A new web search page based in the U.S., but serving the international community, is allowing internet surfers to find the information they are looking for, avoid objectionable advertisements and pornography and contribute to pro-life-related causes without shelling money directly out of their own pockets.
ProLifeSearch.com was launched on a voluntary basis during the fall of 2005 as the world’s first pro-life search engine by Jack Manhire and Joe Hanley, two Chicago, Ill. lawyers. They had been having conversations about being more pro-active in their community and exploring ways of doing something new. They eventually came across the topic of the internet and some of the large amounts of money being created through that medium, particularly through advertisements that appear on prominent websites.
“I think Google, by that point, had announced it was giving about $1 billion to charitable efforts,” Manhire said in a recent interview with Paul Bulas of Toronto-based Catholic Radio. “None of that money was going to pro-life causes, even though pro-life people use the internet just as much as anybody else … After a few discussions about being part of the problem or part of the solution, we decided to figure out a way to be able to tap into some of that … to be able to provide support to pro-life groups and pro-life organizations.”
Pro-life issues “are a controversial topic most executives don’t want to touch with a 10-foot pole,” ProLifeSearch.com noted in a press release. “The result is that the pro-life community becomes marginalized. Sure, you can buy a pro-life bumper sticker on the web or maybe a T-shirt. But until now, there was no way for the pro-life community to support their cause by simply being a member of the mainstream economy.”
ProLifeSearch.com began by using Google as the basis of its search engine, but it has emerged that Google does not want ProLife Search.com to use its ad network to generate donations for pro-life charities. (In fact, the U.S.A. Today newspaper has reported that Google will only give free ad space to non-religious and non-political groups because, curiously enough, it wants to be “fair and unbiased” in everything it does. Yet, it accepts ads from Planned Parenthood and other abortion committers.) So, Pro-LifeSearch.com has been looking for a new search partner for the last few months.
“A few of the big ones turned us down for religious/political reasons, but surprisingly, not all,” said an entry on the ProLifeSearch.com blog. “We are currently in negotiations with two great search result providers – names to be announced once the contracts are signed. This will allow us to control the content on the search engine results page to include our own ad network, thereby increasing revenues to create more donations for the pro-life charities that so desperately need them.”
ProLifeSearch.com also has a number of technological improvements coming that will take the site beyond just search technology and bring a good deal more of the internet’s mainstream technology to the pro-life community. While management remains tight-lipped about specifics of these improvements, Manhire told Catholic Radio that shopping, news, blogs and partnerships with other pro-life sites are possibilities.
ProLifeSearch.com recently added Dr. Charles Rice, Edward J. Adams, Jr. and Father John Blum to its advisory board, with a number of others in the process of being invited to join.
So far, almost $11,000 has been generated by the site, with monies going to a wide range of pro-life-related charities in the U.S. Manhire said he and Hanley are “very excited” about their project and the response it has drawn so far. The unique visitor count is already in the tens of thousands and the site is taking on a life of its own.
“People have been listing us on their blogs. People have been calling friends and family, e-mailing them, word of mouth, (there’s been) some media support … The more the community supports the site … the more it will grow. Of course, we’re always interested in partnering with anyone who’s willing to help us spread the word … It’s worked very well so far. We’re very happy.”
In addition to encouraging people to publicize and promote the site in any way they can, ProLifeSearch.com is on the lookout for new advertisers who will help fund the site and foster its growth and improvement.
With files from Theresa Smyth and Catholic Radio.