The Modern Abortion Abolitionists
An MSNBC feature on AHA co-founder Toby Harmon came from a left-leaning slant, but did not expose the “fanaticism” the reporter was looking for.
In my previous article, I described how I spent a week in a timeshare in New Orleans while attending Operation Save America’s National Event with Abolish Human Abortion (AHA) founders T. Russell Hunter and Toby Harmon. AHA sees itself as a movement and not an organization. They do not have members or affiliates. They strongly advocate non-violent, peaceful resistance to abortion. Groups that brandish the AHA logo understand that there is a philosophy behind the Abolitionist cause. There is also a certain amount of baggage as there is with any ministry that fights abortion aggressively. This infamy tends to weed out the pro-lifers who like AHA’s graphics and slogans, but cannot go the whole way and adopt their ideology and tactics.
There are about 70 Abortion Abolitionist Societies throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and England. Do not call them “pro-life” or an “organization” or they will immediately correct you. Although the theology of the group cuts across a wide swath of the evangelical spectrum, they tend to be covenantal in their thinking and not pietists.
What I noticed while fellowshipping with several of the Abortion Abolitionist Society leaders last July is that they tend to be rigorously consistent in matching their theology with their activism, which is a trait absent in many pro-life groups. They also tend to be young, intelligent and highly committed to the cause of Abortion Abolition.
There is among them a duality of personalities. They tend to either be movement leaders or serious theological-philosophical scholars. The movement mentality tends to be very different from the scholar mentality. For the movement leader, everyone should either be for the cause or against it. You are either hot or cold. Those who accept some ideas, but not all, are compromisers. Jesus was a movement leader. So were the Apostles Peter, James and John.
The Apostle Paul, on the other hand, had the ability to live in the Gentile world as a Jew. He was called to write scholarly treatises on the faith, not in contradiction to the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, but explaining them to the world in a way that some of the Jewish Apostles could not initially grasp. Similarly, Luther and Calvin had a movement mentality. You were either for the Reformation or you were against it. A scholar like Erasmus who wanted to accept some aspects but not others was demonized.
Movement leaders set things in motion and then the scholars systematize, critique and solve the problems that arise within the movement. T. Russell Hunter is that rare combination of both. He’s a charismatic leader and a student of history. I therefore see great promise in the Abortion Abolitionist movement. Among these leaders there is a precision of rhetoric and a gifting for branding and marketing the message through social media. This has been effective in reaching and converting younger generation leaders to the abolitionist call.
As a student of the effort to end abortion over the past 25 years, I am critical of a few of AHA’s tactics and stances. However, I consider the vast majority of their Christian theology, strategy and practical logistics to be sound and biblically based. The strategy to boldly state that we want to end abortion at the outset and settle for no moral compromise is correct. I believe that some initial problems created by their penchant for polemic posturing will be corrected in time. Some attacks by outsiders are based straw man arguments – stating that “Abolitionists believe or practice this or that …” when they deny it. Other attacks are based on outright lies.
I found it interesting to watch an MSNBC feature on Toby Harmon. The reporter for the left-leaning news network stated that she was expecting to find wide-eyed fanatics in the Bible Belt leading a protest. Instead she found reasonable, intelligent young men and women trying to dialog with high school students.
More importantly, the Abortion Abolitionist movement is evidence of a paradigm shift in the pro-life movement back to the original view that abortion must be abolished – not with a pragmatic, political, social or economic argument – but on the call to embrace the sacred Truth that we are each image bearers of God and the call to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Slavery and Abortion: A Comparison
The comparison between slavery and abortion is not a new concept, but it has been developed in the last few years with the reemergence of William Wilberforce as a popular figure in the modern evangelical culture. When we look at the arguments used by pro-slavery advocates in Wilberforce’s day, there is an eerie similarity to that of the pro-abortionists.
Two hundred years ago, those hoping to maintain the institution of slavery liked to argue that slaves living free in Africa were subject to violence, famine and sickness and were better off as slaves on a New World plantation. Today, those arguing to maintain abortion rights like to argue that it is better for a fetus to be aborted than to be born into a family who will abuse the child.
British legislators in the time of Wilberforce worried that if Great Britain abolished the slave trade, it would be taken up with vigor by France, Spain and Holland. American pro-abortion advocates argue that if abortion is banned, poor women will still seek illegal abortions and rich and middle class women will simply travel to places where abortion is legal.
Slavery advocates trumped up fears of uprisings, massacres and rebellions led by freed slaves. Pro-aborts like to argue that thousands or even millions of women will die of illegal abortion if it is outlawed.
Slavery was often defended as a “necessary evil” that was profitable for commerce and to support the British economy. Abortion is often defended because women who cannot afford a child will have to sacrifice their income, education and career. Therefore abortion is necessary to support their private economy and by extension helps the national economy.
Slavery defenders claimed that slaves were treated humanely. Slavery abolitionists showed photos and sketches and published narratives to show slaves were treated harshly. Abortion providers tell patients that their preborn children are only cells or “potential life.” Abortion Abolitionists show photos of perfectly formed preborn children killed through abortion and the grotesque horror done to them.
Abolitionists were called dangerous religious fanatics and told to keep their moral and religious beliefs to themselves. Those fighting abortion today are portrayed by the liberal media as dangerous fanatics.
Every generation has its moral evil. Every generation has an abolitionist movement to oppose the evil.
Incrementalism vs. Immediatism: Who is right?
The most interesting comparison between slavery and abortion, however, is a current controversy within the sanctity of life movement itself. As it was 200 years ago, there are those within pro-life groups such as Americans United for Life and National Right to Life whose policy in the past 20 years has been to only advocate bills that are incremental in nature and to include rape and incest exceptions in hopes of avoiding a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade until the Supreme Court bench is “stacked” with conservative justices and it can be effectively overturned. Then there are those within the Personhood movement and the Abortion Abolitionist movement who advocate first recognizing that all human beings are Persons from conception with the right to life because they are created in the image of God.
Both sides of the debate agree that William Wilberforce is a model. There is no question that the abolition of slavery serves as a model for an effective model to end abortion. However, even though Clarke Forsythe wants to give Wilberforce the credit for being the moral center of the debate to abolish the slavery in the 19th century, he faults him for being a moral crusader who focused his efforts throughout his lifetime on being the president of “no less than 69 societies” dedicated to social reformation. In other words, Forsythe criticizes Wilberforce’s moral absolutism in treating many social issues, when he should have been a practical incrementalist centered on one issue – ending the slave trade.
At the height of Wilberforce’s efforts to abolish the slave trade, he published the first of only three books he wrote in his lifetime, A Practical View of Christianity. This took to task the false, dead Christianity of many within the Church of England and other denominations as not being true to a lifestyle renewed by faith in Jesus Christ. Wilberforce methodically covers a variety of topics that apply to everyday life. Far from being a preachy polemic against society’s ills, he takes the time to reason with the reader, leaving them with arguments, according to one reviewer, that are “intelligent and well reasoned, make perfect sense and cause the reader to wonder how it is that they hadn’t thought of it before.”
Wilberforce also understood that the moral atrocity of slavery was allowed to continue not due to the ungodliness of the slave holders, but due to the inaction of Christians. According to Wilberforce, the source of all of society’s ills was the Church failing to preach and practice authentic Christianity. Wilberforce understood that without the engine of revival in the Church, no reformation of society will ever take place.
In Politics for the Greatest God, Forsythe argues that Wiberforce’s wider focus on anything other than the slave trade was a “weakness” and a “personality trait that may have actually distracted him.” This attitude represents in a microcosm the error of the pro-life movement. While it is true that students of history bring their own filters and read their own experience to interpreting what motivated a great figure, it is much more likely than an evangelical Christian who has had a born-again experience can interpret the intents and purposes of a man who was impacted by the First Great Awakening. Thankfully, William Wilberforce was more than a lawyer working for an anti-slavery organization dedicated to using a natural law argument to convince the Parliament to incrementally do away with a human atrocity. He was a voice calling for repentance with the zeal of a Gospel preacher, while using a Divine eloquence and empathy toward his hearers.
Clarke Forsythe is a non-Catholic using Roman Catholic nomenclature regarding the “virtue of prudence.” As an advisor to the American Catholic bishops, he is largely responsible for the bishop’s opposition to Personhood in many states – even though the official position of the Vatican is for Personhood. Judie Brown, the president of American Life League, wrote the following rebuttal using a more Gospel-centered argument.
With all due respect to Forsythe and his colleagues, it is my fervent belief that the pro-life movement is at a critical crossroads. It is imperative for each of us, upon examining our own attitudes and praying for guidance, to choose God’s way and stay the course; regardless of the barbs, the public insults and the efforts to undo what we are putting together in the various states and at the federal level in our quest for human personhood.
