“I’m passionate about messaging that’s fearless, factual, and freeing,” says Ryan Bomberger, the founder of the Radiance Foundation. Bomberger, whose mother was raped and gave him up for adoption, is challenging those who, he says, are ignoring history and logic and refusing to defend the most defenseless.
Bomberger spoke with Catholic World Report about his work at the Radiance Foundation, which uses high-quality ads to convey pro-life messages, especially to the black community.
Catholic World Report: What is the Radiance Foundation and how did it come about?
Ryan Bomberger: Through creative ad campaigns, powerful multi-media presentations, and compassionate community outreach we address a myriad of social issues in the context of God-given purpose. We tackle issues of poverty, family disintegration, fatherlessness, pop culture, purity, character development, liberal feminism, civil rights, abortion, and adoption.
My wife, Bethany, and I created the Radiance Foundation in the spring of 2009 to help people understand and embrace their intrinsic value. Both of us have worked in urban environments most of our adult lives and have a heart to reach the broken. Bethany served as an educator in the public school system for years, and I was a creative director in the ad agency world before we embarked on this incredible journey.
The organization name comes from our daughter’s name, Radiance. Bethany was a single mom for a year, painfully finding herself in a situation she had encouraged her own students to avoid. Contrary to the abortion industry’s mantra, though, her “unplanned” pregnancy was not an unwanted or unloved child. Radiance changed Bethany’s life and my own. I became her daddy when she was one, and adopted her when she turned five. Today, Bethany and I have four children, two of whom are adopted.
My own story, too, serves as the foundation of our life-affirming efforts through the Radiance Foundation. I’m the 1 percent that’s used to justify 100 percent of abortions. My biological mother was raped, yet courageously chose to go through nine months of pregnancy. She chose life for me and allowed me to be adopted into an amazing multi-racial family of 15. Though I’ve never met her, millions around the globe have been touched by her singular decision that continues to reverberate. As my song “Meant to Be” says, “Now I can love and be loved…all because of you!” She made me possible. And it is this same possibility that the Radiance Foundation fights for with every ad campaign, speaking engagement, community outreach or social media interaction. We love sharing the transformational power of hope.
CWR: What has been the general response to your work?
Bomberger: People have been set free. We are so moved by the emails, voicemails, and direct conversations we have with those who share how their hearts have been changed! We love that. Bethany and I never would’ve expected to be fighting the giants we do today, but know giants fall—all the time. When God uses our work to speak to someone’s pain, to someone’s fear, to someone’s past and release that, we can’t express the joy we feel.
When we first started, in Atlanta, Georgia, we had no idea the media firestorm that would break out. We launched, as part of a Black History Awareness Month initiative, TooManyAborted.com. It was an educational effort to put abortion into an historical and statistical context. We were the first to launch a public ad campaign to highlight the hugely disproportionate impact of abortion on the black community. Our billboard/web campaign, declaring “Black Children are an Endangered Species: TooManyAborted.com” exploded. We placed 80 billboards in the metro Atlanta area and received massive media coverage from the New York Times, CNN, ABC World News, the LA Times, MSNBC, USA Today, AP, NPR, and seemingly the entire blogosphere. Most coverage was blatantly biased and pro-abortion. In an effort to portray this as racist (I’m as black as Obama), they either omitted any mention or image of me or denigrated me as some type of pawn of middle-aged white Catholic men. Most of the feedback from the public was overwhelmingly positive. Through this, Bethany and I became good friends with Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King. Black leaders from across the country have endorsed our campaign, including Dr. King, Star Parker, Dr. Freda Bush, Rev. Walter Hoye, Rev. Dean Nelson, Rev. Arnold Culbreath, as well as many prominent pro-life leaders.
Our subsequent larger-scale TooManyAborted.com campaigns, “Black & Beautiful,” “Juneteenth,” and “Fatherhood Begins in the Womb” generated a lot of media coverage and intense opposition from pro-abortion groups. We were denounced by Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and the NAACP. In fact, the NAACP blasted our “Black & Beautiful” billboards (60 placed in Oakland, California) by saying: “It’s a horrible approach and I think it is racist on the face of it. It’s misleading and a very, very poisonous approach to politics. They are just alienating people on both sides.”
