Focus on the Family
8 September, 2003
The execution of our brother, Paul Hill on the third of September was not met with silence from the heavens. There was a response in the atmosphere. The gathered, dark clouds in the minutes before the execution were featured in the pictures of several newspapers the following day. On the front page of the Charlotte Observer, the famed inspiration of the activist movement or the eighties, Joan Andrews Bell, was shown praying along with one of her several adopted, crippled children. She was among various luminaries of the anti-abortion movement. Two original Operation Rescue leaders included Jeff White and Susan (Odom) Peters. Missionaries to the Pre-born founder, Matt Trewhella was present along with a few other missionaries, including Drew Heiss, who played taps when the execution was scheduled at 6 p.m. Kinsmen in the use of force included abortuary bombers and conspirators: Marjorie Reed, Joshua Graff, John Brockhoeft, and Michael Bray. Fr. David Trosh, the Roman Catholic priest of Mobile who has long been de-activated by his bishop for his public support of Michael Griffin and Paul Hill, plus Kansas City pastor David Keane along with Trewhella and Bray were the only clergymen present. The group of some sixty people were penned together by cordoned rope and separated from a smaller group of general anti-death penalty folks who stand indiscriminately against the execution of the wicked including Ted Bundy, who had been put to death in 1989 in the same room Paul Hill was to die in. The third pen held just two knaves (one Rubin Chavez being the mouthier of the two) who opposed the murder of children but supported the murder of Paul Hill.
That this was no ordinary execution was testified to not only by extraordinary police security (bomb searching devices, dogs, ID checks, pictures of individuals used by police to guide them in extra), but by the weather. Newspapers no peddlers of divination, they acknowledged the apparent auspiciousness of the event. The Miami Herald reported under the bold sub-title, “Heavens Darkened” the following: “A massive thunderclap rattled the sky just as Hill was scheduled to die at 6 p.m., and a howl went up from the crowd, hailing the weather as a sign from above. ‘When they crucified Jesus, the heavens darkened,’ said Neal Horsley, a Carrolton, Ga., activist.” And the Independent Florida Alligator said, “Ominous Dark clouds and loud clashes of lighting bolted across the sky just minutes after Hill was pronounced dead at 6:08 p.m. The New York Times also recognized the portentous display. The thunder preceding the execution by minutes was acknowledged by Sterling Ivey, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Corrections. The Times reports that, “Mr. Hill’s final statement was preceded by claps of thunder that were audible in the death chamber, Mr. Ivey said.
“In the field across the highway, some of Mr. Hill’s supporters knelt and shouted, ‘Speak Your wrath, Lord!’ as inky clouds surrounded the prison and thunder boomed. At 6 o’clock sharp, the group released yellow balloons into the sky and a few men sobbed. The rain started then, and did not let up for hours.”
Don Spitz, Paul Hill’s official “spiritual adviser” who visited Paul for four hours that day and then witnessed the his last breathing moments, said that the lights flickered as the thunder sounded leading him to wonder for a moment whether the designs of the executioners would be postponed. More importantly, Don reported to me the next day as we waited in the airport that Paul was strong, calm, and resolved to the end.
He died for the love of the truth and the defenseless. But in the radio, T.V. and newspaper interviews that I gave in the days surrounding the execution, the questions reporters repeated pertained to their worry over the possibility of increased use of force to either stop abortion or retaliate against abortionists or authorities responsible for this execution.
As to vengeance, the Lord will repay. In the case of our Lord’s execution, Eusebius, the Father of Church History, reports that Pilate, wearied with misfortune, committed suicide. (Perhaps Paul’s abusers will perform the same service.) The One who rewards each one for according to his deeds will deal with those responsible: Judge Frank Bell; former Governor Chiles; jurors; and the prosecutor, former Assistant State’s Attorney James Murray.
As for defensive action, I have told reporters that I expect that Paul’s execution will bring new inspiration to those who love mercy and justice. (Indeed, on the third day after the execution some fires were started inside an abortuary in Indianapolis.) I told them that I expected that others might be inspired to increased activity in all areas of service from letter writing and preaching to crisis pregnancy counseling to the termination of abortionists. When asked more pointedly whether I would engage in the use of force, I have replied, “Not at this time. I have no plans.”
On one interview I elaborated. When asked repeatedly by a local Maryland reporter what I personally would do, I opted for a less cagey reply. I noted that while I was not as deep a lover of others, as was Paul Hill, I had no plans at this time to save the babies of other parents who were delivering their children to the butcher. But I could guarantee that I would look after my own. “I have nine daughters. And should any of them fall into some delusion and determine to kill a grandchild of mine, it would not happen.” I guaranteed her that I would defend my own.
Defensive Action Promise Keepers
What Americans lack, to be sure, is a focus on the family. Or as a bumper sticker in Colorado Springs urges, Americans need to “Focus on Your Own Damn Family.” Indeed, men need to protect their families. How is it that they permit their wives or girl friends or children to slaughter their own? American families need fathers who are resolved to protect their own children. Such promise keepers would do much to curtail the blood shed.
Let us pray for Promise Keepers and other fine Christian ministries: that they prosper, elaborate and grow in their focus on the family.