We are not at war against legal positivists and secular humanists; we are engaged in a battle with evil. Forsythe concludes by saying, “There are other goals that are more important — and more achievable in the current environment — than an illusory test case to ‘challenge Roe’ based on questions that the current justices simply aren’t asking.”
Contrary to that view, I would argue that it is not wise for us to base our efforts on paying attention to the “questions that the current justices” are asking, but rather to make absolutely certain we are faithful to God in our public witness to the questions He will be asking when we face Him, as each of us surely will, at the judgment.
Judy Brown hits the nail on the head. Our strategy isn’t primarily legal or political, but spiritual. Indeed the goal of Personhood is often thought of as a legal strategy to challenge Roe. In reality, the leaders of Personhood believe that due to our petitioning and education efforts the culture will be so changed in time that Roe will be ignored, and the right to life will be recognized for all human beings, much the same way that Americans ignored the Dred Scott case that declared a black slave to be a non-citizen without the right to liberty. This can only occur as we change the culture.
Much in the same way that Wilberforce failed by bringing the same Slave Trade Act year after year, it was the debate in British Parliament spilling over into the popular culture that eventually changed public opinion in England. In the same way, debate over Personhood is bringing the debate over when life begins into the culture. So the number one goal of Personhood is education. We don’t educate by debating a woman’s right to privacy or whether abortion clinics should be safer for women. We put the focus squarely on the imago Dei, the biblical truth that all human beings are created image of God. We are endowed with the right to life from conception, not because Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution gives us this right, but because God himself declared it as a creation ordinance.
The reason Wilberforce prevailed is because he fought with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). Only the Gospel preached in power – as it was in Whitefield’s and Wesley’s day – can change the heart of our nation and restore our culture to Godliness. This is the reason why it has always been the church that is at the head of social reform movements that bring about greater morality in society.
The Present Crisis
Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.
– James Russell Lowell, “The Present Crisis”
When the “fireside poet,” James Russell Lowell, penned these words in the 19th century, the “present crisis” was the institution of slavery. If 21st century Christians are truly concerned about the present crisis confronting America, we must set about to restore our nation with the same evangelical zeal. This includes rescuing babies, but the strategy is to preach the whole truth of the Word of God.
The call to national repentance is what fueled the abolitionist movement. Practical steps in the forms of laws and amendments followed, first the spiritual temperature of the culture was intensified by the Gospel. The same was true of the Civil Rights movement over 150 years later when Martin Luther King outlined this call with great eloquence in his Letter From Birmingham Jail.
There was a time when the church was very powerful — in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators”’ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests.
Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent—and often even vocal—sanction of things as they are.
Lawyers and politicians are those who barter with money and power. The job of a lawyer is often to defend a position that he knows is not true. The work of a politician is often to compromise principle in order to gain a pragmatic foothold upon which to climb. The job of a Christian Reformer is to call the nation to repentance and to agitate the consciences of individuals in order to force them to confront a moral evil that they would otherwise deny.
In the time of Basil of Caesarea, the Christians had the majority in fifth century Rome, but abortion and infanticide was allowed to continue in the pagan backwater districts. The collagen of aborted infants was even used a cosmetic among Egyptian merchants and brought a high price. St. Basil used a program of agitation, education and political activism to bring an end to abortion and infanticide in the Roman Empire – and as a result abortion remained a criminal offense for over 1400 years in all parts of Europe.
It is a historical fact that social evils – abortion, infanticide, racial genocide and slavery – have been brought to an end when Christians have agitated, educated and lobbied for political change and legal relief. But the culture always changes first as it is leavened by the Gospel and then laws and politics follow.
Definitions: Amelioration, Incrementalism and Immediatism
There is a debate going on within the pro-life movement over the morality of incrementalist or immediatist efforts and which is the more effective strategy.
Abolitionists are often accused of advocating an “all or nothing” strategy. Therefore, it is thought that abolitionists do not seek to save lives any way they can even while calling for a total abolition of abortion. According to T. Russell Hunter, this is a strawman since abolitionists teach that 50 percent of their work ought to be assistive or “ameliorative” in nature. The “all or nothing” accusation is meant to deflect from the contradiction of stating that life begins at conception while advocating measures that allow for the killing of some preborn children and attacking those that are principled on the truth of the imago Dei.
Incrementalists are often accused of compromise if they phrase a step-by-step approach to eliminating abolition as a strategy. The reality is that some incremental tactics are moral if they don’t explicitly allow for some human beings to be killed while trying to end abortion. Other incrementalist strategies are compromised.
Unfortunately, the debate is often muddled because there is confusion is over the terms, amelioration, incrementalism and immediatism.
Amelioration is simply the act of making something better or an improvement to the human condition. Amelioration is not necessarily a compromise with evil. In the time of slavery, amelioration efforts were those that tried to ease the suffering of slaves while slavery was still legal. Likewise, we can work to make the conditions better in a society that condones abortion on demand. Crisis pregnancy centers and sidewalk counseling offer assistance to women seeking abortion. These attempts are ameliorative. In and of themselves, they can never end the abortion holocaust, but they are good attempts to make a pregnant woman’s situation better and in turn save some lives today.
Incrementalism is the strategy of working to abolish abortion little by little. It is what Wilberforce called gradual abolition. In terms of the fight against abortion, we use the term incrementalism to speak of restrictions on abortion or regulations on clinics. Incrementalism can be either compromised or moral.
Compromised incrementalism includes any law that identifies a class of human life we may kill while identifying a class of human life we may not kill. An example of this would include rape and incest exceptions. Compromised laws include those abortion clinic regulations that begin with the language, “A physician performing or inducing and abortion must …” In the end, compromised incrementalism undermines the sanctity of life argument by including exception for who we may murder.
In my opinion, this is a difficult area to discern whenever we consider implications over objective wording and explicit legal intent. For instance, a 20-week abortion ban does not explicitly state that 19 week-old preborn children may be killed. The law does not say, “Make sure the gestational age is under 20 weeks and then you can kill the baby.” To claim that the law says this is to use an argument from silence, which is a logical fallacy. The difficulty here is not the wording or the moral intent. The problem is that many of these measures are probably a waste of time in the effort to end abortion. That is, we will never end abortion by taking baby steps. One law advocates parental consent. Another law puts restrictions on partial birth abortion. Although some might consider these laws moral, we have to consider if they are effective. Do they simply reinforce the goal of “safe, legal and rare” abortion in the culture at large?
Moral incrementalism might include measures such as defunding Planned Parenthood or advocating bills that would recognize the Personhood of the preborn in cases not directly related to abortion. Moral incrementalism would also include a state-by-state approach in ending abortion.
Another factor to consider when determining if a bill is compromised or moral is the language itself. A parental notification law that would require minors to get parental permission before killing a preborn child is different than a law that require all minors to get parental consent before having any medical procedure in general with no exceptions. The effect of both of these laws is identical in intent. Both may have the effect of curbing some abortions. However, the difference in the second case is that we are not codifying with legal language a class of human beings that we may murder with impunity. The same principle can be applied to a law encouraging or requiring all pregnant women to undergo an ultrasound or a law requiring surgeons at all out-patient clinics to have hospital privileges. These laws can never end abortion, but they might morally ameloriate the problem by saving some lives.
Having said that, I am not naïve and realize that even within the Personhood and Abortion Abolitionist movements there is going to be disagreement over what is moral and what is compromised. Further, there will be even greater disagreement on what will be effective and what will be counter-productive. To discern the difference will often take the wisdom of Solomon.
Immediatism is the strategy of calling for the end to a moral atrocity – a crime that murders or diminishes the dignity of an image bearer of God. Immediatism may take various forms, but it is really just one strategy – which is the Church taking to the highways and byways a call to compel all people to repent and to come into the kingdom of God. In every generation, there is one sin or social evil that exemplifies mankind’s rebellion toward God and denies that we are made in the image of God. In our generation, the most prominent example of that is abortion.
It is a strawman argument to say that some pro-life advocates want “compromised incrementalism” merely because the measures they support cannot end all abortion. It is also a strawman argument to say that some Abortion Abolitionists are “absolutists” meaning that they want an all or nothing approach and will refuse to save some lives unless they can save them all.