Planned Parenthood held two national conferences to strategize how to combat our campaigns. They hired a new African-American media director (Veronica Byrd) and produced a documentary (which I call a crockumentary) called “A Vital Service.” Never mind black babies are aborted at up to six times the rate of white babies, fatherlessness [is at] 73 percent in the black community, and, despite Planned Parenthood’s dominance in urban areas, unintended pregnancy rates have never lowered in the black community since Roe.
Everywhere we go, people of diverse backgrounds and ages respond so positively to our work. We’re continually lauded for the quality of our creative work, our messaging, and our approach that tries to balance compassion with boldness. The biggest satisfaction is when people share how they’ve experienced freedom as a result of reading about, hearing, or seeing our work. As a fledgling organization, we feel absolutely blessed to have national leaders, like the March for Life’s Jeanne Monahan, Ann Scheidler of Prolife Action League, Peggy Hartshorn of Heartbeat International, Jedd Medefind of Christian Alliance for Orphans, Paul Rondeau of American Life League, and Dr. Alveda King, praising and endorsing our work.
CWR: Your work also includes involvement with the National Black Pro-life Coalition. What is that?
Bomberger: As someone who is biracial, I want my life and my actions to serve as a bridge of racial reconciliation. I have a passion to expose the racialists by identifying actual racism and informing the public of its impact. It’s funny how the race hucksters out there like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and the NAACP cry racism in every other facet of American life but the one institution that kills for a living (and kills, disproportionately, black babies).
Abortion is a tragedy no matter the race, but history shows this form of population control has always had one demographic, more than any other, in its crosshairs. The black pro-life movement had existed before the Radiance Foundation came into existence in 2009. However, I helped launch the National Black Pro-life Coalition (including creating all of the branding and the initial website) along with Dr. Alveda King, Dean Nelson, Catherine Davis, and others in 2011 to combat Planned Parenthood’s decades-long, racially targeted propaganda. The abortion chain’s influence in the black community has been a deliberate effort since their 1939 Negro Project, which promised poorer blacks that birth control would eliminate poverty. In order to educate the public about America’s eugenic past and present and the alarming epidemic of abortion in the black community, we wanted to speak as a nationwide voice against an organization that was born in eugenic racism.
Although I stepped away from the core leadership last fall to focus on the demanding schedule and work of the Radiance Foundation, I still partner and support my friends and colleagues in our shared effort to expose the abortion industry.
CWR: You have referred to the plight of the unborn as a human rights issue, similar to slavery. Can you explain this further?
Bomberger: In our multimedia presentation, “The Social Injustice of Abortion,” I discuss the numerous UN documents that demand the protection of the unborn child; documents such as the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” the “Convention on the Rights of the Child,” the “Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of the Crime of Genocide,” and the “Declaration of the Rights of the Child.” All of these were passed as a result of the horrors of World War II and the Jewish Holocaust. In the desperately necessary effort to affirm the value of all human life, the UN passed these documents. (Of course, today, pro-abortion NGOs and activists are trying desperately to have abortion deemed a “human right” by the UN.) So, this is not some right-wing perspective on the humanity of the child. The UN’s “Declaration of the Rights of the Child” declares: “Whereas the child, by reason of his physical or mental maturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth…”
There are no two examples in American jurisprudence that are more closely tied than slavery and abortion. In each case, a group of human beings have been determined to be less than human and can be bought, sold, traded, or killed because the Constitution (according to an often-wrong Supreme Court) doesn’t apply to them. The 1857 Dred Scott case made the same determination as Roe, rendering humans subject to violence and death because the same number of supremely wrong justices (7-2) decided they had the power to define humanity. In both industries of slavery and abortion, there is immense profit from the dehumanization of a group of human beings. In slavery, black women were force-bred and their children were often taken away, to eliminate bonding. Slave masters profited from the frequency of births and the children severed from the mothers. In abortion, sexual promiscuity is preached by the industry (which claims it reduces the unintended pregnancy rate but has never done so), allowing the frequently-conceived children to be severed inside of their mothers in order to profit the abortionists.
