The Murder of God’s Prophet: In the Year of our Lord 2003
2 August 2003
Reflections on Paul Hill, John Brown, and Stonewall Jackson, along with Flip, Schummer, Al Qaeda, David Gunn, and more
On 19 February, 2003, a classified F.B.I. intelligence bulletin was issued to state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the country warning authorities to be on the alert for “lone terrorists.” Among those listed as examples was Paul J. Hill. The U.S. government, reacting to the rise of Islamic jihadism and inspired by the regular denunciation of baby defenders by “pro-life” organizations, has ratcheted up the rhetoric against those who confront national idolatry and defend the innocent.
Those who step beyond merely objecting to the murder of womb children and actually defend the innocent are not just “extremists”; they are “terrorists” – right there with the Palestinian intifada, Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah.
And so, in 2003, the terrorist Paul Hill can be quietly executed without a whisper of opposition from “pro-life organizations.”
One of the few memorable truths that George Bush the First said was: “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” Indeed, the matter does depend upon perspective – and truth. And there are those who know the truth, but do not love it. They condemn that costly action which obedience to it sometimes requires. While I was in jail circa 1987, I happened to walk by a television as George Bush in his campaign for presidency was asked about his pro-life views. If he believed abortion ought to be outlawed, what, asked the reporter, would be the sanctions against those who committed an abortion?
He wouldn’t say that the penalty ought to be on parity with that of any other murder. Like most pro-lifers, if he believed the truth, he didn’t love it enough to stand for it.
Paul Hill believed the truth, loved the truth, spoke the truth, and acted upon the truth.
That was just too much for both Joe citizen and Joe Christian.
I remember standing on a street corner in down town Pensacola with Paul Hill at the trial of Michael Griffin following his termination of Abortionist David Gunn on 17 March, 1993. Paul had drawn abundant attention with his huge signs which called for the government to “Execute Abortionists.” His banner also raised the question of executing the “accessories” as well. While Paul held fast to his pole, fighting a light breeze, Flip Benham arrived alone to confront and chide him. Railing against him as one “spewing false teaching” and an “enemy of the cross,” Flip said he ought to do what he called others to do if he believed defensive action to be right.
I asked Flip why he wasn’t out blocking doors – a response to child slaughter which he believed to be a right and sufficient even in the face of the recent issuance of federal injunctions against such. (It seemed to go over his head.)
In the end, Paul did what he believed he was morally and legally authorized to do. Flip still has not. In the end, Paul paid the price his conscience demanded. He was faithful and true.
I never saw Paul revile Flip. In fact I was quite impressed and pleased with his Godly humility as he faced foes: both from within and without the pro-life “community.”
Paul Hill addressed two parties: the government and the citizen. To the government, he said: Your duty is to execute murderers according to the Laws of God and the laws of the state. To the citizen, he said: You have a duty to love and defend your neighbor.
Paul defended his neighbors, the most helpless of them all. He acted consistently with what he preached. But I think he was more than an uncommon citizen willing to lay down his life for the least of our brethren. I have always interpreted Paul’s deed not as an example of how any and every citizen may lawfully defend the innocent; I see him not as a citizen and defender but as a statesman and prophet. Paul did not choose to terminate an abortionist covertly so that he might repeat the good deed to future joy of many babies and their relatives. Rather, he chose to abort the abortionist in public, laying down his weapon and holding his hands to heaven as he walked away and submitted to arrest. His was the message of a prophet to the civil authorities. This is the proper legal standard. This is justice. Murderers are to be executed. These children of the womb are true children. The aborting of them is the murdering of them. Those who abort them or assist in the aborting of them are murderers and accessories to murder.
This ought to be the message of God’s people to the government. Each church of God, fulfilling its role as a standard bearer in its community, the “pillar of and foundation of truth” as Paul of Tarsus describes it (1 Tim. 3:15), ought to be proclaiming this justice to the civil authorities. The Law of God ought to be advocated as the standard for true justice. In this the church in its community is salt and light not only in matters of mercy but in matters of law and order: justice.
Prior to the execution of John Brown, Henry David Thoreau delivered a speech to the citizens of Concord, Massachusetts (Oct. 30, 1859). Of Brown, he said:
He was like the best of those who stood at Concord Bridge once, on Lexington Common, and on Bunker Hill, only he was firmer and higher principled than any that I have chanced to hear of as there. It was no abolition lecturer that converted him. Ethan Allen and Stark, with whom he may in some respects be compared, were rangers in a lower and less important field. they could bravely face their country’s foes, but he had the courage to face his country herself, when she was in the wrong. . .
