Mississippi Turning?
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Tue Jul 25, 2006 at 03:14:26 AM EST
"Southerners are nice, respectful - but when we've had enough, we've had enough." - Nathan Glenn, Jackson

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Mr. Glenn is not alone. A lot of other people in Jackson, Mississippi have had enough of  Flip Benham and the "gentle Christians" of Operation Save America -- including the church that welcomed them into town and two others that provided vans for OSA's use during the protest week. Saying that OSA had "deceived" him, Pastor Sino Agueze of Making Jesus Real Church in nearby Pearl told Benham and his "saints" that they were no longer welcome, after they had used the church to stage a burning of the Koran.

Anti-abortionists shut out

Making Jesus Real Church in Pearl shut its doors Thursday to activists from the national anti-abortion group Operation Save America after learning the group burned a Quran in the church's parking lot.

Agueze said he was not present Tuesday evening when the anti-abortion protesters burned the Muslim holy book, but learned about the incident from The Clarion-Ledger.
Jackson Muslims and a statewide interfaith group reacted with disgust to reports about the Quran burning.

"It sickens me to see such action," said Emad Al-Turk, co-founder of the International Museum of Muslim Cultures in Jackson. "Particularly when it's portrayed in the name of Christianity. We know Christianity is not like this."

But Flip Benham's kind of Christianity is never not like that.

Even people who openly oppose abortion rights are protesting the tactics of Flip Benham.

Mary Woodward, of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, chairs the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference. She characterized OSA's tactics as hatred, bigotry and intolerance "not representative of Christianity."

"And I think what made me saddest is that they included their children in these acts. I'm opposed to abortion, but I didn't see what happened with the burning of the Quran and everything as having anything to do with the issue."

And Ms. Woodward wasn't alone.

At the abortion rights news conference outside the Capitol, Jackson lawyer Ali ShamsidDeen, a Muslim, said, "We want everyone to understand that you will not see Muslims out burning Bibles or ... the Torah. We all believe that we believe we are brothers in this faith and that we should learn to live together and make the society one that we all can prosper in."

Even before Benham's group gathered in the parking lot of Pastor Aguize's church last Thursday night, even before "Miss Norma" McCorvey struck a match to the holy scriptures of Islam, there were rumblings in Jackson that Flip's people already had gone too far.

An anti-abortion demonstrator who tried to pass out literature during the news conference said she does not agree with destroying property.

"To me, when you walk in that destruction and you walk in that hatred of anger, you're not representing Jesus Christ," said Amy Williams, of Pearl. "Jesus was not a violent man."

Being uncomfortable with abortion doesn't mean that you want to see Ron Brock's "Truth Truck" coming around the corner, either.

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Photo: ItinerantRabwhat

As Trina Knott mused to one reporter in Jackson, "The steps by which they're taking, sometimes will cause you to wonder."

Terri Herring, who recently resigned as president of Pro-Life Mississippi to pursue anti-choice activism in an expanded role, estimated that only about 50 residents of the state joined last week's OSA protests, saying, "Many people are concerned about the controversy, and it's difficult for them to take a step to be that controversial."

Only "controversial," Terri?

Deirdra Harris Glover at Pro-Choice Mississippi calls it more than that (emphasis in the original).

Ten years ago, I was at Centennial Olympic Park when it was bombed by Eric Robert Rudolph, a Christian Identity member. Rudolph later said "the purpose of the attack on July 27 was to confound, anger and embarrass the Washington government in the eyes of the world for its abominable sanctioning of abortion on demand." Rudolph also bombed abortion clinics in Georgia and Alabama, as well as a gay night club before he was captured.

Yesterday, five people were arrested for harrassing (sic) St. James Episcopal Church, and a dude in a car played chicken with a line of church-defending pro-choice activists at the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Jackson (and was surprised when they defended themselves from a huge piece of metal coming at them.)

Bomb threats, driving into protest lines: these aren't the actions of anti-abortion activists, or even fanatics: they're acts of domestic terrorism.

The newly installed president of Pro-Life Mississippi, Tanya Britton, eagerly broke the law last week in the company of hardened militants such as Ken Scott and Patrick Johnston, and was detained by the Jackson Police.  But Britton differs from Terri Herring more in style than in substance.

Last fall, Herring appeared in PBS Frontline's The Last Abortion Clinic, a film in which she advocated the criminalization of abortion. No one's voice of moderation, Herring made herself available for a meeting and photo op with Operation Rescue front man Keith Mason last spring, and took Mason along as she lobbied state senators to exclude an exception for rape survivors from a proposed abortion ban.  

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Photo: Operation Rescue

She has appeared as a radio guest [PDF transcript] of Mark Crutcher, a down-and-dirty antiabortion operative whose Life Dynamics lists the addresses and phone numbers of hundreds of clinics across the country under the heading Death Camps.  

But after a week of Flip Benham and his "saints," even adamant activist Terri Herring is now distancing herself from what Benham calls "gentle revolution."  

Anti-abortion activists over the last week have trotted out an aborted fetus in a vacuum-packed bag, torn up then burned a Quran, shredded a gay pride flag, and preached Jesus' message over loudspeakers in the street.

While their style of activism has gotten attention, it also has left some Christians and anti-abortion supporters in the state unsettled, worried these out-of-town protesters have given them a bad name and distorted their message.

"Anything that anyone pro-life does that does not show respect for all human life - born, unborn or dead - does not represent our movement," said Terri Herring, a longtime anti-abortion activist in the state and former head of Pro-Life Mississippi. "It's important not to judge the entire pro-life movement based on the events of this week."

