Attorney in Terri Schiavo case to speak on Sunday
When Bob and Mary Schindler approached the Christian Law Association in 2003 for help keeping their daughter alive, attorney David Gibbs III initially thought the case was beyond hope. He thought their daughter, Terri Schiavo, was brain dead, and her parents just couldn’t let go.
“I said, ‘Boy, Bob, it’s a tough situation,’ ” Gibbs recalled. “But when I met her, and I saw how she responded, how she smiled, she absolutely was aware.”
Schiavo, who collapsed at her St. Petersburg, Fla., home in 1990 and lapsed into a coma, became a national figure in the right-to-life movement and in constitutional law. Her husband, Michael, petitioned to remove her feeding tubes, while her parents, with Gibbs as their attorney, argued she was alive and aware behind what doctors had termed a “persistent vegetative state.”
Gibbs will recall his work on Schiavo’s case as the featured speaker at Landmark Baptist Church’s God and Country Day on Sunday. Gibbs will discuss constitutional law at the 9:45 a.m. Sunday school and will speak at the 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. services.
“We’ve been trying to get David Gibbs to visit for some time,” said the Rev. Tom Barlament, pastor of Landmark Baptist Church. “He represents quite a few churches that maybe aren’t able to practice in true freedom. He’ll bring some of those things to light.”
Gibbs said he long has been interested in legal issues facing Christians in America. His father, David Gibbs Jr., founded the Christian Law Association in 1969, an organization that gives free legal advice to Bible-based Christian churches that face obstacles practicing their religion, he said.
“I watched my dad do it, I grew up in it, I went to law school with that objective,” he said. “I like helping real people with real problems, people whose rights are being infringed upon. I like being able to step in and fight for those rights.”
After graduating from Duke University School of Law in 1993, Gibbs began working with the Christian Law Association, helping found programs such as the Capital Prayer Initiative, which encourages people to pray for political leaders and directs them in specific avenues of prayer.
“Politics is not going to save America,” Gibbs said. “It’s going to take individual citizens stepping forward and doing what we know is right. I believe that concerned citizens, people that want to follow after God, need to decide to humble themselves and pray. Pray for leaders, pray for judges, pray for those in our communities.”
Gibbs said he is guided by 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Gibbs also works with the Homeschool Legal Advantage — he and his wife, Carin, homeschool their four children — explaining that he believes in the “fundamental right of parents to direct and control the upbringing of their children,” he said. “What homeschooling hinges on is your right as a parent to make decisions, whether it’s schooling or otherwise, regarding your children,” he said. “We are big believers in parental choice. We believe parents are entrusted by God to make right decisions for their children.”
At God and Country Day, Gibbs said he will address constitutional law issues facing Christians in America, which segues into the Schiavo case. Schiavo died March 31, 2005, at a Pinellas Park, Fla., hospice, her case having been deliberated by the U.S. Supreme Court and addressed by former president George W. Bush and Congress.
“It was a wild moment in American history in terms of right to life,” Gibbs said. “A lot of people label the Schiavo case as the Roe v. Wade of our generation.”