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Legal scholar Hadley Arkes recounts conversion story

August 25, 2010

In an interview with the National Catholic Register, Hadley Arkes, a professor at Amherst College and the architect of the Born-Alive Infants’ Protection Act, recounts his life’s religious journey from an Orthodox Jewish family to reception into the Catholic Church. Arkes recalls:

A critical moment came when the president of the synagogue at Amherst asked me to speak on Yom Kippur. I had spoken there often before, but I explained that the problem was that I could not speak in the synagogue on the most central, burning moral question of the day. He responded by saying, “There is no subject you would want to address that this congregation wouldn’t want to hear you on.”

I said, “Abortion.” What followed was a silence (the silence I had expected). And then he said, “I’ll get back to you.”

It confirmed something disquieting — that the condition of my staying in the synagogue was to preserve silence on the gravest moral question of the day in our politics. I thought that was a condition that should no longer be accepted. That’s when I stopped going.


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