A pastor is using his family’s story, international experience and apologetics background to advance the pro-life cause on the Coast.
Phil Magnan has been the senior pastor at Calvary Chapel in Lincoln City since 2012. Growing up, he had a basic sense that humans were valuable from fertilization onward. It wasn’t until he witnessed pro-life advocates being arrested at abortion clinics in 1989, however, that he truly began to examine his beliefs. What sort of conviction must drive them to do such a thing?
So Magnan began peacefully protesting outside abortion clinics, a practice that would last for 20 years. In 1995, he and his wife Diane began an organization called Life Source to reach churches with solid pro-life education and messaging. A young woman called Life Source and was disappointed to discover it was not an abortion clinic. Magnan encouraged her to keep her child anyway.
“Months later she called me back and said, ‘Perhaps you don’t remember me, but I wanted you to know that I gave birth to a baby girl,’” Magnan says. “Such a positive outcome could only encourage me to continue on.”
Pro-choice people said that Magnan would quickly abandon his pro-life principles if his child had a crisis pregnancy. However, when his daughter became pregnant as a teen, Magnan and his wife supported her fully. They were thrilled to have a granddaughter.
“That difficult event in our life would give us a lot of credibility and experience in encouraging other parents to not abandon their daughters who found themselves in a similar experience,” the pastor says. “Our daughter over the years has truly shown herself to be an incredibly godly, responsible mother of five daughters.”
Magnan eventually became fascinated by pro-life apologetics. In 2006, after starting another organization teaching on moral topics within the church, he and Diane headed to Hungary for seven months. There, they spoke to numerous churches and even medical students on the science and ethics of unborn life.
“The major takeaway from this encounter was that you never know what adventure your pro-life advocacy will lead you on, if you are willing to take real risks for children in the womb and women and men in crisis,” Magnan says. “We shouldn’t dabble with efforts on behalf of the unborn, as real lives are on the line.”
Today, Magnan is involved with the Central Coast chapter of Oregon Right to Life, volunteering at the Lincoln County fair booth and participating in Life Chain events. He also leads apologetics seminars and frequently incorporates whole-life ethics into sermons.
“If a pastor does not speak out on abortion, they have failed Christ in their duty to bring clarity on an issue that literally takes the lives of millions of children,” he says. “This is an incredibly tragic and preventable event if the Church will rise up with one voice to affirm life, purity and support for those in crisis.”