Thursday, July 13, 2006
KEN BLACKWELL-OPERATION SAVE AMERICA CONNECTION
On January 22, 2004, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell spoke at the anti-abortion Stand for Life 2004 rally outside the Ohio Statehouse. Blackwell shared the podium with Flip Benham, director of the Christian domionist Operation Save America (OSA). Pictures of Blackwell and Benham together at the rally appear here.
On July 17-23, 2004, OSA held its “annual event” (and here) where OSA members, partners, and supporters verbally harassed Columbus police, held a “fetal funeral“ and an "ecclesiasitical trial" and generally rabble-roused for godly government. One evening I witnessed an OSA supporter assault a Channel 6 cameraman. Off-site, OSA disrupted entrances to women's clinics. Armed with bullhorns and shofars, they picketed Mount Carmel East Hospital and United Way of Central Ohio--“a dark filthy cesspool,” “a disgrace before God, the nation, and the city,” a “foul organization,” and an “abomination,"-- which Flip Benham implored God to destroy.
On July 22, exactly 6 months after Blackwell and Benham's Statehouse chat-up, OSA assistant director Rusty Thomas, Flip Benham standing nearby in City Hall Plaza, burned “ in sight of Muslim onlookers, "things detestable” including a Quran (“Better these lies burn now, than America burn later").
Following the burn, OSA communications director Brenda Spurlock wrote of Columbus:
"What was unexpected was the revelation that our government officials are absolutely terrified of offending Muslim immigrants. Like nations dealing with Adolph Hitler during the Second World War, government officials are trying very hard not to arouse the ire of the devil. It seems safe to say that terrorism has worked very well as far as our local and federal governments are concerned, Muslims have become a privileged class"
She then quoted Flip Benham,
"The [Columbus city] government is an absolute coward with the Muslims, because it's afraid of being blown up."
By the end of the week, OSA’s “national event” had cost the City of Columbus $127,896 in police protection alone. (Columbus Dispatch October 7, 2004--paid archives). I have not been able to learn the cost to other law enforcement agencies which also ran security at various sites which reportedly included the Franklin County Sheriff, the Ohio Highway Patrol, the FBI, and Federal Marshals.
Ken Blackwell, to the best of my knowledge, has neither commented on nor condemned Flip Benham, Rusty Thomas, and OSA's actions at City Hall Plaza
On October 16, 2005, Blackwell was a guest speaker at the launch of Rod Parsley's Reformation Ohio--again in front of the Statehouse. Other speakers included Parsley, State Senator Jim Jordan, State Represenatative Linda Reidelbach, US Rep. Walter Jones, and presidential hopeful Senator Sam Brownback.
After the event, I asked Blackwell about his relationship with Benham and Operation Save America and tape recorded the conversation. Blackwell walked away after this 1-sentence reply:
FREE PRESS: Marley Greiner from the Free Press. I’ve had one concern for the last couple years. I know that you shared the podium with Flip Benham a couple years ago, down here for Right to Life-- Roe v Wade-- in January. Later Flip Benham comes to town with Operation Save America and takes over City Hall for 5 [sic] days. Do you have any thoughts about that? Do you regret doing that?
KEN BLACKWELL: I never regret taking a stand for the protection of innocent life Period. Over and out. Ever.
NOTE: My article, Coup de'Etat in Ohio about the Reformation Ohio lanuch, published in the November-December 2005 issue of the Columbus Free Press will be posted on Theoconia soon, as well as transcriptions of speeches made from my tape recording of the event.
Blackwell and Benham photos by the author; the burn photo courtesy of BARF
For more on OSA's occupation of City Hall go to The Answer is No.