It’s worth noting that the same law, the 14th Amendment, which finally ascribed humanity to people of my complexion, was invoked numerous times by Justice Harry Blackmun in his majority opinion in Roe. The 14th Amendment, part of the three Reconstruction Amendments, was the tireless effort of the Party of Lincoln to abolish slavery and restore the humanity that was stripped from black Americans. The fact that Roe v. Wade perverted a civil rights amendment to deny the most civil right to the unborn further ties slavery to abortion.
CWR: Why do you think people can see the problem with the statement “Pro-Negro. Pro-Slavery,” but not a problem with “Pro-Child. Pro-Choice”?
Bomberger: I often highlight this hypocrisy, especially of liberals who claim to be “Pro-child, Pro-choice.” I compare it to Democrat politicians during the fight against the 13th Amendment (where the entire party voted against the amendment). I suggest, using pro-abortion reasoning, that those lawmakers would claim they were “Pro-Slave. Pro-Slavery.” This is the exact same argument. There is no benefit for a child in being mutilated and dehumanized—no more than a slave benefits from being beaten and dehumanized. There are those who see the comparison so clearly. Most pro-abortion activists respond with faux indignation at the comparison. They ignore history. And logic.
CWR: What are your thoughts on the Trayvon Martin case? Do you think the lingering rage is really about race, or is it perhaps rooted in deeper issues, like the break-down of the family and fatherless-ness, especially in the black community, as some have suggested?
Bomberger: My heart breaks for the ending of any young person’s life. Trayvon Martin’s tragic death is being exploited, though, by racialists like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Melissa Harris-Perry, and Tavis Smiley. They ignore the far more disturbing issue of black-on-black violence while hyping far less frequent white-on-black crime. The lingering rage is about a community that’s been force-fed liberal social policies that have aided the destruction of the black family. Fatherless communities impacted by all the natural consequences of father absence: higher crime rates, lower educational achievement, more drug usage, more teenage pregnancies, lower employment, more violence, more deaths. Nearly 73 percent of black children are born into homes without fathers. We see the aftermath of this epidemic every day—deaths and crimes ignored by mainstream media destroying beautiful possibility in urban areas across this country. It’s easier to blame things on “white guilt,” “white privilege,” and “racial profiling.” It’s much harder to be introspective and accept the blame and responsibility for unhealthy actions, disregard for character, and worship of celebrities and other figures who model destructive behaviors.
CWR: What markets and/or projects would you like to take up next? What would you do if you had a blank check?
Bomberger: We have a number of really exciting projects in the works. One of them is the History Project—a series of motion graphics videos that tell the true timeline of American civil rights. We also have a new initiative called So Show Justice® that will serve as a nationwide database of faith-based organizations that daily care about people’s needs from conception until natural death. The lame pro-abortion mantra that “pro-lifers don’t care about children after they’re born” is disproven every day by pro-life Christians who are engaged in issues of social justice. So Show Justice® not only connects people with local efforts they can get involved with, it will also hold events to help people move from rhetoric to action.
If we had a blank check, we’d expand our efforts to help promote adoption. This fall we’ll be launching our www.AdoptedandLoved.com initiative. We’d love to be able to provide families financial assistance in their adoption journey. Sometimes adoption can be quite costly. Our government does a horrible job supporting families who open their hearts and their homes to children through adoption. We’d love to help make more forever families and wipe off the foster care rolls of children waiting to be loved.
We also hope to expand our “Designed to Create” workshops with millennials to train artists (photographers, writers, designers, editors, musicians, illustrators, motionographers, spoken-word artists…) how to use their creativity to help create opportunities for people to know the truth and experience freedom. We need to harness the incredible abilities that are all around us and put those skills to effective and life-changing use. Why should we let the secular world nab the great talent and squander it on so much meaningless clutter?
We’d love to expand our “Shine” outreach that focuses on community, character, and compassion. There are so many people out there who help others to shine and live out their God-given purpose. The Radiance Foundation started out highlighting these amazing champions, rewarding them with small financial gifts, and [we] want to continue to enable them to do their potential-releasing work.