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.
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 Postarticle 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."
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: