Saturday, August 13, 2005
ARMY OF GOD VISITS COMFEST
Originally published in The Columbus Free Press in edited form, August-September, 2004.
Webpage August 21, 2004
The “Army of God” made a brief appearance in Columbus during June 26 Pride activities
Army of God “Anti-abortion Hero of the Faith” Chuck Spingola and AOG agitator and roving “photo journalist” Jonathan O’Toole accompanied by well-known local “sidewalk abortion counselor” Repent Man, a posse of (mostly) teenage boys wearing “Got AIDS Yet?” tees, and a crew of videographers, attempted to disrupt the annual Pride interfaith service, held in conjunction with ComFest at the Goodale Park Gazebo. After about a 40 minute, tete a tete with Columbus Police and ComFest representatives, in which O’Toole and Spingola argued, often heatedly, that the police and ComFest were violating their First Amendment Rights, the group was escorted off the premises. Police later allowed re-entry at another point, but the group made no attempt to interfere with the service still in progress.
Unashamed and Associates Ministries (note, the page has been taken down; the link goes to a 2003 page). He was a guest speaker at the 2001 Pro-Life Virginia White Rose Conference and Dinner which was attended by some of the country’s most dangerous anti-abortion extremists, including convicted clinic bombers John Brockhoeft, Joshua Graff, Dennis Malvasi, and Rev. Michael Bray, who also serves as AOG’s “lifetime chaplain.” Spingola likes to tell the story about how his wife once asked him if he believed homosexuals should be put to death. He replied, “No dear, you get about half a dozen of the activists, you kill them, and the rest of them will go back in the closet.” He is best known locally for shinnying up a flagpole at the Statehouse and ripping down a rainbow flag during 2001 Pride parade.
In February Spignola got national attention after his rambling response to a Salon.com article about clinic terrorist Clayton Waagner appeared on the AOG webpage and was subsequently excerpted by Salon. In it he wrote, “As cream rises to the top, so the Christian terrorist rises above the huddled mass of churchgoers and the many voices that denounce their violent attempts to defend the innocent from their murderous assailants. Regarding abortion the separation is clear. The CT has the Word of God and a testimony of loving, albeit terrifying (to the wicked) actions.” He signed it, “Proud to be in the AOG.”
O'Toole who was featured in the HBO film Soldiers for the Army of God, worked as an “apprentice” to Neil Horsley, creator of the notorious Nurenberg Files website. O’Toole returned to Columbus a month after Pride to attend the first day of Operation Save America’s occupation of City Hall apparently to badger long-time same-side nemesis OSA Director Flip Benham who O’Toole believes is soft on abortion. Pictures of the opening day activities include AOG’s banners at the top of City Hall stairs, one of which reads, “Praise Jesus, Jim Kopp popped and stopped another baby killing doc” a reference to the 1998 murder of Buffalo abortion provider Dr. Barnett Slepian by another AOG “hero” James Kopp.