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Who and What
Theory and Observations
To be answered soon...
Event and Responses
Also, to be answered soon...
What is Operation Rescue / Operation Save America?Operation Save America is an unincorporated association. Its director is Philip "Flip" Benham, and it's currently headquartered in Concord, North Carolina, having moved there from Texas in 2001.
The organization was founded by Randall Terry as "Operation Rescue" in 1987. After numerous leadership and organizational changes, Benham became head of Operation Rescue in 1994.
Operation Rescue began using the name Operation Save America in 1999. In recent years Benham has often used the combined name, Operation Rescue / Operation Save America, and that combined name now appears on their website.
Numerous local and informal organizations exist around the country that use the "Operation Rescue" or "Operation Save America" names, including Buffalo, New York; California; Colorado; Boston; and Dallas, Texas.
On this website, we'll often abbreviate the name of the organization to simply OR/OSA.
Who are Operation Rescue's local supporters in Central Ohio?
"Tom Raddell from Cleveland , along with the Minutemen in Columbus, will be paving the way for us." - Flip Benham quoted in the OR/OSA newsletter, March 2003, referring to the planning for the Columbus national event.This type of national event is impossible unless local support for it already exists; there are always some number of local, or nearby, people involved with OR/OSA national events, many of whom have been involved with the organization for a long time and have attended previous national events.
Tom Raddell is OR/OSA's organizer based in Cleveland, Ohio; he has been involved with Cleveland Right to Life and Greater Cleveland's Life Link. "The Minutemen" are "Minutemen United," a two-year-old group based in Central Ohio founded by former London, Ohio high school football coach Dave Daubenmire. Daubenmire has named Mark Harrington as a co-founder of Minutemen United.
How and when was this event announced in the Columbus area?One announcement of an organizing meeting - which didn't mention OR/OSA or even the word "abortion" - was sent to the Minutemen United e-mailing list and posted on their website. This meeting was held on March 26, 2004 at Potter's House Church of God in Columbus, and it attracted between 100 and 125 people. In attendance were Dave Daubenmire; OR/OSA organizer Tom Raddell from Cleveland; Minutemen United pastor Bill Dunfee; and an assistant pastor and choir from the Potter's House Church. The meeting was, in fact, a recruiting session for the OR/OSA national event. Brochures promoting the OR/OSA national event and the Minutemen were distributed.
What is Minutemen United, who is "Coach" Dave Daubenmire, and what is their relationship with Operation Rescue?
"I had a chance to be with the Coach and many of you in Washington, DC... And I want to thank each and every person that was there because you kept me out of jail." - Tom Raddell, OR/OSA representative, speaking before the Columbus organizing meeting
We would briefly describe Minutemen United, in secular terms, as a group focused on proactively enforcing a dominionist, or Christian supremacist, ideology in America.
Minutemen United was formed by, among others, Dave Daubenmire and Mark Harrington in the summer of 2002. Its website claims that two chapters of the organization exist, one in Columbus, the other in Coshocton County which is a bit more than an hour's drive east of Columbus. Their "Who Are the Minutemen" web page provides more detail, although it's thick with Christian Dominionist jargon.
One indication of a relationship between OR/OSA and the Minutemen was visible at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, DC in October of 2003; this is the event that Raddell refers to in the quote above. There, OR/OSA leadership, surrounded by Minutemen, carried out a ceremony in which certain Supreme Court decisions were torn up by children, placed in a metal can, and burned, in violation of the law prohibiting open fires on the streets surrounding Federal buildings. The Minutemen gathered around Flip Benham and Tom Raddell in such a way as to make it impossible for Federal marshals or Supreme Court police to determine who set the fire.
Dave Daubenmire, former coach at London (Ohio) High School, was named in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU after his practice of leading players in prayer was brought to light. He has since left London, and formed both Minutemen United and Pass the Salt Ministries. Pass the Salt is also the name of his weekly radio program on Columbus radio station WRFD.
What is Potter's House Church of God?This is where the initial organizing meeting for the OR/OSA national event in Columbus was held on March 26, 2004; this meeting was also listed in the church calendar. This is a church which is located along Interstate 70 on the west side of Columbus. It produces a weekly television program which can be seen on two Columbus stations along with the national Dominion/Sky Angel religious satellite television system.
