Operation Save America
Operation Save America (formerly Operation Rescue National) is a fundamentalist Christian conservative organization based in Concord, North Carolina, a suburb of Charlotte, that opposes human induced abortion and its legality, Islam, and homosexuality. In 1994, Flip Benham became the director of the organization, then called Operation Rescue National. Benham replaced Keith Tucci, who had replaced Randall Terry. Terry, Tucci and Benham have all been convicted of crimes related to their protest activities. Rusty Thomas is the current national director, having taken over when Flip Benham stepped down.
In the late 1990s, Benham abandoned the name of Operation Rescue, and changed the name of his organization to Operation Save America. Once Newman's organization (the former Operation Rescue West or California Operation Rescue) began to grow in prominence and use the name Operation Rescue, Benham also began using the name Operation Rescue. After a feud with Newman, and after Benham was named in a lawsuit from the United States Department of Justice, Benham officially changed the name of Operation Rescue National to Operation Save America. Meanwhile, Benham broadened the scope of Operation Save America to include criticism of homosexuality, pornography, and Islam, and formed alliances with other Christian conservative groups and the Constitution Party. In 2002, Benham moved Operation Save America's headquarters from their longtime home in Dallas, Texas to Concord. In 2014 Operation Save America's new director Rev. Rusty Thomas moved the headquarters back to Dallas, Texas.
Operation Save America conducts mass protests at abortion clinics to promote a pro-life cause. Operation Save America has mobilized its members for other causes common to the Christian right, for example, opposition to Gay-Straight Alliances in public schools. At South Rowan High School, near Charlotte, when a Gay-Straight Alliance was forming at that school, Operation Save America arranged to have some 700 people to show up at the school board meeting and get the board to ban the club from the school.
They have also been involved in burning the Islamic holy text, the Qur'an, despite the opposition of most of the Muslim community to the practice of abortion. Their actions have been described as "an affront to Islam, all people of faith, and to our society as a whole... not Christian [and] not American" by the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference.
On July 12, 2007, three members of the organization (Ante and Kathy Pavkovic, and their daughter Kristen) were arrested after they tried to shout down a Hindu clergyman as he offered the traditional morning prayer on the US Senate floor. The protest was denounced by Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
On July 20, 2014, members of the organization interrupted a worship service at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans. During a moment of silence for a member of the church who had died in the previous week, OSA member Deanna Waller began to speak about "abominations". Rev. Deanna Vandiver, a guest pastor who was leading the service, asked Waller and the other OSA members either to remain and be respectful of the service or to depart; church members escorted Waller and the more vocal OSA protestors out of the service, while others remained until the service was over, and attempted to engage church members during the coffee hour. Vandiver described the intrusion as "religious terrorism"; on its website, OSA described their action as presenting "the truth of the Gospel in this synagogue of Satan."
On July 21, 2017, concern was expressed by national and local leaders over plans for rallies and protests starting Saturday, July 22, 2017.
- Risen, James (August 10, 1994). "Abortion Clinic Slayings May Kill Operation Rescue". Los Angeles Times.
- Beeman, William (2001). "Fighting the Good Fight: Fundamentalism and Religious Revival". Anthropology for the Real World.
- Operation Rescue, Montana Human Rights Network.
- For one of Keith Tucci's convictions: "Anti-Abortion Leader Will Surrender," Sarasota Herald Tribune, Thursday, July 15, 1993, 3B; For one of Flip Benham's convictions: "Leader Convicted for Religious Demonstration at School," Reading Eagle/Reading Times, Wednesday, February 18, 1998, C14; For one of Randall Terry's convictions: "Court Upholds Terry's Sentence," The Gadsden Times, Sunday, February 27, 1994, A2
- Standing By His Conviction, Washington Post March 18, 1998
- Valle, Kirsten (April 11, 2006). "School Board bans SRHS's Gay/Straight Alliance". Salisbury Post. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
- Anti-abortionists' burning of Quran called 'hateful' - The Clarion-Ledger, July 20, 2006
- Protesters disrupt historic reading of Senate prayer by Hindu - The Guardian, July 13, 2007
- Christian protesters disrupt first Senate prayer by a Hindu, Boston Herald
- Morris, Robert (July 22, 2014). "Mayor's office issues certificate recognizing abortion protest group for "service" to New Orleans". Uptown Messenger. New Orleans, LA. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
- "The Macedonian Call". Operation Save America website. July 21, 2014. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
- McDade, Bill (July 2014). "Response to Disruption of Our Worship Service". First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
- Helmer, Katrina. "Operation Save America has plans for 'graphic' anti-abortion videos in upcoming public protests".
- Operation Rescue: A Challenge to the Nation's Conscience by Philip F. Lawler (1992) ISBN 0-87973-506-6
- Live From the Gates of Hell: An Insider's Look at the Antiabortion Underground by Jerry Reiter (2000) ISBN 1-57392-840-2
- "Metro Datelines – Anti-Abortion Group Will Close Its Offices", The New York Times, December 17, 1990
- Jim Risen & Judy L. Thomas, Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War (1998)
- New York Times September 15, 2006 "Anti-Abortion Group Loses Tax Exemption" by Stephanie Strom
- Clinics Prepare for Operation Rescue 1993