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October 26, 2011

Un-Comfort-able Video Raises Hackles Online

By comparing abortion to the Holocaust, Ray Comfort has rankled thousands of viewers

Ray Comfort, a New Zealand-born evangelist and founder of Living Waters, an evangelism training ministry, has never been shy about his faith, even to the point of confrontation. He has publicly debated atheists and doubters, and has even challenged Darwinian biologist (and noted atheist) Richard Dawkins to a debate, offering $20,000 for such an event. (Dawkins has declined, reportedly insisting on $100,000.) Comfort is also co-host (with Kirk Cameron) of The Way of the Master television.

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Comfort is accustomed to having his share of critics, but in recent weeks, thousands have opened fire on him after watching his 33-minute film, 180, which compares the tragedy of abortion to the Holocaust -- a comparison that Comfort does not take lightly, as he grew up Jewish. In the video, Comfort does a number of man-on-the-street interviews, asking people about Hitler and the Holocaust before shifting the conversation to abortion, urging his interviewees to see and understand the comparison. Some end up seeing Comfort's point, and even change their views from pro-choice to pro-life during the course of the interview.

The film, embedded below and also available in higher definition here, bills itself as "a shocking, award-winning documentary" that will "rock your world." It even comes with a "Public Advisory: Graphic Content" warning for some of the images included. The video has been viewed more than 1.2 million times on YouTube, prompting an astonishing number of comments -- almost 20,000. Many praise the film for its powerful pro-life message, but many others are livid:

"This is one sided and totally slanted. He's trying to guilt them."

"Nothing but idiotic dribble. Rhetoric made for the purpose of controlling women and their bodies."

"Absolutely ridiculous. The fact that you all have the audacity to compare the murdering of millions of sentient human beings, people who had children, family, and lives to the 'killing' of embryos is just downright insulting to the memories of those who died in the Holocaust. These 'children' can't even function on their own. Get a clue, people."

A recent Huffington Post article quotes Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel as saying that those who compare the Holocaust to abortion "prove that they do not know what the Holocaust was."

Comfort begs to differ: "I'm also Jewish, and I spent months researching for a book I wrote called Hitler, God, and the Bible," he says in a press release. "I wept my way through the Holocaust. It was a horror beyond words. But I have to agree in one respect. Nearly 60 million Americans have been slaughtered by abortion, and that’s ten times the amount of Jews who died under the Nazis. So as far as numbers are concerned, there is no comparison.”

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Comfort's powers of persuasion are evident in the documentary, as a number of people patiently field his questions and even end up changing their points of view. It's encouraging to see people changing from pro-choice to pro-life, but I wondered about the smarts of many of Comfort's interviewees. He started his conversations with a simple question: "Who was Adolf Hitler?" But many of his subjects replied, "I dunno," or "Who?" Really? Young adults don't know who Hitler was? And then several other interviewees denied the Holocaust ever occurred.

Comfort interviewed plenty of clearly intelligent, informed people for this film, so why not edit out the clueless ones at the beginning? Unfortunately, that sets up the viewer for an easy criticism: "Well, of course he's changing their minds. They're not very bright and clearly don't have many strongly held beliefs in the first place." So, what's a pretty good documentary could have been even stronger without the fools early on.

But in the end, I think Comfort has a fairly strong argument, and the video's worth watching:

Comments

Thank you for reviewing the 180 Movie. While some may feel these people are "idiots" and, therefore, easily swayed, perhaps they are indicative of where the culture is headed. These same people can probably name most of the people on any reality TV show. There were people that knew who Hitler was and some that denied the Holocaust ever happened. Watching the movie helped me remember why I am against abortion and has spurred me into action. I hope all will watch and "choose" what they will do with the information presented.

Great movie. The people interviewed were no dummies and their responses were absolutely indicative of our culture. Watch 180, you won't be disappointed.