What is the Center for Bioethical Reform?The Center for Bioethical Reform (CBR) is a California based organization founded and directed by Gregg Cunningham. Priests for Life head Frank Pavone, an official of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, has also been involved with CBR as a board member. CBR is well-known for provoking conflict throughout the country with its graphic displays and billboard trucks which they use to attempt to equate abortion with the Holocaust and lynchings of African-Americans.
Who is Mark Harrington and what are his relationships with Operation Rescue and the Center for Bioethical Reform?Mark Harrington is a Columbus native who was part of the leadership of OR/OSA's Dayton, Ohio, national event in July 1997. At that event, during an evening prayer rally, he was the focus of a commissioning ceremony. He has since joined the Center for Bioethical Reform (CBR), a California based organization, as director of its Midwest division. Dave Daubenmire has named him as a co-founder of Minutemen United.
Harrington also has a weekly program on WRFD, which runs immediately following Daubenmire's on Saturday afternoons.
Who is Patrick Johnston (James P. Johnston, D.O.) and what is his relationship with Operation Rescue?James P. Johnston is an osteopathic physician who lives in Heath, Ohio, which is a small community just south of Newark. He maintains a family practice office in Dresden, Ohio, and is on staff at the two hospitals of the Genesis Healthcare System in Zanesville.
Johnston is the vice chairman of the Constitution Party of Ohio. Web searches indicate that he has used his first and middle names in different fields since 1996: "James P. Johnston" in his medical practice, and "Patrick Johnston" in politics and Christian activism. The Constitution Party of Ohio has recently started correcting references to him on their website to his full legal name.
Johnston has received some notoriety lately - including a mention in Slate - for his essay entitled "Why Christians Should Not Vote for George Bush." Though his website is full of articles and tracts - including a rather interesting essay on theonomy - his personal website apparently doesn't contain the totality of what he's written and placed online.
The Army of God website idolizes Paul Hill, the since-executed Florida man who took a shotgun to a doctor and his escort at point-blank range, as an "American Hero." It is in this site that Patrick Johnston is named as an "Anti-Abortion Hero of the Faith." Why that is so is an interesting question, because that list of so-called heroes is populated by the likes of Paul Hill, James Kopp, Clay Waagner and others who are serving, or have served, serious jail time for their crimes.
It's on this Army of God website that two essays from Patrick Johnston appear: the first, a tract supporting the so-called "justifiable homicide" doctrine, that lethal force against abortion providers is justified as a merely "defensive action;" the second is entitled, "What the Bible Says Should Be Done to Abortionists," and attempts to make the justification for action against providers, that letting "murderers" live "pollutes the land," as a result, "the curse of innocent blood rests upon us."
Meanwhile, another one of Johnston's essays, elsewhere on the web, advocates the use of jury nullification - essentially, veto of law by a jury - to allow James Kopp, the since-convicted slayer of Buffalo Dr. Barnett Slepian, to go free.
Johnston enjoys a close relationship with the Minutemen; he was present at the OR/OSA organizing meeting, and a subsequent "debate" involving Johnston was both promoted by the Minutemen on their website and through e-mail, and was well-attended by them. He has also had a short note published on the OR/OSA website where he looks forward to the OR/OSA national event this summer.
Update, June 5, 2004: We interviewed Johnston about the anticipated OR/OSA event in Columbus this summer; he says that he's "serving" Operation Save America leader Flip Benham by helping make preparations on his behalf. See the video and transcript of this interview.
Quotes from James Patrick Johnston:
What are Salem Communications and WRFD and what do they have to do with this event?Salem Communications owns and operates 92 radio stations in the United States, including WRFD, AM 880 in Columbus. This station carries the weekly radio programs of Dave Daubenmire and Mark Harrington. While the company may not agree with the views expressed by talk show hosts on its station, Salem is ultimately responsible for the programming carried on its station as a licensee of, and in compliance with the rules of, the Federal Communications Commission.
Who put together this website?This website is the work of Mike Doughney and Lauren Sabina Kneisly, who are solely responsible for its content thus far.
We brought barf.org, now named Biblical America Resistance Front, online during the 1997 Operation Rescue national event in Dayton, Ohio. We've since been on a strange odyssey through the subcultures of those that advocate a Biblical America, watching a number of OR/OSA national events, Billy Graham Crusades, Promise Keeper rallies, and stadium-sized Christian youth events. We've written about bits and pieces of this strange trip for our website and weblog.
We've been together and livin' in sin in Maryland for the past seven years or so. Lauren Sabina is a native of Central Ohio.
Copyright © 2004, 2005
This website was created by the same people who brought you barf.org.