Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Over one million, empty, red envelopes have poured into the White House mail room, symbolizing the empty promise of lives snuffed out in abortion; and with Red Envelope Day planned for tomorrow, coordinators estimate that number could more than double.
The Red Envelope Project is an idea sparked in the mind and prayers of a Massachusetts man, Christ Otto, who envisioned in January thousands of red envelopes sent to the White House, a visual expression of moral outrage over the president’s position on abortion.
On the backs of the envelopes, senders write a message Otto composed: “This envelope represents one child who died in abortion. It is empty because that life was unable to offer anything to the world. Responsibility begins with conception.”
“We are trying to change the president’s heart,” Otto writes on a website explaining the project. “This is a message to a man that God hears the cry of innocent blood. It is not a political stunt, although I hope it changes policy in Washington. If the capital is flooded with so many letters that no one can deny it, I am hoping the image will be burned into Barack Obama’s mind that this is about human blood, and that he lies awake at night until he cannot resist doing something about it.”
The original project began small, but when Otto sent out an email to friends asking them to join him in the envelope effort, the symbolic gesture spread through the Internet like wildfire.
“I sent an email to 120 people who pray for me daily, and asked them if they wouldn’t mind sending a red envelope, and if they thought it was a good idea, forwarding it on to their friends,” Otto told WND. “About a week and half later, a friend told me to Google it, and I found about 30 blogs dedicated to the red envelopes.”
Otto told WND a few days later, he began receiving contacts from national pro-life organizations and churches that had taken up the cause.
By February, Otto learned of a Texas man named Brian Potter, who set March 31 as Red Envelope Day, a date when supporters would drop hundreds of thousands of the envelopes in the mail, presumably being delivered to the White House near the beginning of Holy Week, just prior to the start of Passover.
Visitors to Otto’s site have testified to over 1.1 million envelopes sent so far; Potter’s website records more than 125,000 envelopes waiting to be sent on March 31; and Otto told WND churches around the country are piling up envelopes, thousands at a time, preparing to mail an estimated quarter of a million tomorrow.
The Catholic News Agency reports that a consortium of 11 different student groups at the University of Notre Dame, in protest of the university’s invitation of Barack Obama to speak at graduation, plan to hand deliver a surge of the red envelopes to the pro-abortion president when he arrives to give the commencement address in May.
Otto told WND the message on the backs of the envelopes was crafted in response to a previous Obama speech, his inaugural address.
“The president spoke for a long time about creating a culture of responsibility, and part of creating a culture of responsibility was not taking the lives of the innocent. He actually said that in his inaugural address,” Otto said. “That was why I added the line, ‘Responsibility begins with conception.’”
“The envelopes represent the innocent blood shed through abortion, and the plea for the blood of Jesus over the sin of our nation,” writes Otto. “This campaign is a symbolic act to flood the mail with red. The more we send, the more powerful this symbol will be.”
Otto told WND he thought a few thousand red envelopes would simply be a statement, showing that there are still people who care about the abortion issue deeply. As more and more people have joined him, however, Otto says the red envelopes are having an effect.
“Do I think it will change the President? I don’t know,” Otto writes on his website. “Last week I received an unsolicited call from a senator’s office. They thought that I was in Washington, and that I must have a huge PAC. This gave me indication that someone on Capitol Hill knows about these envelopes. So, I guess it is making a difference.”
Otto told WND, “As I’ve watched this grow, it’s become clearer and clearer to me that the thing I’d like people to see is that they can make a difference in whatever they do. The message of my life is to listen to God and do what he tells you. And if you listen to God and do what he tells you and live a live of prayer and obedience, you can make a difference.
“I know this has empowered many people who felt powerless before this came along,” Otto continued. “I know that there are thousands of people involved – there are a quarter of a million on Facebook alone – and if people can see that they still have a voice, to me, that means it’s a success.”