By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
April 1, 2020
Seven Christians exercising their First Amendment freedoms by prayer walking outside of a Greensboro abortion clinic were arrested on Monday and accused of violating Guilford County’s stay-at-home order.
For three of the men, all affiliated with the Charlotte-based ministry Love Life, it was their second such arrest in three days, despite their strict attention to social distancing and limiting their gathering to fewer than ten people.
Justin Reeder, the 34-year-old founder of Love Life, pointed out in a social media video following the arrests that he and the other prayer walkers were doing nothing unlawful.
He said had they been hanging out at a liquor store or driving their wives to the abortion clinic — both establishments deemed “essential” by gubernatorial orders — their presence in a Greensboro parking lot would not have been questioned.
“Because we were here in Jesus’ name offering hope and help to those families, we were apprehended and arrested,” Reeder said.
In an earlier Facebook post explaining what happened on Saturday, March 28, Love Life reported that prayer walkers who showed up near A Woman’s Choice abortion clinic for their usual prayer vigil were told to leave and threatened with arrest. Reeder and its lawyer went to Greensboro to provide additional support and to try to explain that as a religious non-profit providing social services, the organization is permitted to continue its ministry. Nonetheless, shortly after they arrived, Reeder, Jason Oesterreich, 42, of Locust, and Isaiah Burner, 23, of Statesville, were cited under the stay-at-home order, according to media reports.
On Monday, those three, as well as André Gonzalez, 42, of Mooresville, Richard Whittier, 46, of Mint Hill, Leroy Stokes Jr., 58, of Greensboro, and John Mcatee, 56, of Mint Hill were again detained.
“Deitrich Bonhoeffer said stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. What law enforcement did, in this case, was demonstrative of both stupidity and malice,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Abortion clinics in North Carolina see between 25 and 40 patients every day. That is considerably more people than the Governor’s executive order, which allows no more than ten people gathered in one place. And it is certainly more people than seven persons who traveled to an abortion clinic or seven who were praying on a sidewalk, also observing social distancing. I believe to interpret the Governor’s executive order with this kind of heavy hand was nothing less than the best in Barney Fifedom, not to mention the egregious infringement on both their constitutional and religious rights.”
“I don’t mean to be disrespectful to law enforcement. My son is a cop, and a good one at that! I have a profound respect for law enforcement. But as Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law,’ and no policeman, no deputy, should be required or expected to enforce the Governor’s order the way those officers did.”
Similarly, the Love Life prayer walkers who stood quietly praying on private property near the abortion clinic assured officers that they meant no disrespect, but simply had to obey God’s law over man’s. They said as long as abortion clinics remain open, the church must show up to give families a better option.
“I hold those who were arrested in high esteem for their convictions. They affirmed with a united voice the humanity of the preborn child, as well as the witness of hundreds of heroes throughout the ages who felt that they couldn’t shelter in place their outraged sense of injustice, even during a pandemic,” Creech said. “More people die in an abortion clinic every day in this country than will likely die in the whole state of North Carolina from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Visit this website to learn more about Love Life’s ongoing efforts to prayer walk individually during the COVID crisis. To better understand the call for Gov. Roy Cooper to shut down abortion clinics as he has all other non-essential surgery centers during the pandemic, see this article.