The Clarity of Kansas in Cleveland

By Doug Magill


I think we need stories, and we need to tell the stories over and over and over not only to remind us, but to be able to have that clarity of experience that changes us, so that we know who we are now because of who we have been at some other time.  Colum McCann

Recently Alternaterm held its 30th anniversary Spring Gala.  The event featured a talk by Alveda King, niece of the Reverend Martin Luther King, as well as an appearance by John Elefante, former lead singer of Kansas.  As usual, because the event celebrated the work of an organization that tries to help its clients find alternative solutions to pregnancy other than abortion, the local media did not send a representative.

Dr. King spoke with fervor about past discrimination, and the clear message that her uncle had concerning abortion:  “The Negro cannot win if he is willing to sacrifice the futures of his children for immediate personal comfort and safety. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

An animated and friendly presence, she illuminated the connection between Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, and the attempt to eliminate the black community by using religion to disguise its purposes.  She acknowledged that she had once accepted the lies of Planned Parenthood until she understood the violence that was being perpetuated upon unborn children, and upon the black community.

She clearly stated her vision: “…I too have a dream, it’s in my genes. How can the dream survive if we murder the children?

John Elefante moved the audience through an emotional appeal that was carried through his music.  With matinee looks, a roguish smile and gentle eyes driving a laser-guided voice, he showed that storytelling coupled with music can be a soul-touching experience.

While he sang a couple of well-known songs from the Kansas catalog, he received a standing ovation for his eloquent video of the incredible story of the mother of his adopted daughter.  A pregnant child of thirteen she was in a clinic preparing to receive an abortion when she was startled by a dream about a little girl and a voice telling her, “You’re not taking her this time.”

Escaping from the clinic she phoned her mother, who didn’t know she was pregnant, and ultimately delivered the child who was adopted by John and his wife.

John’s video is called This Time.

Elefante had been a Christian before he joined Kansas.  He spoke with quiet conviction about drifting away from his beliefs due to the enormous temptations of the rock-star lifestyle.  He said it happens slowly, one minor indulgence at a time while pushing God away.  The rationalization was always clear: it’s only for a while and just for now.

Ultimately, the distance grows and God is a memory to the pleasures of the moment.

But one night on tour John realized what he was losing, and the journey back involved rediscovering not just God, but himself.  The clarity of that experience led him to adopt the girl born to the mother described in the video, as well as a son later on.  He and his wife to that point were unable to have children, and his acceptance of that was the impetus to adoption, and to his deeper spiritual journey.  Several years later they unexpectedly had a son, and he believes that it was God’s influence in his life that gave him that gift.

The release of This Time has opened John’s eyes to challenges of Christianity today.  He had difficulty finding any nominally Christian radio stations willing to play the song, due to its “controversial” nature.  He was hurt yet energized to realize that the Christian message is being distorted and marginalized in service of a more hedonistic society reluctant to ascribe morality to the consequences of our actions.

He was delighted to be able to use Kickstarter to help produce and release his recent album.  Yet we now know that the same organization is backing away from such things as a film about the horrors of the Gosnell clinic due to its “controversial” nature.   We will see more of this, as businesses fear the aggressive attacks of those hostile to religion in any form, particularly as a check on the solipsistic nature of modern society.

Yet, in some ways the tide is turning.  One recent poll shows over 6 in 10 of Americans believe abortion is morally wrong and a staggering 80 percent support restrictions on abortion.  The same poll shows that 53 percent believe that life begins at conception.  As science continues to expand its understanding of the miracle of life, we should expect more awareness on the part of most Americans of the horrors of abortion.

John Elefante will tell you that his life today has challenges, and a mission.  He is incredibly busy with a number of businesses and still continues to record and produce music (The song, This Time can be found on his latest album On My Way to the Sun).  His mission is an evangelical one related to the sanctity of life, and the need to help others understand the role God must necessarily play in our lives.

And to help us all find our way back to the music of life.

By our effort and example may God use us, as imperfect vessels that we are, to bring an end to such ancient evils as infanticide, abortion, racism and oppression.”  Dr. Alveda C. King


Doug Magill is a communications consultant, freelance writer and voice-over talent.  He can be reached at



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