of just focusing on the virtual March, they’ve decided to hold their own Life March on campus to engage more students in the pro-life cause.
“When we got news that they were cancelling the in-person march, obviously we were disappointed about that, but we weren’t going to let that stop us from rallying for the pro-life cause on that day,” Christian Lasval said in an interview with The Daily Citizen. Lasval currently serves as the influencer administrator of the Liberty-affiliated Falkirk Center. “We just mobilized our efforts here on campus and decided to host a march of our own here for students, faculty and staff. God blessed us with the resources to make that happen, so we just shifted focus and decided let’s do it here.”
The Falkirk Center, founded by former university president Jerry Falwell Jr. and conservative commentator Charlie Kirk, is a modern think tank aimed at creating short and digestible articles, podcasts and videos on various topics to inspire young American conservatives to engage “in an effort to shape government policies, national institutions, and American society through a Biblical worldview.”
The Life March will really begin with a pro-life themed convocation given to all the students by Allie Beth Stuckey, with local pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) and other local pro-life ministries represented. Students will then be called on to gather on the main campus lawn for a pro-life rally, where Stuckey will continue on as a keynote speaker and David Benham, one of the two Benham brothers, will speak as well. The university and Falkirk Center are also planning time for worship and prayer before students take a short mile or so walk around the growing university campus.
“We didn’t want to lose the significance of that day,” Lasval said. “We know that there are lots of individuals, particularly pro-choice individuals or champions of abortion, who want nothing more than to see the pro-life movement be defeated or stop their advocacy. And maybe consider that the event had to be cancelled as a victory for them, and we wanted to make sure that we sent a clear message from one of the largest Christian universities in the country.”
One of those students who is helping to lead the march efforts is Vittoria D’Addesi, a current sophomore studying business. She is also one of the cofounders of Culture of Life 1972 with her mother and sisters, which is a pro-life clothing line where all of the profits from the business are donated to the pro-life movement.
“I grew up in a very strong pro-life family, and when I came to Liberty last year as a freshman, I immediately got involved with the Liberty Students for Life club,” D’Addesi shared. “When the Falkirk Center launched in January 2020, I also immediately got involved with them knowing that they’re very pro-life. I’m also the president of a group on campus called Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Truth, and our focus with that club is to help students develop their biblical world view, especially when it comes to current events and different political issues. We’re a very pro-life club.”
D’Addesi has supported a variety of pro-life activities on campus, including hosting a Culture of Life 1972 fashion show on campus. A couple of months ago, the Falkirk Center decided that they wanted to pay for a large group of students to go to the March for Life and D’Addesi both wanted to go and help encourage others to make the trip to Washington D.C. as well.
There were around 600 students signed up to attend the March, and the Culture of Life donated beanies for all of those students.
“When we got word that the D.C. march was cancelled, we immediately thought we had 600 hats and we needed to put them to good use, so we decided to do something on campus. I think this is something that I wanted to do over the last year, I thought how neat it would be to do something like this on campus. And I knew that Maggie and Christian, it’s something we’ve all wanted to do. Especially being the largest Christian university in the nation.”
Maggie Donica is a senior and leads the Students for Life chapter on campus, which she credits God for helping to grow enormously under her leadership, and it has become an incredibly active ministry on campus. She worked with both Vittoria and Christian to really bring a taste of the March for Life to Liberty.
“It’s extremely exciting,” Donica shared. “Especially because sometimes in Christian colleges, not just Liberty but I have friends at different Christian colleges across the country, it’s harder because most of the students are pro-life but they don’t feel like there is a big need to get involved and they can be very apathetic about it. It’s a good chance to involve all the students who’ve never spent much time thinking about abortion and the issues.
“If all else fails, even if they don’t know about the event, they’re going to walk by it. It’s going to be in the middle of campus, they’re going to get to hear these speakers and I’m really excited for the students who’ve never gotten to think about it, to get that chance to be like, wait a minute, this is a real issue.”
The Students for Life chapter at Liberty University sends a group of volunteer students every weekend to pray at the Roanoke Planned Parenthood and talk with the women coming in, if they want. They also help parents who are attending Liberty find volunteer babysitters while they are attending classes. Students for Life also has a policy arm that goes up to Washington D.C. for various rallies, including those surrounding the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett.
“I personally have seen so much change happen from young people,” Donica said. “We are the perfect age to work in this because we’re the age that most abortions happen. It’s the people around us. I think it’s also really important to train us to approach the abortion issue in a loving and persuasive way. It’s so important to have that conversation with love and respect, but also knowing how to respond to the different arguments that come up.”
The passion that these young people have is part of the reason why this is the most pro-life generation. And universities like Liberty and organizations like the Falkirk Center and Students for Life are dedicated to training young Christians about how to respond to these pressing issues.
“This is an issue that we do not see as a political issue, it is a God issue that has been made political,” Lasval said. “And we just wanted to make sure that we sent a clear message that Liberty University is unapologetically pro-life, and we stand with the unborn and stand with mothers in crisis pregnancy.”
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