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remembering  the  rescue  movement

  

 

On May 16th 2012 Father Norman Weslin died in Michigan, where he was born August 29th 1930.  He was the leader of the Lambs of Christ, a dedicated rescue group which carried out a sustained series of rescues all over the country beginning in April of 1989.  In their first two years, the Lambs rescued 25 times.  That is a pretty good average considering that they were regularly locked up in jail for weeks and even months at a time.  These were actions in which people sat down in the entrance of an abortuary until they were arrested and carried away.  Sometimes they locked themselves together to delay their removal and keep the abortuary closed as long as possible.  They had a remarkable discipline which included Jail, No Bail.  Everyone stayed in until everyone was released Time Served, however long it took.  Ninety-five of them were locked up in Burlington Vermont for 79 days, in the spring of 1990--their longest stretch. 

The result was that they were able to keep on rescuing at the expense of the legal system, instead of being bogged down with trials and fines etc.  That's how to do it.   Pro life activists from Denver, including Ken Scott, Rob Mauldin, Dolores Chavez, Sandra Cordts and DeAna Robinson rescued with the Lambs.  In the summer of 1992, 85 of us rescued in San Antonio with Father Weslin's group plus the Pro Life Action Network.  We refused to give our names or cooperate in any way with the jail authorities until we were all released a week later Time Served

Which meant that no one had to go back for a trial, it was over and done.  And they didn't get one dime from any of us--it was their treat.  No one paid a fine, no one put up a bail bond.  We didn't even accept personal recognizance, we didn't give our names, and no one left, until the last person was unconditionally released.  It was either time served for everybody or keep us until you get tired of feeding us.  All of the rescue rally speakers and all of the rescue leaders were right in there with us.  Since we filled up one whole dormitory, we had it all to ourselves and it became a week long retreat in the company of some of the most Spirit-filled people that I have ever met.  It really was a privilege to be there !

Dobbs Ferry 

When the Lambs joined those in jail for the Dobbs Ferry rescues in  January of 1991 it ended in a major success for the rescue movement.  The sustained rescue campaign at an abortuary in Dobbs Ferry, New York continued for more than a year.  On January 20th 1990, 85 were arrested including three nuns.  There was a series of pickets and rescues during the summer and rescuers were still in jail when Tom Herlihy of born (Bi-state Operation Rescue Network) and Pastor Skip Robokoff led a rescue of 38 people on September 28th 1990 where krypto locks were used.  They were still in jail when the Lambs rescued at Dobbs Ferry on January 8th and January 24th 1991, also using the krypton locks which slow the arrest procedure and keep the abortuary inoperable.  All of them maintained a non coop discipline, refused to give their names and refused to bail out. 

What finally broke the system, was a week of rescues by national Operation Rescue in which more than 400 people were arrested in Dobbs Ferry and White Plains.  These rescuers were released without going to jail, because of the large number of noncooperating rescuers already in there.  A group of determined noncooperators from Philadelphia were simply put out of the jail without even a ticket, when they refused to give their names.

Finally, they had to let them all go.  Two thousand people turned out to welcome the 71 pro life prisoners released from the Westchester County jail on February 4th 1991.  Twenty eight of them from born had been in more than four months, since September 28th 1990, and had refused any cooperation with the injustice system the whole time !  The other 43 were the Lambs who were also refusing to cooperate. 

Besides the three rescue organizations, the Dobbs Ferry abortuary had been under constant pressure because of a heavy picket line organized as Operation Goliath.  They shut the place down without any arrests when they mustered 500 people there on June 16th 1990.  On June 29th 1990, seven rescuers closed the place by chaining themselves on the floor.  Bishop Austin Vaughan and 350 others picketed there on December 8th 1990.  Cardinal O'Connor visited the rescuers in jail and said Mass for them. 

What made the difference in the battle of Dobbs Ferry was the cooperation of local and national rescue organizations.  The hundreds who picketed.  The thousands who gave support from outside the jail.  But the heart of the battle was the spirit of those who entirely sacrificed themselves to win a spiritual fight.  In the battle for the goods of this world, war is the decider.  In the ultimate battle between good and evil, there can be no victory without a moral equivalent of war, a willingness to pay the full price.  It is because of that spirit that these heroic rescuers won the battle of Dobbs Ferry.

The original group of rescuers from born were committed in advance to total noncooperation with the injustice system.  They pledged to remain in jail for an indefinite period of time, without posting bonds or paying fines.  They had no attorneys.  They wouldn't give their names, except for a "baby doe" pseudonym.  They passively resisted any cooperation with the court and jail system by going limp.  When dragged into court, they spoke only once, to demand that the court free them to rescue more babies.  They told the court that, even though it had power over them, it had no authority over them, while it used its authority to further the killing of babies.

The born rescuers were physically attacked by the guards in the Westchester County Jail when they refused to give their names or let themselves be fingerprinted.  Some were choked, others had their wrists twisted.  A guard kept stepping on the stomach of one rescuer who was passively noncooperating.  But even the routine conditions inside the jail were hard.  One of the worst things was loud rap music piped into the cells 14 hours a day from 11 am to 1 am, with no way to escape it or turn it off.  Imagine putting up with that for 4 months !  Plus the cockroaches.    And the rescuers had no idea when they would get out.  You trust in God, but you start wondering if God hasn't forgotten about you.  The Lambs Trust in God to Bail Them Out.  [  One partial remedy for a noisy jail is to make ear plugs from a wet paper towel. ]  

One of the born rescuers that I talked to was Ralph Traphagen, a Pentecostal minister who had been rescuing since Atlanta in August 1988.  He was in jail with the Lambs in Vermont in the spring of 1990.  But this was his longest sentence.  Why does he do it ?  In jail they sang a hymn which expressed it best for him: I have decided to follow Jesus. . . . though none go with us, we will follow, no turning back, no turning back.  As a follower of Jesus, he is called to witness and to sacrifice.  The prison letters of Joan Andrews were a major inspiration.  In them and in his own faith he finds the idea that the unborn children are  the least of these; that you have to identify with them and sacrifice for them; that the cross today has to be the burden of trying to save them from death, regardless of the consequences; that whether you succeed or not, you keep the children company by suffering with them; that you bear witness against the evil nation that kills babies.

Tom Herlihy, who led the born rescue, says that they made the commitment to total noncooperation for both moral and practical reasons.  They denied the very right of the police and the courts to stop them from rescuing babies.  And they couldn't let themselves be prevented from future rescue efforts by cooperating with the courts and making deals that would lead to bonds, trials, probation and stay-away orders.  The only "deal" they were offering the court was, in effect:  turn us loose so that we can save the babies--you have no right to stop us.

Tom's longest previous sentence was the 79 days he spent with the Lambs in Vermont in the spring of 1990.  This time he was in for 130 days.  He thought the major factor in their release was Father Norm Weslin and the Lambs, who came to return the favor of the born group which helped the Lambs in Vermont.  The witness of Joan Andrews was a major influence on him.  Courage is contagious, just like fear he says, and her courage put the men to shame.  Towards the end, Tom Herlihy said, his faith was severely tested.  But when it was over, he had no doubt that they had won a pitched battle against the almighty state, by the grace of almighty God.

Jail, No Bail

Jail, No Bail was a basic principle of Nonviolent Direct Action, which was usually abandoned in practice.  The Freedom Riders of 1961 were supposedly pledged to Jail, No Bail, but, after all the leaders bailed out, so did the rest except for a handful of die hards including me, who were committed to it on principle.  The failure to stick with Jail, No Bail gave the Mississippi authorities the legal weapon they used to stop the Freedom Rides.  The spiraling legal and transportation costs forced CORE to call a halt.  That part of the story is left out of the official accounts. 

In 1962 a group of anti war marchers stayed in jail for a couple of months until  Police Chief Laurie Pritchett finally agreed to let them march through Albany, Georgia.  He had successfully shut down the civil rights movement there after they failed to maintain the Jail, No Bail discipline.  After Martin Luther King bailed out, they all did.  And that killed the Albany Movement.  This group of anti war marchers, led by Brad Lyttle, showed how a group which stays committed to the basic principles of nonviolent direct action can prevail in even the toughest situation.  And that is what Father Weslin and the Lambs demonstrated during some 30 rescues.  [ Father Weslin's book is available from the crisis pregnancy home he started, Mary Weslin Homes, P.0. Box 241281, Omaha NE 68124 ]

In the end, the Civil Rights Movement succeeded mainly because of spectacular atrocities by people like Commissioner Eugene Bull Connor of Birmingham and Sheriff Jim Clark of Selma in full view of national and international media which put the story on the front page and the pictures on the evening TV news.  And ML King et al learned how to use the media.  In Birmingham, in the spring of 1963, Connor deployed police dogs and fire hoses against kids walking down the sidewalk carrying signs.  And the pictures were on front pages all over the world.  Two years earlier, the Freedom Riders made the front page after Connor allowed a Klan-led mob  to beat them up.  The mob beat up the reporters and photographers as well.  That gave them a little motivation to fully report on it.  In 1965, Sheriff Clark's mounted posse rode down peaceful voting rights marchers while the cameras rolled.  The Cossacks Ride Again !  The result was that everybody and his brother joined the March from Selma to Montgomery.   And the federal government was pushed to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  The Civil Rights Movement should put up a monument to Connor and Clark.  They deserve an award for Best Supporting Villainous Actors.  

The pro life action movement suffered worse atrocities at the hands of the police during the 1989 rescues, but the media made them disappear from public view.  The policy of the mainstream media towards the pro life action movement is ignore them if you can, smear them if you can't.  A little bit of nonviolent direct action and a lot of front page media is not going to work for us the way it once worked for the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti War Movement of the 1960s.  But a serious and sustained campaign of nonviolent direct action, relying upon the means of communication that belong to us, would work. 

the early rescue movement

The early rescue movement in Philadelphia and St. Louis was mostly Catholic.  In Philadelphia, Joe Roach, a former banker, led a series of rescues.  Joe Wall of Philadelphia was arrested some 33 times there and elsewhere.  He was part of the first Denver rescue in 1986 when National Right to Life and the National Organization of Women had conventions here the same week.  National Right to Life, under Wilke's leadership was already distancing the organization from any kind of direct action, but a group of delegates carried out a rescue at 20th and Vine.  National Right to Life has grown wimpier by the year, although it is hard to see how they manage to do it.  Catering to the cowards is the bottom line of their program.  The rescuers in 1986 were roughly and unprofessionally handled by the police.  

Joan Andrew's book You Reject Them, You Reject Me has a good history of the St. Louis rescue movement.  She started rescuing there in March 1980.  In 1986, she was given a 5 year sentence after she unplugged a suction machine in a Florida abortuary.  Here are some excerpts from my account in Pro Life Action bulletin # 4:  

Joan  Andrews:  the spirit of rescue

I'm just a little peon rescuer, she said, holding her thumb and index finger 2 inches apart to illustrate what she meant by littleI happened to get publicity.

She is a little peon rescuer who started rescuing in 1980 and who is still going strong a decade later after 150 arrests.  She got some publicity--half what her case deserved--when she was given a five year prison sentence for a rescue in Florida and for her subsequent refusal to knuckle under to the pro abort court.

She is obviously a truthful woman, but her modesty makes her untruthful about what she is.  She is at least a big peon rescuer to carry the weight she carries for the pro life movement.

Her remarkable courage and spiritual toughness, which stymied the system that tried to break her, made her a major inspiration to the pro life movement.  Her name and her witness seem to come up whenever you ask hard core rescuers about what motivates them.

She isn't the only pro life hero or heroine who has labored in the vineyard from the first hour but if you have to pick one to stand for them all, none of them will argue with the choice of Joan Andrews.

It is hard for most people to comprehend the character of a person like Joan Andrews--I'm not sure that I do.  Even for those in the pro life movement who also engage in nonviolent direct action and who get arrested for it she seems to be in some other dimension.

There is, first of all, the problem of her relationship with Jesus Christ and then her relationship with the preborn children she rescues.  It is simple enough in a way--she takes literally the gospel about accepting the cross and identifying with the least of these.  But that is so uncharacteristic of normal Christians that it strikes us as a kind of heathen fanaticism.  Instead of interpreting the gospel, she tries to live up to it.  We all know that it can't be done, so we naturally suspect her of being mentally unbalanced.

Why else would she insist on staying in prison when she could get out just by cooperating a little, by deferring to the judge.  We all have to defer to the judge don't we ?  Only stubborn and foolish persons think you can defy the judge.

Her non-cooperation in prison was essentially a contest of wills between one lone woman and the government, which gave her a five year prison sentence for trying to rescue the babies.  They put her in the worst prison in Florida, in a cell with no window, surrounded by hard cases, half-crazy from being locked up for years.  Every month they gave her the chance of getting an early release if she would start cooperating.  Every month she refused.  They insisted they would keep her the whole five years, but finally, after two and a half years, they released her--in October of 1988.  She immediately went back to rescuing and she has been doing it ever since.

She got some help from the outside.  As best they could, with no help from the media, no help from the federal government and very little help from the Church, the pro life movement mounted a pressure campaign against the State of Florida.  But it was mostly her own unconquerable spirit that finally effected her release.

In The Kingdom of God Is Within You, Leo Tolstoy says that most people understand why the individual must lay down his life for something larger than himself--for his family or his nation.  But they don't yet comprehend what Jesus showed us, that we must lay down our lives for what transcends the nation, just as He did.  I think that describes what Joan Andrews has shown us.

Here are some of the things she has to say about herself, about rescue and about noncooperation.  Quotes are from the talk she gave here in Denver September 19 1990 and from her book of prison letters:  You Reject Them, You Reject Me:

+++If there is a mining accident, everyone in the community helps to rescue the trapped miners.  So we are all called to help rescue the babies.

+++Without rescue, baby-killing becomes just another issue.  It's debated as an issue.  It's compromised as an issue.  It shouldn't be debated at all.  There can be no compromise with baby-killing.

+++Rescue says that these little pre-born babies are our brothers and sisters.  We block the execution with our bodies.  So, for the execution to take place, they first have to get rid of those that love the children.

+++The closer we are to the preborn children, the more faithful we are, then the more identically aligned we become with them.  This is our aim and goal: to wipe out the line of distinction between the preborn and their born friends, becoming ourselves discriminated against.  Good !  This is necessary.  Why should we be treated any differently ?  The rougher it gets for us, the more we can rejoice that we are succeeding.  No longer are we being treated so much as the privileged born, but as the discriminated against preborn.  We must become aligned with them completely and totally or else the double standard separating the preborn from the rest of humanity will never be eliminated.  I don't want to be treated any differently than my brother, my sister.  You reject them, you reject me.  (cf. Mt. 25:45)

+++We do not expect justice in the courts.  Furthermore, we do not seek it for ourselves when it is being denied our beloved preborn brothers and sisters.  Thus I plead a case for complete and total vulnerability in court by refusing self-defense and all legal argumentation for self protection.  We should in truth tell the court that we, as defenders and friends of the preborn, expect no justice and no compassion, as the true defendants, the preborn children, received none and were killed without due process on the day of the rescue attempt.  We only stand here in their stead, being substitute defendants by a compelling and painful logic.  They died for the crimes of being preborn and unwanted.  We expect no justice from a judicial system which decrees such savagery and a government which allows it.  If it is a crime punishable by death to be unwanted, maybe it should be a crime, punishable by death, to love the unwanted and to act to protect them.

[ In the Roman Empire, unwanted babies were exposed to die and it was a capital crime to rescue them from death.  But the early Christians did rescue them.  ]

+++One of the arresting police officers went into a rage when I refused to walk out, and he locked me in a stranglehold by the neck and demanded I walk out.  He kept choking me and almost got hysterical.  Finally he just dragged me out because I wouldn't submit.  He cursed and raged all the way back to the station.  I always remain silent in the face of rage unless I am asked a direct question.  My throat and jaw was bruised for more than a week.  Having faced this particular officer and others like him before, I think it is an inability for them to accept a disregard for their authority, which of course they don't have in this area.  We are always polite with the police, but we obviously cannot acknowledge their authority to force us to leave a death chamber while we are trying to rescue the victim, and some officers are just not able to accept that.  And you know, I am not surprised that many officers do not acknowledge the humanity of the preborn, and I'm not surprised that there are those who, though they do realize children are being legally murdered, yet follow orders and feel it is their duty to stop our rescue attempts.  And so I can't be surprised either that this makes many of them, probably the majority, act in an unprofessional and hot-headed manner.  Especially I am not surprised by this when you consider that though there are many, many people in our society who are opposed to abortion, knowing it kills our youngest children, that there are also many of those who do little or nothing to stop the killing, not even by casting a pro life vote, or publicly voicing a pro life opinion, because they are afraid of being viewed unfavorably by friends and peers.  So one can understand why police officers behave as they do.  Which is what makes officers like Dave Buford, who gave me the rosary, and Officer Fitzgerald, who broke down and wept after arresting John Ryan and Miriam, so wonderful.

[ Chet Gallagher, a Las Vegas police officer, became convicted in the middle of a rescue and joined the rescuers, thereby giving up his job.  He and Joan Andrews both later rescued with the Lambs. ]

+++I feel deep peace and acceptance for whatever comes.  Let others know this in case the sentence is a heavy one.  There will be a time when the courts will begin hitting us hard.  We must be prepared.  At the same time we must not shrink back when it comes.  We need to pray for strength that we hang together and accept in perfect submission whatever trials and penances come.  

[ written just before she was given the five year sentence on Sept 24 1986; the courts did begin hammering rescuers with extreme sentences;  and the police used pain compliance on them in a number of cities ] 

+++I firmly believe that we should physically make the community deal with us, put us out of the way, in order to carry out the killing in any given community.  This holocaust could not exist if even just the avowed prolifers in this country decided in unison to refuse all cooperation with it.  It doesn't take large numbers, but it does take great dedication by the few.

+++Numbers are impotent if those who comprise them are not willing to take up the Cross.  And not even jail is the real cross--especially as, with numbers, our people would be pretty safe from the threat of jail.  The real cross is dying to image-consciousness and being willing to confront the holocaust head-on.  Not just at the death camps, but in court and everywhere.  To totally refuse cooperation with any aspect of the holocaust and its rancid support system.  Forgive the soap box preaching, but I truly believe this is the way we have to go.  We have to step out from safety, no holds, and let each other be our protection in the Body of Christ.

+++It is my sincere belief that we will not be able to halt the killing, even were we to win a High Court reversal of Roe and Doe and even were we to gain a Human Life Amendment, until and unless our people stop the killing physically with their own bodies.  If this is not made clear, if we do not make the protection of children a fact by the obvious means we have always had at hand--our own bodies, our own lives--then abortion will continue barely abated once it's made illegal.  It will simply go "underground"--and barely will it have to do that, as the powers-that-be will simply turn a blind eye to it just as they did in the last years prior to 1973.

+++I should be on death row, not merely in confinement.  These courts and this society have ruled that all preborn children as well as newborn handicapped children can be placed on death row and summarily executed without so much as a mock trial.  So at the very least we should be condemned to death also after a mock trial, because we love these children and we try to defend them.

+++The most important reason why I cannot compromise is that it is the very issue of compromise--regarding cooperation--which has become the basis and structure and backup of the entire abortion holocaust.  I have been as guilty of this as anybody over the years.  But if we ceased compromising with the holocaust, we could end it virtually overnight.  

In her book she says that the new archbishop of St. Louis, John Lawrence May, told diocesan priests not to participate in the rescues and this was one of the reasons the St. Louis rescue movement shut down.  The main reason was probably the increasingly harsh sentences and atrocious treatment of rescuers. 

And there were other heroic rescuers who followed Joan Andrews.  A trio of Catholic women who called themselves Missionaries to the Unborn carried out a series of rescues in Vermont.  They stuck to total noncooperation.  They were here for the PLAN conference in 1993 in connection with World Youth Day.  One of them, Kay Trudell, has written some remarkable poems on pro life themes like the one called In Defense of the Throwaway People

In Milwaukee Pastor Matt Trewhella has led one of the strongest pro life groups in the country, the Missionaries to the Preborn.  Many of their rescuers received long prison sentences for persistent rescues.  Jim Soderna got two years.  Tom Nowak got one year.  Bryan Longworth and number of others served long sentences.  We should remember those who put it all on the line to save the babies.  They laid the foundation for the persistent movement we have today.  And they are still going 20 years later, bringing the reality of abortion to the middle of the city via giant posters and passing out pro life leaflets. 

Pain Compliance

In March 1989, dozens of women rescuers were physically and sexually abused and maltreated by Pittsburgh police and guards at the Allegheny County jail.  The Direct Action News (St. Louis) of August 1989 reported:  Warden Charles Kozakiewicz and those acting under him, dragged, kicked, punched, stripped, and molested these defenseless women.  Two women were stripped naked and dragged down a corridor in front of cells holding regular male prisoners, while police laughed and uttered graphic obscenities.  Most of these women were Catholic and a number of them were Steubenville coeds.  [ the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, not far from Pittsburgh; ]  There are more detailed and graphic accounts of the treatment of these rescuers.  A lawsuit on their behalf was unfortunately dismissed, because of the court house situation and also because of mishandling by incompetent attorneys. 

What happened to these rescuers was part of a nation-wide pattern of attack on the rescue movement.  Bishop George Lynch and several priests were among those severely injured by police mistreatment of the West Hartford Connecticut rescue on June 17th 1989.  Many of these rescuers suffered lasting injuries.  Judah of The Lambs was sidelined with a severe knee injury suffered in the West Hartford Connecticut rescue.  A similar pain compliance attack upon rescuers took place at an abortuary near Los Angeles.  Senator William Armstrong later held hearings into these attacks on rescuers which received very little attention in the media. They documented the fact that entirely peaceful psalm-singing rescuers were violently handled by police in a number of cities. 

In April 1989 the first Operation Rescue rescue in this area went to Leslie Durgin's Boulder Valley Women's Clinic and completely shut it down.  The Boulder police used a wheel chair to wheel the arrested rescuers away.  A large number of rescuers were arrested.  Anglican Catholic Bishop James Mote was one of several rescuers who refused to pay a fine and stayed in jail. 

On July 8th 1989, the rescue  came to 20th and Vine in Denver.  Over 100 police officers surrounded it as the Mayor demonstrated his support for Planned Parenthood.  The police used pain compliance on the rescuers--twisting their arms and thumbs to force them to stand and walk, a procedure I had never seen used against peaceful protestors.  A number of rescuers suffered injuries which were still bothering them a year later. 

extreme sentences

Those who persisted in rescuing were given extreme sentences.  In Pennsylvania, Steubenville students Mike Schmiedicke and Kevin Cleary did two years in prison.  Father John Osterhout and 6 Steubenville students were given a year in jail for a rescue in Allentown.  They could have been released had they agreed to stop rescuing babies but they all refused.  They were finally released in May of 1993.  In Boston, Father Thomas Carleton got 2 & 1/2 years for a rescue.  Meanwhile, the Catholic voters of Massachusetts continued to re-elect Ted Kennedy.  Here in Denver, Vern and Susan Kirby were given extreme sentences, as described earlier. 

Mike Schmiedicke was finally released on June 13th 1992 after he and fellow Steubenville student Kevin Cleary spent almost two years in prison for participating in two rescues in Pittsburgh, and for refusing parole offered on condition that they not rescue. 

He told me that, when he was in college, he had too much beer to drink one Saturday night and wound up in jail.  And thought he would kill himself if he ever wound up there again.  And yet, by God's grace, he spent two years in jail when he could have gotten out just by agreeing to the judge's demand that he quit rescuing  This is part of a letter he wrote to me.  [ from bulletin # 5 ]

Testimony of Mike Schmiedicke:  

"Rescue is in its essence charity, in fact, it is the fullness of charity, when done in the proper spirit, for no greater love hath a man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  That is why rescue is indispensable, that is why we must rescue, because this is a spiritual battle, the Truth confronting the Lie . . . 

"That is why rescue is so important, because it is the ultimate act of charity, which is the ultimate weapon against the Lie.  When we go there, we unequivocally assert the value of that child's life by showing that it is worth exactly as much as our own.  We love our neighbor as we love ourselves

"Rescue can't always be justified in terms of temporal effectiveness.  Currently, I am serving four years for two days of shutting down clinics--a prime example of foolishness and ineffectiveness.  Yet because this is a spiritual battle, I emerge, with Christ, as the ultimate victor through the paradox of the Cross.  Christ, at the time of his death, had some twelve followers, all of whom then deserted him as he went to the Cross.  Not a very effective evangelization program.  Yet because of what he did--He loved--He made possible the true conversion of millions and millions.  Likewise, rescue has a similar success record:  first minimal and eventually everything.

"So long as all you do is picket, counsel, etc. you relegate yourself to saving a few children in an endless stream of victims.  You might appear at first to be more effective than rescue, but the stream never ends.  While you save a few, you do not strike at the source and put an end to it.  It would be like Christ continuing on with his preaching/healing ministry but never carrying the Cross. While He would heal many, it would be a position of despair in the end, because there would be no final victory of good over evil.  Sooner or later, if you love enough, you must choose with Christ the desperation of the Cross. 

"A rescuer who goes to prison is confronting the totality of the Lie with the fullness of the Truth and is then bearing the consequences of that confrontation 24 hours a day.  Every hour he is in prison, he is a witness to the truth that children are good and worth even the sacrifice of a life.  He is constantly tempted with opportunities to capitulate--to accept parole or probation on condition that he promise not to rescue.  The temptations are hard and, if you refuse their "mercy" and their "generosity", then it's off to Calvary. 

"But if you agree to go and strive with Christ, to go like a lamb, you become, in union with Him, a constant stream of intercession to the Heart of the Father, your body a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to the Lord,  your whole will utterly crucified with Christ to make an offering that wounds with tender pity our Father's merciful Heart.  What we seek is the power of the Resurrection.  That alone can end abortion.  But the Resurrection, the ultimate victory of Love over the Lie, comes only after the Crucifixion.  It depends not on how many go, only that they go in love and persevere in faithfulness.  "

The Meaning of Rescue 

You can't argue with the self sacrificing dedication of those heroic rescuers who set the highest standard of personal commitment.  I will argue with the assumption that sitting in and getting arrested is the way to save babies from abortion.  Rescue is not a term which should be exclusively reserved for sitting down in the clinic entrance and getting arrested.  Anything you do which saves a baby from death by abortion is a rescue properly so-called. 

That is just what Sidewalk Counsellors do every day of the week standing out in front of the abortuary with their signs and literature.  That is what people do by handing out pro life leaflets in front of the high schools.  It requires as much courage to get out there with a sign all by yourself as it does to risk arrest with 100 others.  We have people who have been coming faithfully once or twice a week for 20 years.  And we have rescued a couple of babies every week. 

When we had the big rescues here in 1989, they happened two months apart and then quit entirely.  Most of those who participated had never done sidewalk counselling, or picketed an abortuary or passed out pro life leaflets.  And they still haven't.  They bailed out the same day and that was the end of it.  After that, they voted for George Bush. 

Any time you participate in nonviolent direct action you may find yourself talking to someone in a blue uniform.  The risk of being arrested accompanies serious efforts to save babies, just as the risk of getting wounded accompanies combat.  As witness the 100 plus arrests we accumulated over the years despite trying to stay within what we naively supposed to be our First Amendment Rights.  A good soldier doesn't just hide out where he runs no risk of being wounded.  But neither should he stroll out into a field of fire and get himself killed for nothing.  A similar sensible standard applies to rescuers.  

It is too easy to fall into that psychology where a bunch of people get arrested as an end in itself and as a one time adventure, not as the beginning of a serious and sustained commitment to rescuing babies.   That was a conspicuous feature of the later Civil Rights Movement and it showed up again in the later Rescue Movement.   Too many of them used a one time involvement with rescue as an excuse for doing nothing thereafter by way of personal witness.  I Rescued, therefore I am Saved was their attitude. 

Rescue  became a one time fad.  People got their Rescue medal and decided they only needed one.  60,000 rescued once.  6000 rescued twice.  600 rescued three times.  60 rescued four times.  We ended with half a dozen die hards still rescuing.  Meanwhile, before they gave it up entirely, Operation Rescue degenerated into Rescue for Tourists--those that could afford $ 1000 to fly some where and rescue and then bail themselves out and pay fines.  

Christians are called to be martyrs, which was an old Greek word meaning witness.  Called to bear witness to the truth even unto death.  But not all of them were called to be killed right away for refusing to participate in emperor worship and the wars of the empire.  Most were called to bear witness one day at a time, to live Christian lives and serve the brethren.  To pay out your life one day at a time in the Lord's service is also to be a martyr, a witness.  Sometimes it is harder to live for a cause than to die for it. 

If going to prison is the only way to make a complete commitment, then many people in the pro life movement have a very good excuse--their small children--for not making a complete commitment.  A major part of the pro life movement is made up of women with lots of small children and the men who work hard to support them.  It can't be right to ask these people to spend months in jail, to risk losing their jobs or to pay heavy fines.  But are the only alternatives the petition signing, the conventional politics, the token gestures and the once a year activism that seems to satisfy so many pro-lifers ?  I think we are all called to make a complete commitment and we shouldn't provide people with excuses for not making it.  So we have to find ways of making a complete commitment that aren't restricted to people without other responsibilities.

But there are many things they can do.  We have barely begun to do some of the effective things we could do to rescue babies, like passing out The First Nine Months to everyone in the State.  Meanwhile, there are a whole lot of bored senior citizens out there who might just as well play bridge in jail as any where else.  Youth is a wonderful thing but it is wasted on the young.  The grey panthers are the foundation of a durable direct action movement.  And it doesn't have to be a mass sit-in.  Two people sitting in the driveway disrupt the flow of customers.  And having 200 block the doors is only temporarily effective. 

What Happened to the Rescue Movement

There should be a Rescue Movement of people willing to face arrest to stop the abortion mill from going.  And there could be, if we can clear the wreckage of the last one off the tracks.  The first step is to understand why it failed. 

The main obstacle to a renewed rescue movement is that most Christians still have that false faith which killed the old rescue movement.  They still believe in the righteous Christian empire.  Why go to jail when you can vote for George Bush and let him take care of it ?  No doubt there was a failure of leadership but there was also a failure of followership.  They shared the same false faith. 

They had no faith in the necessity of Spiritual Warfare.  In making a Declaration of Independence from the World and sticking to it.  They believed instead that we could muster a Moral Majority and Take Back the Power Bases--Randall Terry's slogan.  They tried to use nonviolent direct action as an alternative road to political power.  That is what eroded the integrity of the Civil Rights movement in the late 1960s.  That is what produced the corruption you see in the career of Jesse Jackson and all the other hustlers. 

What Randall Terry did after he left Operation Rescue showed what his real agenda was.  He and others wasted millions of dollars, months of time and tons of pro life energy  in their futile attempt to get into Congress.  But they were only catering to that Worldly Christian faith which is the common spiritual disease of what pretends to be a pro life movement. 

Wimp out in Wichita

The cover story now circulating in the pro life movement says that the 1993 F.A.C.E bill--Free Access to Clinic Entrances--killed the Rescue Movement.  It is not true.  The Rescue Movement was as dead as vaudeville before FACE was passed.  It died out because pro life Christians did not really believe in do-it-yourself Christianity--aka nonviolent direct action.  It died out because Randall Terry and the rest of the Operation Rescue leadership chickened out in Wichita. 

Operation Rescue went to Wichita Kansas in the summer of 1991 because Wichita was still a place where rescuers received the same sort of lenient treatment given to other kinds of protestors.  After being booked they were released on $ 25 bail.   But then the abortion industry got a federal injunction.  Randall Terry left town.  The rest of the OR leaders followed. 

When you defy the judge and his injunction in round one, and then say something agreeable enough to get yourself out of jail in round two, that is a wimp out and it is no use pretending that Randall Terry did anything else.  Worse, the other Operation Rescue leaders followed his example and let their lawyers negotiate their own release on the same terms:  agreeing to abide by the injunction, to call off the rescues in effect, as far as they were concerned, and then leaving town.  And then they didn't have the grace afterwards to tell the truth about it.

35,000 people came out for the rally on Sunday the 25th of August.  The next morning there were 35 people ready to rescue.  And that was called off because, behind the scenes, the Operation Rescue lawyers were making a dishonorable deal with Judge Kelly to release the O.R. leaders still in jail.  In fact, that was the end of the Wichita rescue campaign.  Thanks to the wimp out by the O. R. leaders, defeat had been snatched from the jaws of victory.

The spectacle of 35,000 prolifers at a rally was wonderful.  The spectacle of 35 people willing to rescue the next morning was not so wonderful.  To paraphrase a Latin poet: the elephant goes into labor !   then ! . . . out comes a mouse !  Pat Robertson and George Grant weren't among the would be rescuers.  The next time they invite these gents to a rescue rally, they should make it clear that the invitation includes the rescue to be held the next morning.  If you are too much of a big shot to rescue with us, then don't bother making speeches at us.

The usual big pro life rally is supposed to be a hot air festival.  Rescue and rescuers in jail aren't even mentioned.  But this rally grew out of 40 days of continuous rescues, which led to 2000 arrests.  There were 150 rescuers sitting in jail the afternoon of the rally.  Everyone applauded the rescuers and two of them addressed the rally by phone from the jail.  That is why it was so strange that this mammoth rally actually killed the rescue campaign instead of revitalizing it.  How could it happen like that ?

The reason is that the Operation Rescue leaders had already decided to follow the example of Randall Terry and do whatever they had to do to get Judge Kelly to release them.  So, instead of using the rally to boost the rescue effort, they used it as cover to quit the rescue campaign and leave town.

Randall Terry was conspicuously missing from the rally, in obedience to Judge Kelly's order.  His failure to return for the mass rally on August 25th was the major reason that it turned into a hot air festival instead of leading to a renewed wave of rescues.  He had a moral obligation to be there and to personally lead the rescues.  He was the primary leader of the Wichita rescue campaign, and a courageous example from him would have been contagious.  Instead, he set an example of bowing to Judge Kelly's injunction.  His example was contagious.

Rescue  Movement R.I.P. 

That was the end of the rescue campaign in Wichita.  The rescuers still in jail for violating the injunction had committed themselves to the rescue campaign and expected the same commitment from the Operation Rescue leaders.  Instead, the rescue campaign was abandoned and the rescuers still in jail were left to get out on their own as best they could.  The crowd went home, where they could watch Pat Robertson on TV in comfort.  Randall Terry threw himself into a futile attempt to arrive at political power.  And everybody followed that lead too. 

Rescue was their stock in trade.  It was the whole justification for Operation Rescue.  But you can't rescue without going to jail !  You can't carry on a sustained series of rescues without getting hit with an injunction.  So how are you going to lead rescues if you aren't ready to pay the price?  The O.R. answer was to try and set up a secular style of leadership which let them be generals who don't put themselves at risk on the front lines.

The fuss about Judge Kelly's injunction was a smoke screen for the abandonment of the rescue effort by the O.R. leaders.  The legal basis for the injunction in federal law may be defective, but injunctions in response to rescue campaigns are a fact of life.  A sustained and serious rescue campaign will inevitably produce an injunction.  Every city that had a sustained rescue campaign has drawn an injunction under local, state or federal law.  If the federal basis for Judge Kelly's injunction was invalidated, it simply meant that the abortion industry would have to get an injunction under state law as they do elsewhere.  Now they can try to get an injunction under FACE. 

An injunction is always aimed at the leaders and organizers, who may not be present at the actual protest site.  The O.R. leaders wanted to lead the rescue from a safe distance, without getting themselves put in jail like the people who were actually rescuing.  The injunction prevented them from doing that.  The injunction made them personally responsible even though they stayed away from the rescue sites.  But that is a common feature of injunctions.  It just recognizes that those who organize and direct something are in fact answerable for it.

A rescue organization that can't meet the challenge of continuing to rescue, despite an injunction, is out of business as a rescue organization, however many interviews it gets in the media.  If the rescue leaders aren't prepared to personally defy the injunction and take the consequences, then who else is supposed to do it ?  What qualifies them to go on being the leaders if they no longer have the nerve to lead ?

One of the underlying problems was that Randall Terry burned out on being in jail during his last long sentence in Georgia in 1989-90.  He came out of it 23 lbs. lighter and looking 10 years older.  He felt betrayed by the pro life movement which didn't rally to help him.  He had sense enough to drop out of the leadership role in the spring of 1990.  Unfortunately, he couldn't resist the temptation to try and lead from a distance in Wichita.  He thereby set a style that all the other leaders in Operation Rescue copied.  They pushed others into going to jail while they stayed out--or bailed out--and held press conferences back at the hotel.

I don't fault anyone for getting burned out on going to jail.  Jail can be a very nasty place.  It is designed to break a man's spirit and it often does just that.  Even if you survive it spiritually, it can sap your emotional strength so that you aren't up to much for a long while afterwards.  If someone drops out of the movement for that reason I have no criticism for him.  But Randall Terry persisted in trying to lead the movement after he had dropped out of it.  And thereby mis-led it in a very destructive way. 

defying the injunction

An injunction is just a piece of paper, if enough people treat it like one.  It is a "law" which has no authority behind it except that of one unelected pro abortion judge, who is willing to be an errand boy for the abortion industry.  For a month after Judge Kelly handed down his injunction in Wichita, everyone ignored it and nothing was done about it.  In round one, Randall Terry treated the injunction like a piece of paper.  But a week later, he said what he had to say to get out of jail.

When the leaders back off from breaking the injunction, then everyone starts backing off.  Then the injunction becomes a monster that everyone fears.  The fearless few who continue to defy the injunction are gobbled up as a warning to everyone else.  That is just what happened in Wichita.  The next year they tried the same thing in Buffalo.  They pushed people to defy the injunction.  Then went off and left them in jail and liable for $1000 bonds.  The leaders avoided personal participation in the rescues.  When they were indicted anyway, for violating the injunction, they paid thousands of dollars to bail themselves out, while leaving everyone else stuck in jail.

They called a press conference and defied the injunction--verbally.  Then, when the actual rescue happened, they were some where else, usually holding another press conference.  It's like a man who invites everyone to dine with him at the fancy French restaurant.  Then he excuses himself--just before the waiter shows up with the bill !

In Wichita, Operation Rescue left the local people holding the bag--a very heavy bag with the weight of a federal injunction in it.  They played the game until they had raised the rescue ante from an afternoon in jail to a year in jail.  Then they said in effect:  "Here, you play out the rest of this hand !"  They took the collection basket with them and left the debts behind.

The verse invoked by Operation Rescue is Proverbs 24.11  Rescue those being led away to death.  But there was a seriously defective spirituality among the OR leadership.  Their spiritual reading was an antique Chinese military manual: The Art of War.  And there was a Commandos Strike at Dawn psychology which had little in common with the spirituality which is the necessary basis for The Spiritual Warfare of Jesus Christ. 

In common with most of those they led, the leaders of OR believed in Christians pursuing political power.  And, like the late 60s civil rights movement, they tried to use nonviolent direct action as an alternate road to political power.  It soon became the road to no where. 

Rescue for Tourists

At the end, the Operation Rescue program became Rescue for Tourists--people who want the once-in-a-lifetime thrill of being in a rescue, and who are willing to pay several thousand dollars for the privilege.  That's what it costs to get clear of the injustice system after Operation Rescue goes off and leaves you entangled with it.  No one who was serious about a commitment to rescue would put up with this more than once.  That is the major reason they had so many one time rescuers.

They didn't let it bother them that they left behind the wreckage of a rescue movement in the cities where they had major campaigns.  Instead of building the rescue movement up, they tore it down, because they didn't make a commitment to sustaining the battle that they started.   They started a fight and then walked away from it, leaving the local people to try and carry on a battle that was far too big for them to handle.

I am a little sensitive to the issue of leaders that bail themselves out, leaving their followers behind in jail.  It happened more than once in the civil rights movement--Reverend King gave some conspicuous examples of it.  He was a hero to the newspapers and to all the people who participated vicariously in the civil rights movement, but he was no hero to those who had to carry on the battle after he and the reporters left town.  And other civil rights leaders copied the style.  It put a premature end to the Freedom Rides in the summer of 1961 in which I participated.  I ended up spending five months in the Mississippi State Penitentiary that year with a handful of other diehards, but our glorious leaders, who had originally insisted upon jail--no bail !  were long gone--they all bailed out.  It wasn't a bad experience for me personally--it was a good one, really--but the Freedom Rides came to an abrupt and premature end because of the wimp out by the leadership.  It seriously diminished the value of the sacrifice that we had been called upon to make.  They threw away a great opportunity because they didn't have the spiritual grit to persevere.

The leader should not ask other people to do what he won't do.  If you are the leader, your rear end should go over the fence first.  You should be the last one to leave the jail, not the first one--like the captain who stays with his ship until everyone else is clear.  If you can't do that, you have no moral right to lead rescues. 

the failure of follower-ship 

The Rescue movement died out because of a leadership obsessed with the pursuit of political power and because of a followership with a false faith in the fundamental righteousness of the American Empire and in the broad road of conventional politics.  A faith that they could stick with the moral majority

People did not believe in building a Christian Society via Do It Yourself Christianity.  They believed in leaving it up to God and the Government.  Why go to jail when all you have to do is Vote for Bush ?   The President will take care of it, all I have to do is Vote.  And that is where we are now.  =  no where. 

The Rescue Movement died out because most of the nominally pro life Christians participating in it did not really believe in relying upon spiritual warfare to stop abortion.  That is why they rescued once and quit.  They did not believe that Christians must bear personal witness and must refuse to conform to the world which shrugs off the killing of babies by abortion, which calls it health care.  Especially if they had to do it and had to risk jail in order to do it. 

They believed that abortion could be stopped through conventional politics and the law.   The lawyers will find some new legal stratagem to reverse Roe versus Wade.  They still cling to that illusion because it is the necessary foundation of their own comfortable life style.  They can go along with the crowd.  They don't have to confront the crowd with personal witness to the truth about abortion.  They can wait patiently for the pro life politicians and the lawyers to do the job. 

When they finally lose that illusion, it is predictable that they will accept violence as the only way to stop abortion.  Violence by someone else anyway, while they support the troops.  They do not believe in nonviolent direct action or in using your first amendment rights out in front of the abortuary to save babies.  But they do believe in war, so long as they don't have to fight it. 

Not that there is likely to be a war over abortion.  Not that many care enough to fight about someone else's baby being killed.  But the increasingly rancorous divisions in American society have the potential for a violent conflict which will include abortion as one of  its moral justifications.  The American Civil War wasn't really about slavery.  It was about power and wealth, like all wars.  But the issue of slavery provided that moral tinge which wars require. 

The FACE ACT

FACE did not shut down the so-called Rescue Movement as many people mistakenly believe.  The FACE Act provided a convenient excuse for Operation Rescue to quit.  In 1993, the Clinton Administration pushed through the FACE bill, which gave the federal government a legal weapon to target pro life activists.  The specious justification for FACE was that there was a place or two in the whole country, like Wichita, where rescuers were not being hammered as hard as they were in the big cities. 

There is no reason to quit rescuing because the Federal Government gets involved.  If you can tolerate County Court, you will find that Federal Courts are larger and pleasanter.  You don't have to wait through a parade of drunk driving and domestic violence cases before they get to your case.  And federal jails are nicer than big city jails. 

When the Congress rushed through a law targeting draft card burning in the fall of 1965, it led to a wave of draft card burning.  It allowed men who were not draft eligible, like me, to join the 20 year olds facing conscription in defying the government.  By the spring of 1967 draft card burning had become a fad and the Feds gave up trying to enforce the law.  A similar thing could have happened had there been any real momentum in the so-called Rescue Movement.  Federal jails are no worse than the city jails that rescuers had to put up with.  And it would have raised the profile of rescue to a national level. 

reviving the rescue movement

We have to revive the Rescue Movement.  To do that we have to clear away the wreckage on the tracks.  We have to discard the false faith of conformist Christianity, of imperial Christianity which persists in believing that we can hold on to all our privileges as citizens of the empire without giving up our citizenship in the Kingdom of God.  That we can pursue political power and impose Christian morality via the power of the state.  The People Are With Us.  The principalities and powers of this world are on our side !  Or soon will be, after the next election.  [  See what Paul has to say about that. ]  

The Rescue movement of 1988-1991 was the largest nonviolent direct action movement the country has ever seen.  And the most peaceful.  It was never marred by the kind of rock throwing and vandalism that more and more marked the Civil Rights movement of the later 1960s as its runaway success began to attract an undisciplined crowd who stayed out so long as it was a small and risky movement.  The boast of Operation Rescue was that 60,000 rescuers were arrested without one conviction for assault.  Which, in a rescue, usually means that you bumped into someone or that they bumped into you.  The nonviolent discipline was as good as the early civil rights movement.  And had no similarity to contemporary demonstrations which routinely include vandalism and throwing things at the police. 

Because of the mis-reporting of the commercial news media, people outside the pro life movement still don't understand that a "rescue" isn't just another name for a protest or a demonstration.  It's a way of directly stopping the killing of babies.

There has never been anything quite like the rescue.  Most direct action movements find it difficult to directly target the evil they oppose.  The sit-ins did directly target the segregated lunch counters but most civil rights demonstrations were forced to target something or someone at several removes from the thing they were trying to get at.  They wound up doing stupid things like blocking the highway.  And it's the same with other movements.  In order to oppose the war, you wind up picketing the post office, because the military recruiters have an office there, but the war you want to stop is a long way off.

On August 6th 1963, a very hot Sunday in St. Louis, a couple dozen of us picketed the Post Office for an hour by way of a vigil commemorating the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.  That was about as close as we could get to the destruction of more than 100,000 people by the Hiroshima bomb.  There was a Catholic grade school at ground zero.  You can't get within 1000 miles of the war you are trying to stop.  But when you go to the local abortuary with a sign, you are a few feet away from the War on the Unborn.  The couple on their way to put a baby in the trash has to pass right by you.  If you sit down in the driveway, they have to drive over you.  Or stop. 

The abortion war is going on right in front of you and you can stop it, if you are willing to put your body on the line.  There sits the abortuary, and, just by sitting down in front of it, you can save the life of an abortion-bound baby and call everyone's attention to the murder going on there.  It's a life and death drama that cannot be misunderstood by anyone, as hard as the media tries to obscure what is going on.

Like the segregated lunch counters which were targeted by the sit-ins of the early 1960s, it is a situation that was made for direct action !  But at a price that many are unwilling or unable to pay.  But some are already paying the price and, every new day, a few more are joining them. 

We have to do everything we can to interfere, whether within the law or outside the law.  The law which allows abortion is not law, no more than the law which allowed slavery.  No more than the Roman law which made it a crime to pick up an infant exposed to die.  Can you let that infant die while you wait to change the law ?  Not if you pretend to be a Christian

There is a good argument to be made for not doing it, because you will soon be spending your time in jail instead of in front of the abortuary.  There is a bad argument that you can vote for somebody or something by way of stopping abortion.  There is a very bad argument that all you have to do is pray.  And that is why we must remember the rescuers.  And study the example they set.  And prayerfully consider following it. 

Importance of the Media

Four black bible college students sat in at a segregated lunch counter in Greensboro North Carolina on February 1st 1960.  The media gave it front page treatment.  By June, 20,000 people, mostly college students had participated in the lunch counter sit ins.  That launched the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. 

In the fall of 1988, I came across a small item, buried in the newspaper, which said that 200 more had been arrested in a rescue in Atlanta, bringing to 10,000 the number arrested there since the Democratic National Convention began.  I regularly read the newspaper and regularly clipped items about nonviolent direct action campaigns and this was the first I heard of rescues.  It shows how the mainstream media handled the rescue story.  But Randall Terry had gotten national publicity from two Christian programs, Pat Robertson's 700 Club and James Dobson's Focus on the Family.  They helped him launch Operation Rescue into a nation wide rescue organization. 

A major reason for the extreme sentences given to rescuers was the virtual black out in the media.  They can get away with inflicting extreme sentences on peaceful protesters because few are aware of it or concerned about it.  The Catholic diocesan press also paid very little attention to the pro life prisoners.  They are not comfortable with those who go to jail for what they believe. 

In Denver Vern and Susan Kirby were given extreme sentences--two years and $4000--for one sit-in and for once kneeling in the driveway of the Planned Parenthood abortuary here.  A couple of months later, the sentence was cut short after the Register belatedly ran a front page story about them.  The regular news media had ignored the story.  Before that, the media blacked them out.  A Rocky Mountain News reporter who did a sympathetic story on the rescue trials found her story buried in the want ads at the back of the paper. 

The diocesan press was allergic to the rescues or any serious anti abortion effort.  It is not likely that they will stop hiding in the pews any time soon and provide a reliable news source for nonviolent direct action to rescue babies from abortion.  EWTN isn't any better.  They cover the March in Washington as if it was somehow a Great Event for people to take a once a year bus trip to Washington.  Their reporter never heard of the rescue movement. 

Trying to use the mainstream media to deliver the pro life message is useless.  A serious pro life action movement has to proceed without any help from the mainstream media.  You can rely upon them to smear you if they cover you at all.  Even if you water down the message 9 parts water to 1 part message, like the official pro life organizations do, they will find a way to trash it. 

Sometimes I think it may be best that we get no media support.  They are at best a treacherous ally.  They put the Freedom Riders on the front page and then, not long after, put the Watts rioters and the Black Panthers on the front page.  Anything to sell newspapers.  The media spotlight attracts all sorts of people, like moths to the street light, who have vain and shallow motivation.  Who are more of a hindrance than a help.  It attracts all the hustlers who have something to sell or careers to promote.  But we still have our newsletters.  And the internet is creating new ways to communicate that we are only beginning to explore. 

It isn't just a set of tactics.  It implies that we build up the kind of responsible Christian community that we need to keep going, that we take care of one another as Christians should.  It implies that we stop playing soldiers, that we stop grand-standing for the media, and that we instead commit ourselves to a serious nonviolent movement to stop the killing of the unborn. 

One of the best things done in the civil rights movement was the Mississippi Summer campaign of 1964 which sent hundreds of volunteers into a campaign against the strongest fortress of the segregationists.  It cost the lives of three civil rights workers, but it broke the back of the racial segregation establishment.

If we are serious about rescue, we have to go after the hard targets.  We need to concentrate on places like Pittsburgh which have given the worst penalties to rescuers.  If you can once overwhelm the system in the toughest place you can find, other cities will back away from harsh treatment.  Are we tough enough yet to do that ?  I think we are getting a little tougher every day and that the day is coming when we will be ready.

But we need to weaken the other side and wear them down first by a sustained and serious campaign of nonviolent direct action in education.  The amount of public revulsion against abortion and the amount of public sympathy for rescuers directly determines how hard the injustice system can hit us.  If everyone on the jury panel at the court house plus all their friends and relatives had been handed a picture of Baby David at the shopping mall the month before, their verdict on abortion protesters would have been entirely different.  The main thing defeating us is our own lack of serious and sustained purpose.

Those first Christians did not wait around to be persecuted.  Like Jesus himself, they aggressively challenged the evil of the world which persecuted them.  Jesus warned them they would be taken to court.  The early Christians regularly went to jail as part of their witness against the world.  It was their common experience as described in Acts 4.3,  5.17,  8.3 and  12.6 etc.  Saint Paul's epistles were often written in jail.  That is how they defined themselves.  That experience was central to the growth and development of the Christian community.  Community meant something.  It was not the idle word we use now to describe something that is in no way a real community. 

How else can Christian society be re-established if not by confronting and struggling against the evil of the neo-pagan and pseudo-Christian society which surrounds us ? --this neo-pagan society which now pretends to be Christian.  That struggle renews the Spirit.  The Spirit regenerates the Christian community--the Christian society which will put an end to abortion among ourselves while it sets the example to the nation which is so obviously headed for self-destruction.  We can't keep it from going there.  That is the illusion we have to discard.  But we don't have to go along with it.  And we can thereby rescue at least some of those who will otherwise perish. 

The first Christians were told by Jesus that they must not conform to the world even while they continued to live in the world.  They must be in the world but not of the world.  What did he mean ?   John 14.22   how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us and not unto the world ?   15.19 the world hateth you   16.13  the Spirit will guide you into all truth    17.9  I pray for them;  I pray not for the world, but for them  17.11-18  these are in the world, they are not of the world.   That sharp distinction between the world and his followers is what worldly Christians have erased.  We cannot confront the evil of this world while we conform to the world. 

Friendship  with  the  World  is  Enmity  with  God  ( James 4.4 )

. . .  see  Letter to the Bishops   page 54 

for the continuation of this section


 

 

pro  life  nonviolent  action    1526 E. 35th Ave. Denver  CO.  80216


Open  your  mouth  for  the  speechless,  In  the  cause  of  all  who  are  appointed  to die.
Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.
  Proverbs   31.8-9   (nKJ)

For this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.  John  18.37

Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.  Matthew  25.40


Deb Piroch     EWTN


January 23rd 2004


Early on in your March for Life coverage, you talked to a woman from Pittsburgh who had once been arrested at an abortion clinic.  You playfully asked her:   were you tarred and feathered ?   Like most TV reporters, you assume that the less you know of a subject the more professionally you can handle it.  But there is no good excuse for the ignorance which you--and EWTN as represented by you--display in respect to what happened to the sit in rescuers in Pittsburgh 15 years ago. 

In March 1989, dozens of women rescuers were physically and sexually abused and maltreated by Pittsburgh police and guards at the Allegheny County jail.  The Direct Action News (St. Louis) of August 1989 reported:  Warden Charles Kozakiewicz and those acting under him, dragged, kicked, punched, stripped, and molested these defenseless women.  Two women were stripped naked and dragged down a corridor in front of cells holding regular male prisoners, while police laughed and uttered graphic obscenities.  Most of these women were Catholic and a number of them were U. of Steubenville coeds.  There are more detailed and graphic accounts of the treatment of these rescuers.  A lawsuit on their behalf was unfortunately dismissed, partly because of mishandling by incompetent attorneys. 

What happened to these rescuers was part of a nation-wide pattern whereby the rescue movement was attacked and destroyed.  Bishop George Lynch and several priests were among those severely injured by police mistreatment of the West Hartford Connecticut rescue on June 17th 1989.  Those who persisted in rescuing were given extreme sentences.  In Pennsylvania Mike Schmiedicke and Kevin Cleary did two years in prison.  Father John Osterhout and 6 Steubenville students were given a year in jail for a rescue in Allentown.  In Boston, Father Thomas Carleton got 2 & 1/2 years for a rescue. 

These people got hammered and the only serious anti abortion movement we ever had was destroyed.  The bishops were too busy protecting pedophiles to give them any support.  Most Catholics were hostile to it or they ignored it.  So called "pro life" Catholics clung to that easy way false and foolish Secular Christian faith you are still promoting--George Bush et al will overturn Roe v. Wade and restore a Christian America.  All Christians have to do is Pray, Vote and Show Up Once a Year.  If you don't make a more serious effort to educate yourselves and your viewers, you will still be broadcasting the same falsehoods and promoting the same forlorn and foolish faith at the  61st Anniversary March for Life 30 years from now.


 


Terry  Sullivan 

  
 [  this is pages 39 to 54 of Letter to the Bishops ]