He was a superior man. He did not value his bodily life in comparison with ideal things. He did not recognize unjust human laws, but resisted them as he was bid. For once we are lifted out of the trivialness and dust of politics into the region of truth and manhood. No man in America has ever stood up so persistently and effectively for the dignity of human nature . . . In that sense he was the most American of us all. He needed no babbling lawyer, making false issues, to defend him. He was more than a match for all the judges that American voters, or office-holders of whatever grade, can create. He could not have been tried by a jury of his peers, because his peers did not exist. When a man stands up serenely against the condemnation and vengeance of mankind, rising above them literally BY A WHOLE BODY, – even though he were of late the vilest murderer, who has settled that matter with himself, – the spectacle is a sublime one, – didn’t ye know it, ye Liberators, ye Tribunes, ye Republicans? – and we become criminal in comparison. Do yourselves the honor to recognize him. He needs none of your respect.
So it is with our brother, Paul. Few have the ability or at least the willingness to recognize the message and the messenger. Paul Hill is a prophet with a prophet’s message to a reprobate nation. And there will be consequences for the murder of God’s messenger.
On 6 May, 1992, I appeared by invitation before Charles Schummer’s Committee On Crime And Criminal Justice. The purpose of the Committee was to investigate the need to pass the FACE bill, which was designed to shut down protests at abortuaries.
My prepared statement, in part, said:
Justice – as our American society has always understood it – assumes the perspective of our Declaration of Independence; viz. that all men are endowed by the Creator with certain “unalienable Rights.” Justice demands that innocent human beings be protected from those who would prey upon them; protected from those who would enrich themselves by the shedding of innocent blood; and protected even from law-makers who might be in the pay of the abortion lobby.
Our republic is governed by certain principles of human dignity which deny the claims of a majority to oppress the minority. Thus, even a majority, by virtue of democratic vote, may not violate constitutional rights which are endowed upon all people by the Almighty. How much less, then, ought a cadre of abortion enthusiasts be permitted to impose their invidious legislation upon the majority of the people.
We concede that while a majority of the American people oppose ”criminal abortion” (as it is still called in the many state codes), it is a mere several thousand who involve themselves in sidewalk counseling and clinic blockades. It is this small group which this legislation seeks to address. I wish to beg your consideration of these most noble among prolife citizens of our country.
The sidewalk counselor and the clinic blockader both believe what they have been told by their Christian teachers about abortion. They believe that every abortion terminates the life of a child. And they act relatively consistently with what they believe. Some would say, however, that they are not as consistent as they could be. Writing in The New Republic in 1988, Jefferson Morely scorned prolifers with these words:
If the United State’s government, by allowing legal abortions, is now condoning 4,000 murders a day, civil disobedience, if not armed rebellion, would certainly be called for . . . Indeed, in such a horrific society, nonviolent resistance would constitute – like pacifism in the face of Nazi genocide – a profound moral failing. The most admirable response would be to organize a clandestine violent opposition to hinder if not end the mass murder. Anyone who firebombed Belsen would have been, in our judgment today, a hero, not an “extremist.” Thus the people who firebomb abortion clinics are . . . the only ones who, in the midst of what some antiabortion groups call the “American Holocaust,” are not acting like good Germans.
Similarly, in October of the year of 1984 when more clinics were destroyed than any year before or since, Ms magazine asked:
“If [prolifers] really believe that stopping abortion is the same as stopping child murders, the question arises, why aren’t they more violent?”
A variety of methods have been employed to interfere with child slaughter; from gluing facility doors shut, to demolition of the same; from picketing abortionists homes to shooting them. Indeed, as Ms magazine has asked, “Why aren’t they more violent?” [Here ends the “prepared statement”]
Paul Hill not only spoke and acted upon the truth, he functioned in the role of a prophet. We would do well to carefully consider the consequences for those who remain in a nation which murders God’s messengers:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against ourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.” (Matthew 23:29-31)
We celebrate the rebel Washington, the liberator Lincoln, or the freedom fighter Stonewall Jackson like the Jews celebrated the warrior, David and the slayer of Baal-worshippers, Elijah. But we jail or murder our own prophets.
Consequences follow. Jerusalem was destroyed a generation later.
We are not all prophets. But let us not fail to honor him as one.
See a 10 minute interview of Paul Hill weeks before his execution in 2003 posted by Life Talk here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLZwaaRhT3M