By KATE SELTZER
Tuesday’s event, “How Abortion Hurts Minority Communities,” began as every Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) meeting begins: with the Pledge of Allegiance.
About 180 students and community members attended the event, which featured guest speaker Star Parker, founder and president of the conservative Center for Urban Renewal and Education. Parker is also part of President Donald Trump’s White House Opportunity Initiative taskforce.
“I would like to thank finance committee and our university as a whole for allowing us to host Ms. Parker this evening,” said Patsy Deaton, vice chair of UMW YAF. “It is one thing to preach inclusivity tolerance and diversity and another to actually support and reflect these principles.”
The room where the event took place on the fourth floor of Lee Hall was decorated with posters reading “Disrupting speech is fascism,” and “Practice the tolerance you preach.”
According to Deaton, the event was funded partially by YAF’s parent organization, Young America’s Foundation; partially by club funds; and partially by UMW’s Finance Committee.
Parker asserted that many of society’s problems are a result of the left’s “war on the principles of Christianity… war on the virtues of capitalism and… war on the very rule of law outlined in our constitution.”
“They started a war on poverty, scrubbed our schools of all reference to God, weakened our public institutions, and opened the door for a culture of meaninglessness,” she said.
Parker equated abortion to slavery, saying, “abortion is not salvation, it is a crime against humanity. So America shouldn’t be doing that. We had another crime against humanity that we shouldn’t have been doing. It’s called slavery.”
She also attributed the decline in societal values to gay marriage being legalized.
“Conjugal marriage is a capstone of humanity,” she said. “As a result of its unraveling, our public square has been total chaos. Homosexuality is now delighting [sic] us into bringing into question the very premises of personal responsibility and limited government.”
After the forty-five minute talk, Parker opened up the floor for a question and answer period.
One student began their question with an excerpt from the first amendment, which reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
“I am not a Christian,” the student said. “I would like to know why you believe that Christian values, which the Constitution says should not be the foundation of law, nor should any other religions… why you believe those should be the foundation of law in the United States.”
The question was met with significant applause.
“You can’t change the reality of the founding of our country,” Parker responded. “[It was] founded on the principles of Christianity.”
She said that the challenge society faces is coexisting with secular and religious values.
Another student, Holly Darnell, said “I would like to know if you think that better access to contraception and better access to sex education in the communities that you’ve described would play a role in reducing abortion.”
“Oh, they have plenty of that access,” Parker responded.
This was met with general disagreement from many in the audience.
“They’re beginning now in the first grade to talk about these sexual matters,” Parker said. “Yes, this is what’s in the public school curriculum. Maybe you should look at it.”
Although the National Conference of State Legislatures says that “all states are somehow involved in sex education for public schoolchildren,” no evidence was found of students learning sex education in the first grade.
After these questions were asked, two students stood up and shouted “Who do you speak for?”
A substantial portion of the crowd responded: “Not me.”
About 120 out of the 180 individuals present marched out. As they did, attendees who were in support of Parker chanted “USA. USA.” Students who organized the demonstration were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
Although the majority of attendees stood in opposition to Parker and her values, some students and community members did find the event valuable.
“Star Parker speaks the truth,” said junior Spanish major Sarah Hearsey.
“We knew a lot of people would be maybe a little off-put by the event,” Deaton said. “We kind of expected protesters. I was pleased that for most of the event, people were very respectful. Even if a couple of people are considering a viewpoint they never considered before, whether or not they agree with it, I think that’s really good for education.”