About fifty adult members of Operation Save America (OSA), a splinter group of Randall Terry’s infamous Operation Rescue, rallied outside a Montgomery, Alabama clinic yesterday morning. Meanwhile, dozens more OSA participants visited the Civil Rights Memorial in downtown Montgomery to sing gospel songs and call for an end to female self-determination. But it was all fairly low-key — which is exactly what counter-organizers had hoped to achieve with careful planning over several months before the event.
Contrarily, OSA had to cancel a planned side trip to Mobile today. Although they wanted to protest outside the federal courthouse where Judge Callie Granade recently ruled against Alabama’s ban on marriage equality, OSA organizers forgot to obtain an event permit in advance.
Perhaps bitter over their perceived lack of success so far, OSA was more aggressive today. Blowing a ram’s horn at Reproductive Health Services (RHS), one participant stood on the sidewalk loudly exhorting clinic access volunteers to engage him in debate. A group of OSA protesters also attempted to stand on the grass in front of the facility’s doors, but instead were given a trespass warning and escorted back across the street by Montgomery police officers. The city police department also has remote cameras on site to observe the protest area.
OSA Sunday plans to oppose religious freedom for others were a big fizzle
According to a leaked copy of OSA’s proposed schedule, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Montgomery was to receive their “assistance” on Sunday. Recalling OSA’s actions at the UU church in New Orleans last year when they interrupted a memorial for a deceased member of the community, the congregation prepared for trouble that never arrived. Today I spoke with Reverend Lynn Hopkins about her church and their animating beliefs.
Clinic defense organizers also suspected that OSA might try to disrupt New Elam Baptist Church, where RHS employee Callie Chatman is both a minister herself and married to a minister. But on Sunday, only one OSA participant showed up at her church, spoke up only during the witnessing portion of the service, and attempted to buttonhole Mrs. Chatman briefly after worship concluded.
Belying their rhetoric about religious freedom, OSA members have quite a rich history of public objections to other people’s religions. Ante Pavkovic, who led the downtown rally yesterday, was arrested in 2012 for interrupting a Hindu priest who was the first person of his faith to deliver an opening prayer for the US Senate chamber.
Stung by BU’s coverage of the extremism in their midst
Despite the fact 1) participants read and sign a biblically modeled “Pledge for Non-violence” 2) OSA has police liaisons that work with local and federal law enforcement officials 3) that OSA leadership has publically eschewed violence in all its forms 4) that members of OSA who were formerly involved in the “rescue movement” were part of the largest non-violent civil disobedient movement in history 5) and that in over 80,000 O.R. arrests, there was not one arrest for violence Breitbart Unmasked claims OSA Christians are “domestic terrorists” and “featuring prominent extremists who endorse or commit acts of violence against reproductive care clinics and providers.” Say what? Clearly, the reporters at Breitbart Unmasked are too busy pontificating to research. Come on guys, how about a little journalist ethics or a smidgeon of intellectual honesty?
OSA is not only eager to appropriate the history of the Civil Rights movement, but also keen to have you believe their cause is bigger than Martin Luther King. And never mind that Cheryl Sullenger, who was convicted of conspiring to detonate a bomb at an abortion clinic in 1988 and helped Scott Roeder stalk Dr. George Tiller prior to murdering him, is now an adviser to Operation Rescue — or that one of her co-conspirators is attending the OSA event. What does it say about the wild-eyed fanatics in Montgomery that the organization must have them sign pledges to be non-violent?