Gee, Terri. Does that mean you didn't want your picture taken at the fake funeral in Smith Park the other day, all lined up to view Frank Pavone's traveling fetus?

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Photo: Joe Ellis, Clarion-Ledger

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Photo: OSA

Herring told the Clarion-Ledger that "she applauds the courage of those who stand up for 'the unborn,' but those in the anti-abortion movement have to be cognizant they can become ineffective when they are perceived as radical."  She's hoping that Jackson and the rest of the state can forget about OSA's  grotesque excesses of last week and move on, "because I think we have gained too much ground to lose momentum now."

Is that really what you're hoping for, Terri?  Well, I have just two words for you: Oh, Saratoga!

While Mississippi awaits next week's promised advent of Father Francis and Oh, Saratoga! for the second shift in the Siege of Jackson, "Christian" activists everywhere might ponder these words from Mark McElroy: Making Hatred Real.

Along with many others in the Jackson metro area, Agueze and other members of the Making Jesus Real Church seemed shocked by Operation Save America's actions. But what, exactly, did they expect?

Like many fundamentalists, members of Operation Save America suffer from a dangerous form of spiritual schizophrenia. On one hand, they claim to celebrate America's liberty; on the other, they fight against the freedom of religion that liberty entails. On one hand, they talk a lot about their desperate love for the unborn; on the other, they seem to have a great deal of hatred and bile to direct toward adults.

Fundamentalism justifies hateful actions in the name of love. It ignores our freedom in Christ, seeking instead to bind its beliefs on others. It positions physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse as ministry. It stirs up frenzied emotionalism and dismisses rational thought. In short: it's the fast path from Christian to Crazy.

I'm glad to hear that the people at the Making Jesus Real Church were taken aback by Operation Save America's actions. Perhaps they and other Christian fundamentalists, having glimpsed the logical extension of their own particularly poisonous brand of faith, will remember this lesson.

Perhaps they will finally understand that striking out at the faith and lives of others does not, in any way, help make Jesus real.

And that says it all.

[Title photo: OSA]

...the travelling fetus.  I cannot believe they were able to get ahold of one; presumeably someone stole it from a clinic or other medical establishment?  Can't charges be pressed?

The more this bunch gets a free hand, the more clearly their true nature and intentions show through.  I'm glad to hear that decent folks in Jackson are revolted, including the duped host congregations.  

by montpellier on Wed Jul 26, 2006 at 01:29:03 PM EST

According to a July 20 story in the Jackson paper http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060720/ NEWS/60720008> :

Pavone said he received the fetus from an anonymous pathologist who asked him to give it a proper burial.

That was about two years ago: since then, this fetus has traveled the country under a variety of names, starring in faux funerals and other pseudo-religious events.

Some members of my family are Catholic: I sincerely hope they don't ask Fr. Pavone to handle their funeral arrangements.

by Pierce R Butler on Wed Jul 26, 2006 at 07:30:25 PM EST

are revolted, too.

An editorial from the Natchez Democrat.

In all honesty, the anti-abortion protests remained relatively civil longer than we would have originally guessed.

This week, however, the group Operation Save America showed their true colors.

The group isn't just about stopping abortion; it's about hatred.

Abortion continues to be one of the most hotly contested, and deeply emotional issues facing America.

Unfortunately, true debate on the matter becomes an afterthought when you start burning a copy of the Islamic holy book, the Quran and spewing hate-filled rhetoric.
What's worse is that all of the hate and bigotry being thrown around the state may be coming from non-Mississippians. We know Mississippi is the Hospitality State, but couldn't we make an exception, just this once?

If tempers and temperatures continue to be high, we fear someone will get hurt, as the verbal barbs turn more violent.

by moiv on Wed Jul 26, 2006 at 08:19:05 PM EST

says that it has no official information about an upcoming protest by Oh, Saratoga! -- but Father Francis says different.

And Flip Benham's hate fest last week wasn't the first Ecclesiastical Court.

by moiv on Tue Jul 25, 2006 at 03:24:06 AM EST

to OSA supporters from Flip Benham's close associate and roadie, Rusty Thomas of Waco, Texas (emphasis added).

Dear Champion of the Lord and the Preborn,

The Lord richly bless you!  Today is the final day of the OSA event in Jackson.  It was an intense battle for the souls of men, the lives of children, and the future of America.  The godly goal was to show up to give God a reason to vanquish the last remaining abortion mill in Mississippi.  Thus making Mississippi the first state to be cleansed of the sin of shedding innocent blood and the crime of abortion.

Other Christian teams will be coming in to continue to storm the gates of hell till the principalities, powers, and the rulers of darkness relinquish their grip and this stronghold is brought down in Jesus' name!  Please continue to pray for the victory to emerge.  It will send a tremor throughout the abortion industry that their days are numbered.  Arise God and let Your enemies be scattered!!!
Many try to discredit the ministry of Operation Save America saying that it is social/political movement rather than what it is a Gospel/Kingdom ministry.  Personally, I have led more people to Christ on accident doing this Kingdom work, than I ever did on purpose as a Pastor and traveling Evangelist.  The reason is simple.  It follows the pattern of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Though Jesus did spend some of His time in the Temple (Church) and the Synagogue teaching the masses, the majority of His time, however, was spent on the streets rubbing shoulders with the sinners of His day.  The Church was birthed in the streets and spread the Kingdom of God from there.  Perhaps, it is time for us to simply return to the gates of our cities, lift up the name of Jesus, proclaim His word, and let the Lion out of His cage.  You do not have to teach a lion what to do, you just open the cage.  Let Him out Church.  

Jesus declared, "Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."



by moiv on Tue Jul 25, 2006 at 07:58:25 PM EST

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