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"So what got you out today?" he asked me. We'd both just shot double bogeys on the fourth hole. "Well, I hate to say it, but in a way it was what happened with Tiller," I told him, not dishonestly. "I have a lot of liberal friends, and I have conservative friends, and when they started arguing about it, I thought I should be a little more active."
Dan shook his head and parked the golf cart next to the tee for the fifth hole. "That was a terrible thing," he said. "That's not us. I understand the frustration. We all wanted it [Tiller's clinic] closed. But it doesn't make us look good at all."
On the next hole, three other golfers joined us: Jim and Tom and Tom's son. They said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of the local chapter of Kansans for Life, was Jim and Tom's sister. No one talked about abortion much, but they did talk about classic muscle cars, and they dared one another to see who could hit the ball farthest using Adam Sandler's running swing from Happy Gilmore.
There were men still putting when we reached the seventh hole, so we stood there at the tees making small talk. "Yahoo News is just so suspect," Jim said, a driver slung over his shoulder, before starting to explain just how the site skewed sports and politics until black was white. Everyone agreed with this.
Jim was a history buff, too. He'd just seen a show on the History Channel about the science behind the Bible, explaining miracles reported by the Hebrews who escaped from slavery in Egypt and wandered the desert for 40 years before finally arriving at the Promised Land. Jim said that sometimes strong gusts forced the Red Sea back just enough to create a land bridge across the water. The scientists rigged up a wind tunnel to re-create the conditions.
"Every time they tried it, it worked," Jim said. "So you see how people would've called that a miracle."
"Yes, but where did the wind come from?" Dan asked, arching one quizzical eyebrow.
"Ah, see, that's the part they don't like to talk about," Jim said. He lined up and hit his drive. I shaded my eyes from the sun and watched the ball shoot up into the sky, turn and drop into the rough a short pitch away from the green.
After nine holes, everyone agreed that we had done all the good we needed to do for one day, and we abandoned the back nine in favor of the boxed lunch awaiting us at the clubhouse. I finished the day listening to Jim and Tom tell stories about being caddies when they were kids and joke about the boring sermons at St. Elizabeth's.
In the wake of Tiller's slaying, it was easy for me to picture anti-abortion groups redoubling their protests outside clinics, but my day on the links suggested that Kansans for Life wanted to avoid the politics of confrontation. The organization seemed to favor fundraising over winning new converts. To test my theory, I wrote to KFL's state director, David Gittrich. I told him that I was new to the movement and wanted guidance.