This article appeared originally in the September-October 2005 issue of the Columbus Free Press. Phitos by the author.
Operation Save America director Flip Benham returned to Central Ohio on August 12 without the dog, pony, and ass (and here ) to present what he called a series of "training sessions" during a week-long revival at Minutemen United headquarters church, New Beginnings, in Warsaw. The following day, he joined Minutemen founder Dave Daubenmire, New Beginnings pastor Bill Dunfee, and Ohio Constitution Party Vice Chair Dr. Patrick Johnston, his wife Elizabeth, and all the little Johnstons, along with assorted Minutemen and friends for their weekly fetus-saving crusade at Capital Care Women's Center in Clintonville. CapCare was the scene of several OSA protests a year ago during its "national event" here, which included the 6-day occupation of Columbus City Hall plaza.
Benham gave an exclusive interview to the Free Press discussing a number of topics: Ukraine's Orange Revolution (Jesus-based), the American Revolution (all about Jesus), the French Revolution (nothing about God), Thomas Jefferson (nearly wasn't elected President because voters questioned his Christianity although he held a Biblical world-view), his student days at Florida State (drunken and debauched), the Tao of Criminalization (Christianity was criminalized by the decriminalization of abortion and homosexuality), and the failure of conservatism.
Benham also looked back on last year's Columbus experience, not without a tinge of nostalgia, noting that The Answer Is No was much better humored than the protesters he encountered at last month's "national event" in Colorado, despite his contention that it was an "awesome" event that turned Denver and Boulder right side up in the name of Jesus. "Sure, last year there was Jesus Nazi stuff and foul language, but a lot of it was humorous, too." Not so in Colorado! He reported that "those paragons of Boulder tolerance" confronted OSA at the two "abortion mills" and "all of a sudden sprayed us with ketchup, threw rocks at us, mustard, sprayed us with water, tried to drive their cars into us, pointed guns at us. All we did was come out with another point of view, and they showed us they'd kill us if they could. They'd have strung every single one of us up." None of which seem to upset him too much, at least in the telling.
Benham also denied the recent buzz among Central Ohio theocon watchers. based in part on the decreased number of CapCare protesters. that OSA/Minutemen presence is waning here. He pointed out that about 100 people attended his talk at New Beginnings the previous evening. He also suggested that what hasn't been noticed is that the Minutemen are "taking theology to the people,or in OSA parlance "theology becoming biography in the streets." For instance, not only national OSA members but also a number of Minutemen and their wives attended the Schiavo deathwatch in Florida where Daubenmire and Dunfee were arrested. This personalized street theology or populist approach, is a critical component of the us vs them mentality that separates and isolates "true Christians" like them from the "church house" pew warmers and "evan-jellyfish" in mainstream, evangelical exburban mega-churches who don't walk their talk
Benham clearly believes that the current political system is a deadend that hinders the Biblical American tactical objectives of recriminalizing abortion and homosexuality, which although he didn't admit it, are simply a means to an end: Bibliocratic establishment of a desecularized and hegemonic state. While denying the statist model for his God-centered vision Benham speaks in statist terms that leave no room for doubt. "We insist that we're going to do it our way, and we want our government to make people do it our way."
Benham is particularly critical of the "failed strategy" of James Dobson (Focus on the Family),a belief that Republicans and conservatives can solve "the problem that only we (OSA and their fellow Bibliocrats) can solve." "Conservatism is not Christianity.the real stuff." Rejecting the political process, and by implication democracy, history, and the Constitution as we know it, Benham said" it (BA goals) won't be won from the top down by the Republican Party, or by stacking a bunch of judicial nominees in the Supreme Court. It isn't going to happen by Congress and it isn't going to happen by Executive Order by the President. It's going to happen as the Church of Jesus Christ wakes up and comes out of the church and lives out its faith. We win when we do that. We will win!"
Coach Dave Daubenmire, Minutemen United (left) broadcasts live by cell from CapCare during Benham's visit. Pastor Bill Dunfee, New Beginnings Church, Warsaw, OH (right)