It is hoped that the goals and efforts of the Abortion Abolitionist movement will be better understood by the incrementalists who oppose the idea of immediatism. Abolitionists use other tactics in the short term to save lives and call individuals to repentance. The goal is national repentance, but it begins with individuals. It is also hoped that Abolitionists will realize that many pro-life Christians are in sync with the theology and practice of Abortion Abolition and have been since the time of Basil of Caesarea, event though they may not choose to use the label “Abortion Abolitionist” or identify themselves with the growing numbers of Abortion Abolitionist Societies.
Never, never will we desist till we … extinguish every trace of this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, looking back to the history of these enlightened times will scarce believe that it has been suffered to exist so long a disgrace and dishonor to this country.
— William Wilberforce, The British Parliamentarian on describing his battle for the freedom of Africans from slavery
There is a battle among modern day sanctity of life advocates to claim the spirit of William Wilberforce. On one side, natural law incrementalists want to chip away at Roe v. Wade prior to engaging in a state-by-state campaign to regulate abortion and gradually abolish it. They see in Wilberforce a man of principle willing to bend within the political system to “prudent compromise” for the “greatest good.” On the other side, advocates of God’s moral law call for immediate repentance for the national sin of abortion. They see in Wilberforce a man who stated in no uncertain terms that the arguments in favor of the gradual abolition of slavery were “sophistry.”
Clarke Forsythe, M.A. in Bioethics from Trinity International University and Senior Counsel for Americans United for Life, has held forth the argument that Wilberforce was both a moral immediatist and a strategic incrementalist.
Although Wilberforce sponsored a motion for general and immediate abolition annually for several years, abolition came not immediately and totally, but intent and in effect, incrementally. The slave trade was incrementally reduced by regulations and partial prohibitions, and those incremental reductions were tied, in public debate, to issues of national interest rather than strong arguments of morality – “justice” and “humanity” – which were reserved until the final stroke. The incremental reductions served to eliminate the fears raised by the claims of the slave traders. Though Wilberforce and his allies had the strongest moral motivations, they exhibited strategic, tactical and rhetorical flexibility in their actions and arguments in large part because they stayed focused on the end result and did not confuse the goal with their motivations (Forsythe, Politics for the Greatest Good).
T. Russell Hunter, M.A. in History of Science from University of Oklahoma and founder of the Abolish Human Abortion movement, disagrees.
The kind of incrementalism that pro-lifers are trying to defend today, such as a fetal pain ban, is not the type of incrementalism that William Wilberforce was even close to advocating (Did William Wilberforce use incrementalism to abolish slavery? Video interview).
In July 2014, I spent a week in a timeshare in the French Quarter of New Orleans while attending Operation Save America’s (OSA) National Event. My roommates for the week were Abolish Human Abortion founders T. Russell Hunter and Toby Harmon. At least a dozen other leaders of Abortion Abolitionist Societies throughout America linked up with OSA for a week-long evangelistic outreach to the city of New Orleans. I had heard a lot about Toby and Russell and the growing AHA movement, so it was great to spend a week in a tiny apartment and driving around the city in Toby’s van getting to know them. This video interview was shot on an outreach to the University of Louisiana campus in Baton Rouge. Russell describes how his study of William Wilberforce as a Ph.D. candidate led him to become a full-time Abortion Abolitionist.
In Politics for the Greatest Good, Clarke Forsythe, who opposes Personhood amendments on the basis that they are not incremental, mentions several amelioration efforts that are not covered in our video. On further research, I found that Wilberforce did support three versions of “amelioration measures.” I asked T. Russell Hunter to respond to these as a follow-up interview.
1. Banning the slave trade in certain parts of Africa and to certain parts of the colonies. This appears to be an incremental measure. How would you answer that?
Hunter: It’s not the same thing as a pain capability act. It’s similar to state-by-state abolition or state-by-state Personhood amendments. And that would be immediatism today and yesterday. The American slavery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison thought a state-by-state approach could be done without compromise. I think it can be done with abolishing abortion.
2. Limiting the number of slaves that can be shipped. This was specifically introduced in the context of advocating for humane conditions on the slave ships. Were there other slave trade limitation/amelioration laws that were supported by Wilberforce?
Hunter: That was the measure that Equiano and others suggested that William Wilberforce support, and on which he capitulated, but was not huge on promoting. Wilberforce wasn’t perfect as I said in the video.
3. Amelioration bills for better conditions for slaves. Shouldn’t we want to treat human beings well regardless of whether they are slaves? It is not any more immoral to write a law saying you can’t mistreat a slave anymore than to write that you shouldn’t be able to mistreat a free person. Agree or disagree?
Hunter: Agreed. But there is no possible analogy to abortion there. One successful abortion cannot be done in a better condition than another. In every successful abortion, an image bearer of God is murdered.
In creating this video, my interest in Wilberforce was reignited. I wanted to write a longer article exploring the points made by T. Russell Hunter more in depth. What follows is the result of further research.
A Brief Biosketch: William Wilberforce
Born in 1759 in Yorkshire, England, Wilberforce began his political career in 1780 at age 21 as Member of Parliament for Kingston upon Hull. He eventually became the independent Member of Parliament for Yorkshire from 1784 to 1812. Then he served as MP for Bramber from 1812 to 1825.
Wilberforce was barely five feet tall and was sickly his whole life. Historian James Boswell, witnessing the young Wilberforce’s eloquent oratory in the House of Commons, described the young statesman, “I saw what seemed a mere shrimp mount upon the table; but as I listened, he grew, and grew, until the shrimp became a whale.”
In 1785, he underwent a conversion experience and became an evangelical Christian, which resulted in major changes to his lifestyle and a lifelong concern for reform.
In 1787, he came into contact with Thomas Clarkson and a group of anti-slave-trade activists, including Granville Sharp, Hannah More and Charles Middleton, who persuaded Wilberforce to take on the cause of abolition. He soon became one of the leading English abolitionists.
Wilberforce got his inspiration by luminaries of the Great Awakening, such as the world famous preacher George Whitefield and former slave trader and author of the hymn, “Amazing Grace,” John Newton. While many would describe Wilberforce as a Neo-Puritan Calvinist, Wilberforce was probably most influenced by John Wesley – at least in his practical Christian life – if not in his theology.
Wesley had spoken out forcefully against slavery for many years. In 1774, he had written the influential, Thoughts Upon Slavery. On February 24, 1791, at age 88, six days before his death, Wesley’s last letter was addressed to William Wilberforce.
The text of the letter is given below. The “tract” to which Wesley refers was written by a former slave, Gustavus Vassa, otherwise known as “Olaudah Equiano,” who was born in 1745 in Africa, kidnapped and sold as a slave in Barbados. In 1757, he was sent to England and was converted to Christianity.
Unless the divine power has raised you up to be as “Athanasius against the world,” I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that execrable villainy, which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God in the power of His might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.
Reading this morning a tract wrote by a poor African, I was particularly struck by the circumstance, that a man who has black skin, being wronged or outraged by a white man, can have no redress; it being a LAW in our Colonies that the OATH of a black man against a white goes for nothing. What villainy is this!
That He who has guided you from youth up may continue to strengthen you in this and all things is the prayer of, dear sir,
Your affectionate servant,
Right: William Wilberforce and John Wesley
Wilberforce was active throughout the 1790s in annual unsuccessful attempts to pass bills for the abolition of the slave trade. Debate continued for years, finally stalling amid the public’s fears of radical change that were exacerbated by the French Revolution.
It took until 1807 for the abolition of the slave trade to be effected throughout the British Empire.
Contrary to widely held misconception, only trading slaves became illegal at this time. In some cases, merely abolishing the slave trade led to greater abuses, such as illegally transporting slaves and then throwing them overboard when slave ships were boarded by British Navy. Slavery was not abolished in England until 1833 and took many decades enforce.
On July 26th, 1833, Wilberforce heard of the passing of the Bill for the Abolition of Slavery. The following day he grew much weaker, the result of a lengthy illness, and he died early on the morning of July 29th in London.
In America, the shortage of slaves encouraged the practice of slave breeding and separating slave families. American slavery continued until 1865 with the passage of 13th Amendment.
Was Wilberforce an incrementalist?
There is no question that the abolition of slave trade was a long and gradual process. Those wanting to end abortion often ask, “Does this mean Wilberforce was an anti-slavery incrementalist rather than an abolitionist? Could it be that he was both?” To answer this question, we have to look at Wilberforce’s strategy during three separate periods.
First, Wilberforce supported the Dolben Act in 1788 on the advice of Olaudah Equiano, who had written a narrative chronicling the abuses he suffered as an African slave. The Dolben Act tackled the inhumane conditions on slave ships. The advocates of this bill did not argue that the number of slave ships or slaves should be lessened – but they were concerned with the fact that huge numbers of slaves were dying on the “Middle Passage” from Africa to the West Indies.
The Dolben Act cut the number of slaves that a ship could carry based on the ship’s tonnage by about 40 percent. However, many abolitionists feared that the Act would not establish the idea that slavery was immoral, but only needed to be regulated. Although Wilberforce lent his support to the Bill, it was debated and passed by peripheral abolitionists in Parliament during his absence due to a serious illness.
Second, Wilberforce annually advanced bills from 1791 to 1799 for the total and immediate abolition of the slave trade. His opposition, led by Lord Henry Dundace, appeared to compromise by inserting the word “gradual” into the proposal in 1792. However, Wilberforce and the other abolitionists in Parliament soon realized that the “gradualist” timeline was used as a ruse to block attempts to abolish the slave trade immediately. Still Wilberforce continued to advance Slave Trade abolition bills each year. Even though his bills were not passed, they gained support coming as close as four votes in 1796.
By the mid-1790s, the bloody French Revolution had run its course across the English Channel. The specter of the atrocities and wars committed in nearby Europe were used by slavery advocates to paint abolitionists as dangerous radicals. The motto of the French Revolutionaries was “Liberty, Fraternity, Equality.” To many Englishmen, the abolitionists were too much like the lawless fanatics who had cut off the head of a king and performed systematic executions during the “Reign of Terror.” They imagined that freed slaves would lead a similar rebellion in the colonies.
Third, the abolitionist movement was revived in 1804 gaining popular support. Seizing on this new momentum, Wilberforce wrote A Letter on the Abolition of the Slave Trade in the months prior to the Slave Trade Act of 1807. This treatise contains a direct answer to the question of whether Wilberforce advocated gradual means to end the slave trade.
Wilberforce entitled a chapter in his book, Immediate abolition preferable to gradual, both in the West Indies and in Africa.
It is a historical fact that Wilberforce himself wrote that gradualist efforts were in opposition to his immediatist efforts. Although he compromised on points early on, he later wrote that proponents for gradualism proposed the compromise only to delay and resist his measures.
But this kind of half measure, however unintentionally, exactly answered the purpose of our enemies …
Wilberforce explained that some did this to merely assuage their consciences and in time self-deception allowed them to
… feel the complacencies arising from an act of justice and humanity, without paying the price or making the sacrifice which those principles required.
He also graciously wrote that he believed that some of the gradual Abolitionists were sincere.
Yet I cannot believe, that, could they have clearly foreseen what would be the practical effect of their opposition, it would not have been continued for an hour. Let them now, however, remember the grounds and principles on which they resisted our measure; that they themselves only stated the question to be only between two different modes of abolishing the Slave Trade.
How amazing it is that much the same argument is used today by opponents of Personhood who claim that the timing is wrong for such measures! The incrementalists of today say William Wilberforce was both an immediatist and an incrementalist. They admire his supposed “incrementalist” strategy, but want nothing do with his yearly bills for immediate abolition! Like Wilberforce’s gradualist opponents, they will vigorously oppose measures, such as the Personhood Amendments, that call for an immediate recognition of the right to life of all human beings.
What is even more amazing is that in April 1791, when Wilberforce introduced the first Parliamentary Bill to totally and immediately abolish the slave trade, it was easily defeated by 163 votes to 88. Yet Wilberforce continued to move bills throughout his career until on February 23, 1807, the Slave Trade Act was carried by 283 votes to 16.
We can expect to see much the same turning of the tide in the effort to defend human life if we will only remain faithful and settle for nothing less than a total recognition of the Personhood of all human beings without exception or apology.
The Constitution upholds God’s Law concerning the right to life. This was the understanding of the Framers. They heard the words of the Declaration still ringing in their ears, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Today we have civil judges and representatives who think the Constitution can be interpreted in a vacuum without the understanding that our rights are a gift from God. In fact, human “rights” are meaningless until you understand the dignity of the human Person based on the idea that we are each image bearers of God.
Jesus Christ entered the world as a zygote as fully human and fully God. He took on the form of a man made in the image of God even though He was from the beginning co-equal, co-eternal and one in substance with God. Human beings take on this same image of God when the union of two gametes results in a zygote that immediately begins to divide and multiply. This is both the image of Christ and the image of the Bride of Christ, the Church. It is the image of marriage and the mystery of Christ in us. The image of conception also reflects the Dominion Mandate — to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). The explosive growth of the embryo and then fetus is the image of the Great Commission given to the Church — to fill the earth with the Good News of Christ and subdue all of life under God’s sovereignty (Matthew 28:18-20).
Likewise, the reason homosexual marriage is wrong is not because it is unconstitutional, but because it violates a creation ordinance. God created man and woman in His image to be a reflection of Christ and the Church. This reflects our relationship to God in salvation. The union of a man and a woman demonstrates the purpose of God that through pro-creation the planet could be filled and subdued to reflect God’s glory. That is what marriage is. It’s a reflection of our Personhood in the image of God.
Homosexual unions don’t bear that image. They bear only the mark of man’s rebellion toward God. This is not the mark of Christ, but the mark of antichrist. No judge’s perverse, vacuous interpretation of the 14th amendment can overturn a creation ordinance or turn rebellion into freedom.
Sadly, even many Christians believe this battle is over and we have lost both on the life and marriage front. Nothing could be further from the truth. God’s ordinances are eternal and nations who rebel against God’s laws are always judged. Equilibrium must always return because these laws are hard-wired into nature itself. Trying to ascend above these laws is a futile waste of time and effort.
Suppose we think of a man made of water in an infinitely extended and bottomless ocean of water. Desiring to get out of water, he makes a ladder of water. He sets this ladder upon the water and against the water and then attempts to climb out of the water. So hopeless and senseless a picture must be drawn of the natural man’s methodology based as it is upon the assumption that time or chance is ultimate. On his assumption his own rationality is a product of chance. On his assumption even the laws of logic which he employs are products of chance. The rationality and purpose that he may be searching for are still bound to be products of chance. — Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith (P&R, 1972), p. 102.
Equilibrium must always return. The only foundation for human reason is the destiny and purpose authored in our beings by an eternal God. This is the imago Dei — the image of God in us. Even the idea of “rights” based on purely on human reason is nonsense. The founder’s understood this and rightly appealed to “God,” our “Creator,” “the Supreme Judge” and “Divine Providence” as the source of human dignity and civil rights. This is necessary, since asserting human rights above God’s Law, like a “ladder of water,” must always return to equilibrium. However, to win this battle in the short term, we must do two things.
- Be biblical presuppositionalists — that is, not afraid to reason using the plain meaning of the God’s Law and Truth, which is eternal.
- Be resolute and persistent enough to challenge the false reasoning of judicial tyranny through to the end in order to expose it for how nonsensical and diabolical it really is.
We have fallen this far because Christians have cooperated in attempting to build “ladders of water.” We have been inconsistent on our stand for Law and Truth. We have been afraid to venture boldly into the civil debate and point out the foolishness of man’s rebellion against God.
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (www.forerunner.com) – I was in New Orleans for a week in July with Operation Save America (OSA). It was a fitting follow-up to the OSA Regional event held in Kissimmee, Florida in June. In both cities, Planned Parenthood is plotting to open giant abortion mega-centers. In both cities, their attempts have been thwarted by community resistance.
Memorial Service for Baby Amos at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. (Click on all images to enlarge.)
In June, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law a regulatory statue that, if enforced, will make it difficult for the remaining abortion clinics in Louisiana to stay open.
That being said, no law will ever shut down the last abortion clinic in America. Even after abortion becomes illegal and criminalized, the seed of the woman will be at enmity with the seed of the serpent. We are not fighting abortion as much as tearing down the strongholds that allow the war against God’s precious seed to continue.
Strategy vs. Logistics
There is a saying sometimes used by the military, “Amateurs talk strategy. Professionals talk logistics.”
Strategy is a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time.
Logistics is the branch of military science and operations dealing with the procurement, supply, and maintenance of equipment, with the movement, evacuation, and hospitalization of personnel, with the provision of facilities and services, and with related matters (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary).
In other words, amateurs talk about complicated strategies. Professionals know to keep it simple. Once you know what you are doing strategy-wise, logistics are all that matter. The strategy takes care of itself. Logistics are wise decisions that help the strategy to work and move forward.
If one abortion center closes or even has difficulty turning a profit, then that is a victory. It’s not a strategy for eliminating abortion, but simply a logistical part of a longer war to end abortion.
For example, a court recently ordered that Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando (PPGO) cannot perform surgical abortion at their Kissimmee site. According to PPGO CEO Jenna Tosh in a supplemental affadavit, this will hurt them because they already “sunk” $2 million and over two years of planning into this center. I rejoice over that because I know that is going to cost PPGO lots of money – potentially millions of dollars – the longer they try to fight on this front.
Will this end abortion in Central Florida? Not likely.
Will this court ruling save lives? Almost definitely.
We are already hearing encouraging personal testimonies to that effect. Some have hit close to home. This victory has come because hundreds of Christians in Kissimmee have risen up against abortion. The lawsuit of several doctors against Planned Parenthood and the court order was a result of that larger effort. But we realize that now we have to fight harder than ever.
God’s Strategy: The Church
An abortion giant in Kissimmee, Florida may be staggering a bit, he may be on his knees, but we won’t rest until we have cut off his head and defeated every giant in the land. It is no coincidence that in 2 Samuel 17:40, David picked up five smooth stones. Apparently, Goliath was one of a family of giants. We know from 2 Samuel 21:16-22, especially the last verse, that there were at least four other Philistine giants. Goliath had four brother giants in the land who were later killed by David and his mighty men. David employed good logistics – even if he did not need more than one stone that day. His strategy was simple, to run to the battle to meet Goliath (1 Samuel 17:48).
This one abortion mill in Kissimmee has about 600 brother giants throughout America. That might seem overwhelming, but 20 years ago, there were over 2000 abortion mills in America. Now most of those have closed. What is encouraging is that most of this was accomplished during the Clinton administration without changing a single enforceable anti-abortion law. In 2014, we are still seeing more and more of these giants fall each year.
My former pastor, Keith Tucci, when he was the director of Operation Rescue National, used to say, “God has one plan for ending abortion, the Church. And their ain’t no plan B!”
The strategy for ending abortion is simple. The Church must run to the battle. We must show up at the gates of hell. Logistically, we can begin by equipping the church to be the modern day “giant slayer” that God has called her to be. In short, as we transform the culture around us from death to life, giants will be slain. Abortion mills will continue to close, then court rulings and laws will follow.
Operation Save America’s goal is to encourage, equip and train the local church in the battle against abortion. The following contains reports by Rusty Thomas from each day, along with my video logs and some photos with captions.
The OSA National Event kicked off with a rally at a church on Saturday evening. Local pastor Bill Shanks presented Flip Benham and Rusty Thomas (left to right) with the mayor’s key to the city. Although this is a routine ceremonial observance given to any non-profit group visiting the city that requests one, it was humorous to see the ensuing hysteria of the pro-abortion media. There was even a segment on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, which characterized the peaceful week of evangelistic activity as “terroristic” and falsely accused Flip of being a “convicted felon.”
The Macedonian Call, Sunday, July 20
By Rusty Thomas
Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them (Acts 16:6-10).
Sunday marked Operation Save America’s second official day in New Orleans, Louisiana. Local churches invited OSA to minister in New Orleans and the surrounding areas. To have their invitation, covering and blessing, is a great boost to the Lord’s work against the gates of hell.
Once in a host city, OSA extends a “Macedonian Call” to other area churches. Representatives from OSA attended close to 40 church services throughout the city. They worshiped with the churches, greeted the pastors and church leadership, invited them to lunch, passed out materials that articulated the vision, and invited these congregations to our Solemn Assembly Sunday evening. Later, they gather the church contact information and give it to the local pastoral leaders to follow up after OSA has completed their mission in their city.
At the Unitarian Universalist “church” in New Orleans, other team members took a different tack in presenting the truth of the Gospel in this synagogue of Satan. As God would have it, the “church” was filled with students from a “social justice” training school. The team presented a dynamic witness.
During an open “meditation” time, one woman in our group shared the Word of the Lord. When the Reverend Deanna Vandiver took issue, she reminded her that, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:2). In violation of their “sacred tenants” of peace and tolerance, several were summarily escorted out of the service.
Other saints stayed and dialoged until the conclusion of the service. It created no small stir. The “social justice” candidates ran to the Christians and asked them many questions. Our brethren gave them the reason for the hope that lies within them and defended the faith. Seeds of truth were sown. May the Lord water them in Jesus’ name.
Abortion Abolitionists T. Russell Hunter and Matt Ferro talked to group of students attending a Unitarian Universalist service. Earlier in the year, this “synagogue of Satan” hosted a ground breaking ceremony in the sanctuary of their building for the abortion mega-center Planned Parenthood. Although we remained after the service for peaceful dialog, one of the men attending the service got physical with Russell and tried to push him away from his discussion with these students.
There had been an unplanned verbal disruption earlier in the service by several of our team members. Although this “disruption” incident was exaggerated by the liberal press, Abolish Human Abortion founder, T. Russell Hunter, made this video (above) of the actual church service with commentary on what really happened. For a time, the video was posted on YouTube, but some who did not want the unvarnished truth to be seen, complained and had the video removed.
Closed Abortion Mill Tour, Monday, July 21
You’ve heard of “Ghost Tours” and “Voodoo Tours” in the New Orleans French Quarter? Pastor Bill Shanks gave a tour of the closed abortion mills in downtown New Orleans. There used to be ten abortion centers in New Orleans. Now there is one near downtown New Orleans and one in Metarie. Pastor Bill explained why so many close when the church simply shows up at the gates of hell.
Bill Shanks taught on the history of New Orleans closed abortion centers. This is the outside of a former church building on Saint Charles Street, which was turned into a baby killing center and is now closed!
In the evening service, the Johnston family ministered to us in song.
Memorial to Baby Amos, Tuesday, July 22
Memorial for the Preborn Child Amos at St Louis Cathedral near Jackson Square.
The flag was lowered to half mast for the preborn as Flip Benham preached the Gospel of Life!
Tuesday marked OSA’s funeral procession and memorial service in honor of Amos, a victim of abortion. Amos means “to carry” and “borne by God,” a fitting name for a precious unborn child carried in his mother’s womb. Sadly, Amos’ mother chose to end his life. He was then borne by God to eternity. Today, Amos was carried somewhere he probably wouldn’t have chosen- his own memorial service.
As bagpipes played a dirge and young people marched with flags reading “Justice for the Unborn,” pallbearers carried Amos through the French Quarter. A hundred or more mourners followed in silence. The funeral procession began in Jackson Square, a historic park in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana, and ended in front of the St. Louis Cathedral, the “Jewel of the French Quarter.”
Mourners gathered on the steps across from the cathedral, one of the oldest in the United States. A simple white casket lay on a table, surrounded by flags and mourners. In the background, a tall American flag waved from the grounds of the cathedral.
When the memorial service blasted over the sound system, bystanders stopped to take in the scene. Rev. Flip Benham, National Director of OSA, addressed the gathering. He was followed by Beck Puckett who shared from Amos 1:13, “Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge the their border.”
Becky compared America’s sin of abortion to Ammon’s sin of abortion/population control. Shelly Clegg shared her moving post-abortion testimony. And spoke on the need to protect and cherish all human life – preborn and those born with special needs. Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life gave the eulogy. His message was, “Blessed are those who mourn, they shall be comforted.” He explained the importance of honoring the memory of the victims of abortion and reminded the city that God made life in His image. For this reason, human life is sacred. Even in death, victims of abortion must be remembered. Their care, even in death, must not be forgotten.
At the conclusion of the service, mourners were invited to come forward and view the body. As the crowd approached, a song cut through the bustling noise of the city. The refrain was, “God have mercy.” Over and over, the city heard, “God have mercy. God have mercy.” The spirit of God fell. His presence came in power. The young people in OSA were particularly touched. It was as if God lifted the veil of deception and ushered the youth into a private viewing of abortion. Tears streamed down their faces. A spirit of brokenness and repentance overwhelmed them. The face of each young person registered the horror and grief that is abortion.
One of the nicknames for New Orleans is “the City that Care Forgot.” That nickname proved untrue today. Care came wrapped in the body of Christ. Care was heard in the message of the Gospel. Care was seen in the love of the person who gave out Gospel tracts. And as person after person approached the casket, person after person cared for Amos and the little lives of unborn babies.
As “the City that Care Forgot” felt the care of the Lord, an unseen, unnamed person slowly lowered the flag at St. Louis Cathedral’s to half-staff. In a public display of mourning, New Orleans grieved her sin. For just a moment, “the City that Care Forgot,” remembered.
Here is the full Memorial Service to Baby Amos.
In the evening service, Rusty Thomas shared on the history of Operation Save America. This short clip is about what happened during the “Tragic Kingdom” outreach in Orlando, Florida in 1997.
Taking Territory, Wednesday, July 23
Women’s Healthcare Center in New Orleans pretended to remain open. Clinic escorts ushered in abortion supporters as though they were “patients” scheduled for appointments. OSA’s sharp-eyed children pointed out that after a few moments of being inside the clinic, the “patients” would leave the building dressed in pink clinic escort vests, holding blue signs. The “patients” then lined the sidewalk. The pro-abortion mantra should have been, “This revolving door stays open.” Although Women’s Healthcare Center’s door stayed open, no pregnant women walked through it. As far as we know, baby murder was arrested and stopped the week Christians ministered the Gospel of the Kingdom at the gates of hell.
This is the last abortion clinic left in the city of New Orleans. Just a few years ago there were ten death mills in the metro area. Further, a state law Gov. Bobby Jindal signed last month, requiring abortionists to have active admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, could eliminate several clinics that provide abortions in the state. The requirement could lead to the closure of abortion clinics in New Orleans, Metairie and Baton Rouge. Only two others, in Shreveport and Bossier City, likely would not be impacted.
In the afternoon, we went on to City Hall. This was one of the numerous Awareness Campaigns to expose the abortion holocaust held around the city of New Orleans during OSA’s National Event. Tom Raddell of Cleveland Ohio set up his powerful, professional display of graphic panels. The 20-foot tall by 8-foot wide displays consisted of pictures of human atrocities and genocide, presented along side of pictures of aborted babies. Each panel connected abortion, America’s modern Holocaust, to historical evils.
Passing the Mantle, Thursday, July 24th
Christians also visited the Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge on Thursday. The clinic kills on two days a week, Tuesday and Thursdays. When clinic staff heard OSA was considering a Tuesday ministry outreach, the clinic shut down. When OSA members showed up on Thursday instead, they found the clinic shut down that day too. For the whole week, Christians witnessed the Gospel and stood for life. Baton Rouge was a safer place for preborn children.
Evangelism at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge
At Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, OSA members from California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Virginia, and Florida joined with evangelist Jason Storm and T. Russell Hunter of Abolish Human Abortion. The outreach consisted mostly of young adults, teenagers, and children. The young people of OSA were blessed to observe Jason and Russell evangelize.
The young people were engaged and passionate about leading the lost to Christ. The Holy Spirit was with the children as they shared the Good News and held signs revealing the ugliness and sin of abortion. They were not ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16).
Pastor Keith Tucci gave a brief message prior to installing Rusty Thomas as the new director of OSA.
Finally, Thursday night’s rally brought a transition to OSA. Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas, assistant to the director, was set in as National Director of Operation Rescue/ Operation Save America. Rev. Flip Benham (National Director since 1994) and Pastor Keith Tucci (National Director before Flip and right after founder, Randall Terry) laid hands on Rusty and passed the mantle of leadership to him.
After the mantle was passed, faithful Christian men surrounded Rusty and prayed over him, as Curtis blew the ram’s horn. At the conclusion of the setting in, Rusty’s challenge to the brethren was, “You have bled with Keith. You have bled with Flip. Now bleed with me.” Jesus gave His life for us. Are we willing to suffer for Him?
Honoring Flip Benham, Friday, July 25th
OSA went to the proposed construction site of Planned Parenthood. The team practiced “Word in Warfare,” the concentrated focused reading of the Bible as a form of prophetic prayer and confession. As Christians surrounded the site in prayer and worship, others grouped together in small numbers to read the Word aloud. Others held posters of aborted babies and waved at passing cars.
During the “Word in Warfare,” senior citizens sat on lawn chairs under umbrellas, their precious Bibles in their laps. Little children sat on the grass and toddlers reclined in strollers as mothers and fathers read the Bible out loud as a family. Young people gathered quietly in groups and took turns reading the designated chapters.
OSA Connecticut team member, Marilyn Carroll, reads from the book of Revelation on the last day of Word and Warfare. The entire Bible was read on the site as a witness against the proposed Planned Parenthood abortion mega-center.
The abortion mega-center in New Orleans has millions in funds – including federal funds from taxpayers – but it might never open!
The following is from Pastor Bill Shanks:
I informed workers at the abortion mill construction site that Planned Parenthood had to kill babies in order to pay them and that they were accessories to the murder of the children that would be killed in that place. They heard the Word! These workers said they did not want to work here any longer. I had the privilege of praying with them and for them that God would give them the courage to do His will.
The electrical engineer for the Planned Parenthood project had already been prompted by God to quit after Brother Dale and I visited his home. He said he knew it was wrong. We prayed for him and his family. The three cement companies in New Orleans also won’t sell Planned Parenthood any cement for the project. Glory!
Simple little Christians living out their faith in the streets of New Orleans who are saying, “No!” to the devil, and “Yes!” to Almighty God!” These are small victories that are leading to an ever greater triumph that will bring these gates of hell crashing to the ground.
The last evening rally was a tribute to Reverend Flip Benham, outgoing National Director of Operation Rescue/Operation Save America. Rev. Flip had served as National Director since 1994, having received his commission from Pastor Keith Tucci (National Director before Flip and after founder, Randall Terry).
Flip is known for his uncompromising stand on the issues and his leading Norma McCorvey to the Lord. After worship, a plaque was presented to Rev. Flip commending him for his tireless efforts on behalf of the Lord’s preborn children. A slide show and video tribute by Flip’s family was played on a large overhead screen. OSA children and young people then invited Flip and his wife, Faye to the stage. The young people took turns praying over the couple. Allysa compiled a scrap book of gratitude and the children presented it to Rev. Flip while on stage. At the end of the night, a large cake with the OSA logo was devoured by hungry and grateful members.
OSA will be forever indebted to Rev. Flip for his uncompromising and unwavering commitment to end child killing. We love you Rev. Flip. Thank you for making the theology of the churches, biography on the streets.
KISSIMMEE, Florida (www.forerunner.com) – Sanctity of human life advocates were joyful to hear the news last week that a circuit judge had granted a temporary injunction to prohibit all surgical abortions and diagnostic testing at 610 Oak Commons, the site of a brand new $2 million Planned Parenthood center.
This week, Jenna Tosh and Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando (PPGO) filed for a counter-injunction to keep their abortion mega center in business.
In a supplemental affidavit, PPGO CEO Jenna Tosh has cited “irreparable harm” to their business reputation “as well as to the reputation of other Planned Parenthood affiliates generally.”
June 14, 2014 – Retired police officer, Chet Gallagher with Dr. Helen, a plastic surgeon who works at the hospital across the street, joined in opposing and exposing Planned Parenthood’s murderous plot to infest Kissimmee, Florida with their culture of death.
The Kissimmee Abortion Mega-Center Timeline
As early as 2012 and 2013, two Florida State House Democrats, Senator Darren Soto and Representative Ricardo Rangel, invited Planned Parenthood to come to Osceola County.
Senator Darren Soto and Representative Ricardo Rangel betray Osceola County to the abortion giant, Planned Parenthood.
On December 20, 2012, Senator Soto praised PPGO for their school programs.
On November 1, 2013, Senator Soto again praised PPGO for their sex education in his wife’s classroom in Orange County and sad he would like to see it in Osceola County. Soto said he hopes to get Osceola County teen pregnancy rate down too. (Both Orange County and Osceola County’s teen birth rates are equivalently down the same percentage since 2006 despite PPGO’s absence in Osceola.)
Planned Parenthood external affairs director, Anna Eskamani, stated that although the state law requires abstinence education, states students are instructed that they can text their sexual questions and get real time responses from one of Planned Parenthood’s sexperts.
Rep. Rangel said he toured Planned Parenthood, saying, “It was a great tour,” and knew that Planned Parenthood was planning on “doing something like that here in Osceola County.”
The shocking part is how warm and friendly these two Roman Catholic representatives are to having an abortion center representative at their meeting. They even commended Planned Parenthood’s sex education programs in Orange County schools and spoke of their entry in Osceola schools as though it were a done deal.
I first got wind of a proposed Planned Parenthood mega-center by hearing Florida Right to Life’s executive director, Rachel Burgin talk about PPGO’s plans to expand into Osceola and Brevard counties.
“Planned Parenthood is recruiting young girls into their abortion business with money — your money,” Burgin said.
She mentioned that federal grant money would also enable PPGO to expand into Osceola and Brevard counties.
In August, I was given the address of a proposed center near a future SunRail station at 231 Ruby Avenue in downtown Kissimmee.
In September, I was told by a realtor that the building was off the market and in the closing process. They would not give me the name of the buyer. Several months later, there was still no movement and as of this date, the building has not closed.
In November of 2013, Florida Hospital and the Orthopaedic Associates of Osceola, led by Michael Karr and Marcus Kornberg conspired to remove a deed restriction on “pregnancy terminations” at a former OB-GYN clinic at 610 Oak Commons. This was done to pave the way to open the building for use for an abortion center run by Planned Parenthood.
City zoning also wrote a letter to Planned Parenthood saying that the building was zoned for a medical office, but did not specifically reference a surgical center. We later discovered that no surgical center exists in Kissimmee under this specific zoning code. It is important to not here that Tosh specifically inquired whether an “outpatient surgical center” would be permitted in this zoning district.
In December 2013, $310,000 was paid as a down payment for the Kissimmee mega-center in the Oak Commons medical park. The rest of the $1,090,000 million is mortgaged. Additional improvements were made to the $1.4 million building to bring the grand total to $2 million according to PPGO.
According to Tosh’s affidavit, PPGO spent ten months in 2013 finding the current site for the abortion mega center. In doing so, they were also aware of two Declarations of Covenants with Osceola Regional Medical Center (ORMC) directly across the street that prohibit surgical centers and all diagnostic testing in Oak Commons.
The Tallahassee Connection
In January, 2014, I worked with Noles for Life (the FSU Students for Life “Seminoles” group) and Tallahassee Abortion Abolitionist, Matt Ferro, in exposing Jacksonville abortionist, Todd Rasner. This OB-GYN practitioner had been traveling to Tallahassee twice a month to perform abortions. Evidently, he did not perform abortions at any of the Jacksonville abortion centers or in his office on a regular basis. We used this knowledge as an opportunity to expose his practice of child killing to his pro-life patients during an Awareness Campaign at several sites in Jacksonville.
Matt Ferro then had the opportunity to dialog with Rasner for over an hour in his office in Jacksonville. Rasner explained he would be quitting doing abortions in Tallahassee center. He assured us it had nothing to do with our presence there, but had been a long time coming. He claimed that he was in Tallahassee only to help the abortion center through a transition because they had had some “problems.”
The owner-to-be of the North Florida Women’s Services Center was Stephen Wiley Duncan, an abortionist who was indicted on nine felony counts of drug prescription fraud in 2009. Duncan ran an illegal chain of pill mills throughout the Florida panhandle. According to legal documents, Duncan prescribed weight loss drugs to patients over the phone without consultation. After he was enjoined by law to close these mills, he decided to take over the North Florida Women’s Health Center and change the name to North Florida Women’s Services Center. While Duncan is on active probation status, Rasner is serving as the medical director of the new abortion center on paper, although he lives in Jacksonville and the abortion center is not required to have a medical director by Florida law since it is a first trimester only abortion clinic.
The Kissimmee Timeline Continued …
In March, the abortion center in Tallahassee announced it was closing, but we found out a few days later it was simply changing hands. I wrote to the Agency of Health Care Administration to obtain a copy of the new license. While doing so I asked for any abortion clinic applications in process for Osceola. I was sent an application from PPGO listing 610 Oak Commons in Kissimmee as the location. The application was received by the Agency for Health Care Administration on February 7th, 2014.
I then found that PPGO had bought an 8,800 square foot building. This was confirmed by a property deed and mortgage filed in the Osceola clerk’s office under the name of Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando.
This made no sense on a number of levels.
First, the center is directly across the street from a major hospital, ORMC. The presence of abortion opponents and pro-life evangelists who often preach, chant, sing and hold signs along Oak Street would certainly not enhance the reputation of Planned parenthood in the medical park where it had setup its “chop shop.”
Second, the business that sold the property to Planned Parenthood was the Orthopedic Association of Osceola (OAO), under the corporation called K&K Land Holdings-Kissimmee Inc. It simply makes no sense that OAO would want their patients to be subject to the daily spectacle of pro-life activism. Nor does it make sense that they run the risk of losing the business of their pro-life patients when they discover that they helped to bring the largest abortion provider in America into Kissimmee.
I immediately seized on this second non-sequitur my first volley against PPGO. We created a Facebook page called Stop Planned Parenthood of Kissimmee, which exposed OAO’s complicity in creating a blight on our largely conservative Roman Catholic and evangelical Christian community. I thought it ironic that an organization with the initials “KKK” would sell an abortion center to Planned Parenthood, the greatest oppressors of minorities in America. The Tampa Avenue Planned Parenthood center in Orlando is located in the heart of the African American community. This new center is in an area that is at least 80 percent Hispanic and black minorities of various nationalities.
Third, PPGO ran into a vociferous and organized group of pro-life activists who have been well-organized through a group of Catholic medical doctors – some of whom have businesses in Oak Commons. None of these medical offices are allowed to perform surgery or diagnostic procedures due to a covenant with ORMC.
Within two weeks an organized resistance of hundreds of prominent Osceola and Orange County pro-life leaders emerged to stop Planned Parenthood. A group of 70 physicians signed An Open Letter to the Citizens of Osceola County which appeared as a full-page ad on page two of the Osceola News Gazette to encourage Kissimmee, Florida, citizens to join them in attempting to stop Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando from opening an abortion mill in their community.
In April and May, hundreds of pro-lifers filled the Kissimmee City Commission meetings. On one occasion the public comments went on for over two hours. On the second occasion, Dr. John Littell gave an impassioned one-hour presentation on the numerous organizations in Osceola that offer alternatives to abortion and implored the city to enforce zoning laws or the deed restrictions.
“There is no service offered by Planned Parenthood, other than abortion, that is not offered at a lower price or for free elsewhere in Kissimmee,” Dr. Littell frequently stated.
Drs. Littell, Jose Fernandez and John Hartman filed a petition with the city to enforce the zoning code. The only city commissioner who tried to investigate the zoning and deed restrictions was Wanda Rentas, who met with Jenna Tosh and later moved to look into the zoning issue. No other City Commissioner seconded her motion.
During the public comments Mayor Jim Swan and City Attorney Don Smallwood made frequent reference to the fact that they could not risk a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood.
During this time, Robert Krieger, the CEO of ORMC, met personally with Jenna Tosh. She claimed during the meeting that they would not be doing any surgery in violation of the covenant. Despite the fact that abortion is Level II surgery, Krieger did nothing to preclude PPGO from doing abortions at its center.
The Kissimmee abortion center did a ceremonial opening with leftist congressman Alan Grayson doing a “ribbon cutting” in May. Over 200 pro-life activists showed up in opposition and the media day was overshadowed by the overwhelming opposition to abortion by the community.
At the Stop Planned Parenthood of Kissimmee Facebook page, we began promoting various events, including a large regional event held by Operation Save America (OSA) in early June. We had about 40 out-of-town missionaries to the preborn spend four days in Kissimmee with an equal number of local activists joining us at Planned Parenthood site. We also held Awareness Campaigns in the neighborhood streets of the OAO group members who sold the property to Planned Parenthood.
I personally invited OSA to Kissimmee, because over the past 21 years I have observed that OSA’s national and regional events often serve as a “spiritual catalyst” to set the providence of God in motion to end abortion in cities where these events are held.
“We don’t take credit for it, but we have found that when we mobilize the local church to simply show up at the gates of hell, God answers our prayers,” said OSA director Flip Benham.
During the week the OSA was in town, a partnership of doctors, MMB Properties, represented by Dr. Johnston Massey, filed a lawsuit against PPGO seeking a temporary and permanent injection.
On June 30, 2014, PPGO’s license for a first trimester abortion clinic was approved.
The Kissimmee abortion mega center then opened on Thursday, July 10, 2014.
Two weeks later a temporary injunction was granted.
In furtherance of these intentions, PLANNED inquired of the local zoning authority whether zoning was proper for both a medical clinic and outpatient surgical services. In fact, the application specifically states that PLANNED intends to operate an “Out Patient Surgical Center,” which is the identical language used prohibitively in the Declarations.
It appears that Jenna Tosh has sunk herself. Although the national news media has not covered this important story, many pro-life websites, such as Live Action, took notice that the injunction itself along with Jenna Tosh’s affidavit expose many of Planned Parenthood’s lies.
In what appears to be an erroneous report, media have stated that the [covenant] restrictions in place block Planned Parenthood from performing mammograms. Planned Parenthood does not perform mammograms. The procedure is not in their financial interest. Abortion is. But that has not stopped their president from lying, saying that they do, in fact, perform them.
On July 28th, 2014, a counter injunction was filed along with affidavits from PPGO officers, employees and contractors.
How Fungible Federal Grants Benefit Planned Parenthood
Since all money raised by a non-profit organization is fungible. It is possible with creative accounting to leverage funds toward other purposes. Although Planned Parenthood cannot pay for abortions directly with tax money, it has been argued that they subsidize abortion by funneling this money into the broad category of “education.”
In 2011, for instance, PPGO spent exactly $1 million on “education” according to their 990 forms. These funds then enable PPGO to offer surgical abortion, which provided 37 percent of their income ($1.4 million of $3.8 million) in 2011. Tosh even explains how this is done in her affidavit by explaining what will happen if PPGO is not able to operate as an abortion center in Kissimmee:
If PLANNED PARENTHOOD’s Kissimmee health center is unable to offer surgical abortion or do ultrasounds (which will necessarily preclude us from providing other services as well), then PLANNED PARENTHOOD will lose quite a significant amount of revenue. Although the particular services at issue may comprise a small percentage of the total services typically provided by our health centers, PLANNED PARENTHOOD’s inability to provide these services will result in the Kissimmee health center losing many patients who will not come to us in the first place if we no longer can provide these services. Revenue from all of the other associated or subsequent services we would likely provide for those patients will thus also be lost.
For example, Planned Parenthood health centers discuss contraception with their patients and often prescribe it to women who have come to the health center for abortions. Many of these women will then continue coming to the health center afterwards for contraception as well as a variety of other health services. Thus, although surgical abortion services may constitute a small portion of the total services to be provided at the Kissimmee health center, our physicians’ inability to provide surgical abortions will result in the loss of future patients who would then return to us multiple times for other services the health center can provide.
Rather than admit that abortion is their cash cow, Tosh makes the argument that patients won’t come through their doors for condoms or birth control pills unless they receive abortion services first. Of course, this business model also works in reverse. The more teenagers and young adults that PPGO can lure in through their education and contraception programs, the more abortion services they can provide. Then those who receive abortion will return “multiple times” for birth control pills.
So while PPGO claims that federal grant money does not pay for abortion, the $1 million they spent on education in 2011, most of which was provided through federal funds, isn’t nearly enough to keep their doors open.
This is tantamount to making the argument that PPGO needs to serve the community and the federal grant money designated for this purpose isn’t enough to keep them going. In order to serve the community, they need money that is provided through abortion. These abortion services are needed to provide more abortion related services, which in turn enables them to provide more contraception and education, for which they receive funding.
It’s a clever ruse, I’ll give them that.
The rest of Tosh’s affidavit reads like the testimony of a child caught with her hand in a cookie jar. Tosh goes on to claim that they will be forced to relocate if the temporary injunction remains in effect for even three months.
… if the Kissimmee health center is unable to provide surgical abortion and cannot make use of diagnostic imaging services for more than three months, then PLANNED PARENTHOOD will be constrained to seek another site for its Kissimmee health center. To be viable, PLANNED PARENTHOOD’s Kissimmee center must be able to provide all the basic services necessary to attract and keep enough patients.
Despite the fact that it is important for Defendant PLANNED PARENTHOOD to be able to offer surgical abortions to those women who need and request them, the provision of abortions is not “a central component of PLANNED PARENTHOOD’s corporate activity.”
She is content to “double down” on the impossible lie that although Planned Parenthood’s $1.3 million annual income from surgical services is central to their survival, that abortion is not central to PPGO’s services. If this makes no sense to you whatsoever, don’t worry. Little else of PPGO’s argument makes sense either.
To prove that PPGO does not provide abortions, Tosh invokes the legacy of Margaret Sanger, which seems also irrelevant to her argument.
In fact it was in Brooklyn, New York back in 1916 that Margaret Sanger established a birth control clinic that was the predecessor to Planned Parenthood. That was over a half century before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade effectively legalized abortion throughout the United States. The national organization adopted its present name of Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 1942, which was over thirty years before the Roe decision. At that time it sponsored over 200 centers across the country. None performed abortions.
In addition to the unfortunate mention of the avowed racist and eugenicist, Margaret Sanger, Tosh also lays the blame on pro-life activists who have unfairly focused on the fact that PPGO, by their own account, take the lives of over 2,400 preborn children each year.
The $1.3 million they received for in surgical services in 2011 can easily be aligned with an average abortion cost of $542, which is fairly lose to the national average. My own estimates derived from conversations and “surgical services” listed on their tax forms with sidewalk counselors ranged between 2,800 to 3,000 little ones killed each year. But for the sake of argument, I will use their own numbers. Why would they lie after all?
The fact that PLANNED PARENTHOOD does offer abortions has brought considerable attention to the organization as a result of abortion opponents. Those opponents consistently fail however to focus upon the vast number of other services which PLANNED PARENTHOOD provides and the many activities in which it is involved that are unrelated to abortion.
Those vast number of “other services,” outnumber abortion by about 100 to 1, according to Jenna Tosh. Let’s analyze for a minute how that could work. If the 2,400 abortions provided by PPGO each year are “one percent” of their services, then are we to believe that they provide 240,000 non-abortion related service? That would be 657 “services” per day at all three of their locations. What are counted as services? Is each birth control pill and each condom distributed counted as a separate “service”? Only that would seem to make sense. Why not just take her word for it?
Sink, sank, sunk
But wait, it gets worse. In her affidavit, Jenna Tosh laments about all the time and money that PPGO has “sunk” into an abortion mega center that may never kill a single unborn person by high priced surgical means.
If the injunction is allowed to remain effect, unstayed, then PLANNED PARENTHOOD will be significantly harmed. PLANNED PARENTHOOD stands to lose all the time and the over one million dollars it has already sunk into acquiring and opening the Kissimmee health center. It took us approximately ten months to find the current site for the Kissimmee health center. Another eight months were necessary to improve the facility and open the site. PLANNED PARENTHOOD had to expend costly resources to ensure that the walls, ceiling, and floors in the building were all replaced. A full rewiring and computer server installation was necessary, and an adequate security system had to be properly installed.
I believe that it will take us at least ten months to find another suitable property for this health center and another eight months to fully prepare that site. The result will be no small loss of revenue. PLANNED PARENTHOOD will not be providing health care services in the Kissimmee area throughout this time. The move will require us to divert significant resources away from all of our other services and programs.
I have to applaud the use of the word, “sunk.” Hopefully, it describes their situation. It’s more than likely that Tosh is over her head at this point. She was hired in 2011 as a young and competent replacement to PPGO’s long-standing CEO Susan Idtensohn. Tosh, a PhD candidate with the University of Central Florida in Public Affairs-Governance and Policy Research, seemed to be a bright, young alternative to the “old guard.” Idtensohn was an outspoken baby boomer born in 1946. She often shot from the hip and was more than forthcoming in her comments about Planned Parenthood’s negative public image. Idtensohn even agreed to engage in debates with local pro-life activists, on topics such as, “Is Abortion Black Genocide?”
Jenna Tosh instead is content to read from canned propaganda talking points and seems out of her league when confronted with PPGO’s contradictions. I hope and pray for the sake of her eternal soul that such a career change is accompanied by sincere repentance. However, given her incompetence as an abortion giant’s CEO, it would be good for the preborn babies of Central Florida if she drags down PPGO on her way out.
Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?
Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!
Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.
Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)
Running Time: 145 minutes
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“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981
Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House. More recently, it was by catching just a glimpse of what this film reveals that Planned Parenthood director and abortion advocate Abby Johnson turned and became a strong advocate for the pre-born.
The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.
“…a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine
Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese
Running Time: 28 minutes
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Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.
Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.
Watch these pro-life videos on-line.
“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California
“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter
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Download the free Study Guide!
Is there a connection between pagan religion and the abortion industry?
This powerful presentation traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God and crime against humanity has produced in our beleaguered society.
Conceived as a sequel and update to the 1988 classic, The Massacre of Innocence, the new title, The Abortion Matrix, is entirely fitting. It not only references abortion’s specific target – the sacred matrix where human beings are formed in the womb in the very image of God, but it also implies the existence of a conspiracy, a matrix of seemingly disparate forces that are driving this holocaust.
The occult activity surrounding the abortion industry is exposed with numerous examples. But are these just aberrations, bizarre yet anomalous examples of abortionists who just happen to have ties to modern day witchcraft? Or is this representative of something deeper, more sinister and even endemic to the entire abortion movement?
As the allusion to the film of over a decade ago suggests, the viewer may learn that things are not always as they appear to be. The Abortion Matrix reveals the reality of child-killing and strikes the proper moral chord to move hearts to fulfill the biblical responsibility to rescue those unjustly sentenced to death and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 24:11,12; 31:8,9).
Speakers include: George Grant, Peter Hammond, RC Sproul Jr., Paul Jehle, Lou Engle, Rusty Thomas, Flip Benham, Janet Porter and many more.
Ten parts, over three hours of instruction!
Running Time: 195 minutes
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Special Two-Disc Set!
After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.
Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.
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