Your last paragraph is rife with the exact type of thoughtless logic many of the interviewees in the video are victim too. With one exception... you should know better. The same people who will critize the video for interviewing fools, are the people who won't be convinced no matter the evidence. Note that I didn't state, "can't" be convinced - but won't. If he (Ray) were to have interviewed only well thought individuals, scoffers would only have targeted their critique more at his comparison in general, or perhaps they'd have attacked how the interviewees were first put in a state of emotional turmoil, so were unable to think clearly - or some other such nonsense. Additionally, I'd be very surprised if those who produced this were only interested in reaching the well thought educated elite. I think they did a good job obtaining a variety of individuals, in order to change the hearts and minds of many different types of people.

When Comfort can find a Holocaust victim who occupied the body of a woman against her will and at risk to her health and life, he should let us know.
The notion that his smarmy and inferior argument could work on anyone only demonstrates that there are scores of unthinking dimwits who make an ideal audience for Christian televangelists.

I'm pro-life, and I still find comparing abortion to the Holocaust offensive. Abortion can be considered mass murder, although there are a lot of issues involved and painting women who have them as murders is not remotely helpful to the discussion.

However, the Holocaust was more than that. The Holocaust was about torture and murder based on ethnicity. It was genocide. It was about wiping Jews as well as other groups off the face of the earth. So, to compare abortion to that is offensive to all the victims and survivors and just is not okay.

And you know what, it isn't remotely helpful either. We want people to become pro-life. We want people to realize that human life begins at conception and that fetuses are human beings. How does coaching the discussion in terms of genocide actually help? It just gets people angry and means they are going to ignore any useful things the pro-life side has to say.

The video is exploitative and cretinous, nothing more than a Christian marketing tool. Grow up please.

A certain group of people (Jews/unborn) were reduced to less than human. Places (gas chamber/abortion clinic) were set up to kill them. Sounds similar to me. Both are horrible crimes against people and God. Hitler is gone, abortion is still here. Would you have taken a stand in Germany? Have you taken a stand today?

There is a common thread between the Holocaust,abortion, and the treatment of African slaves in early America; they were declared to be nonpersons and deprived of the protection of the law with terrible results. But I think an even closer parallel than abortion and the Holocaust is abortion and the worship of Moloch in ancient Israel. Today, the unborn are sacrificed to the god of convenience.

Words fail me...very impacting video and with a very clear message...I have 7 adopted children and would like to tell people not to abort, but give your child up for adoption if you can't keep it. There are many women who are waiting for a child to call their own...

Robert writes: "Your last paragraph is rife with the exact type of thoughtless logic many of the interviewees in the video are victim too. With one exception... you should know better. The same people who will critize the video for interviewing fools, are the people who won't be convinced no matter the evidence."

Robert, you accuse me of using "thoughtless logic." I'm afraid there's NO logic to yours, because I *was* convinced by Comfort's arguments, even though I also criticize him for including interviews with fools. (I never criticized him for merely interviewing fools, as you claim, but for not editing out those interviews. It would have strengthened his case.)

Praise God for Ray Comfort's faithfulness and the faithfulness of those who helped produce this video at livingwaters. My wife and I and our 3 week old baby girl were members of one of the teams that helped pass out videos on college campuses this past Tuesday. I personally heard criticism (in between the angry yelling and name-calling) that others have mentioned about the comparison between abortion and the holocaust.

To which I say: your criticism is invalid. The comparison is absolutely valid. Hitler and his cronies murdered millions of Jews because he classified them as non-people. Therefore, it was justified and justifiable to destroy their business, steal their belongings, herd them into ghettos and ultimately kill them by the trainload. All because Jews weren't people. We are guilty of the exact same mentality and use the exact same rationale that Hitler used. We classify unborn babies as 'fetuses' and 'embryos', thus they are non-people. Because they aren't people, it is justified and justifiable to murder them in the womb, only it's not 'murder', it's 'abortion'.

People need to see abortion for what it is. Murder. Calling it anything else does further injustice to the millions of innocent children perishing from this holocaust. If this offends your sensibilities, be offended instead by the wanton destruction of so many innocent lives.

Ok, just to clarify, because I have seen this argument alot, that the people interviewed weren't intelligent because they didn't know who Hitler was. The people who answered wrong about Hitler are not the same people who were in the later parts of the movie. Look at it yourself. With the exception of one girl with red hair and white sunglasses and the guy with a cigarette in his ear. And the guy actually answered the Hitler question correctly. Everyone else, obviously in order to understand the questions, had to know who Hitler was. 180 is a fantastic movie, well made, and changing lives all over the world.

Ray Comfort could have done his man on the street interviews at almost any of our public colleges in America and found the same absence of knowledge of history. As a leader of Project Truth I have taken the life/abortion issue to the center of hundreds of CA college campuses, asking simple biological questions and historical questions related to injustice. We find significant ignorance and foolishness, seemingly programmed responses. To all of you "I am prolife but..." folks I ask, what are you doing to end this great moral sin and outrage of our day? Thanks Ray.

If you are a Christian you MUST be anti-abortion. Abortion IS murder. Plain and simple.

This is the same Ray Comfort who wasn't born till years after the close of WW2, but claims to have "wept his way through the holocaust".

Comfort is a documented LIAR and CHARLATAN. Comfort is not a fundamentalist. Fundamentalists are his PREY. He know what he preaches is wrong. He has been corrected many times publicly about the errors in his preaching, yet he doesn't issue corrections and continues to tell those lies.

Comfort is in this for the MONEY. Period.

JimDiver, I once heard Ray preach and the subject of the Holocaust came up. He used the same quote then regarding weeping through the Holocaust. The context of this quote was his studying of the Holocaust when writing his book entitled "Hitler, God, and the Bible." I don't expect you to think much of Ray's intelligence, but even you should agree that a public figure such as himself would be too smart to tell such a blatant lie, having been born after WWII.

Comfort's ministry also has given out about 180,000 copies of 180 this last week, not to mention the fact that it is free to watch on youtube, whereas Comfort could have probably made considerably more money on the movie by selling it through well-known anti-abortion organizations. I have seen his ministry street preaching and have seen people approach them to offer them money, to which they reply, "Give it to your church or favorite ministry."

My reply is not so much to you, as you have probably made up your mind about Comfort, but for those who may possibly be mislead by your comment.

Ray Comfort: "So, what's a pretty good documentary could have been even stronger without the fools early on." Perhaps those who are quick to call these people fools lack perception themselves. These young people are rather ignorant as to perhaps the darkest period of human history, because the American education system has failed them.

I'd buy the arguments of people who believed abortion was murder if they favoured prosecuting women who had abortions for murder--I'd be particularly impressed if women who had abortions but then regretted it offered themselves up to the courts.

It would also help if these people favoured the construction of welfare state institutions, including publically funded daycare for working women, funded health care, and good public education, to lessen the burden of parenthood on women who might otherwise find themselves forced to choose. Oh, and if they were also pro-contraception, too.

I'm reading the comments from both sides of this conversation, and neither are helpful. Either it sounds like you condemn comfort, or fully support him. I'm a pro-lifer, like almost all believers. However, is it best to take such a controversial topic and compare it to another highly controversial subject? All it does is get people emotional. It doesn't push the conversation further, or help others to discover the truth.

Please correct me if I'm off by this, but the 180 film feels like a rhetorical tool to draw attention and to get people to make responses that change their opinion on a single issue, instead of aiming at the core of the issue: the heart.

But that is just my opinion. What do others think?

I know Ray and his family. He has a genuine love for Jesus and desires people to come to know Him. This 180 film is an eye opener and his style is to prick the hearts of those whose hearts are callous. I find nothing offensive with this film and its comparison to the holocaust. This film should be offensive to those whose eyes have been blinded by their own excuses and indifference. Keep up the great work, Ray!

I am the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor and I found this propaganda to be breathtakingly offensive. Excuse me, Mr Apostate Jew Ray Comfort. Get your history right. The Nazis banned abortion for non-Jewish women, ramping that up to capital punishment in 1943. Heinrich Himmler established the Reich Office for Combating Abortion and Homosexuality in 1934. My source? William Shirer's classic "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" (1960)

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