Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue and veteran of extremist anti-abortion protests and federal prison, had a new target this week – his old friend Pat Robertson. While many Religious Right figures slammed Robertson for his endorsement of Rudy Giuliani, Terry’s was in its own rhetorical league, blasting Robertson for having been “seduced” by Giuliani’s “hypocritical and seductive evil.”
So we looked for a high-energy event when Terry announced he would protest outside the Washington, D.C. bureau of Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network on Saturday. A Friday release announced a move from the originally planned protest at CBN headquarters in Virginia beach “because a number of young people and college students in the DC area wanted to participate.”
That “number” was apparently in single digits. When the protest got going, Terry was joined by only three others holding anti-Giuliani signs (with devil horns and tail drawn on the G), though the number was up to half a dozen by the time we left.
With no reporters in sight, Terry was happy to speak with us. He called Robertson’s embrace of Giuliani “heartbreaking” and bemoaned what he called the lack of strong voices to replace a passing generation of leaders. He described “the four horsemen” of the Religious Right as Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and D. James Kennedy. Two of them are now dead, and one has “lost his way.” Randall is waiting to see if Dobson, who finds Giuliani utterly unacceptable, will take on Robertson directly.
Terry can’t say enough bad things about Giuliani — “Mayor Beelzebronx” – or Republican candidates who have welcomed Giuliani’s fundraising help (“a down payment for hush money”). He decried conservative politicians who had been “johns” to Giuliani’s “prostitution” and now were unable to call him on his unacceptable positions. Like Dobson and the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, Terry dismissed Giuliani’s pledge to appoint more Supreme Court justices in the mold of Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito, suggesting it wasn’t to be believed.
If the anemic protest at CBN was any indication, Terry doesn’t command much of a following these days, but he made it clear that if Giuliani is the nominee, he’ll be part of any campaign to throw Religious Right support to a third party. He said he understands that “the Religious Right in particular is possessed by a hatred for the Clintons,” but believes that a Clinton presidency would be less damaging for the movement than a Giuliani victory, which “would be like throwing a frag bomb in the Religious Right.”
Terry, a recent convert to Catholicism, is hoping to influence the election in another way. He handed us hot off the presses a 40-page booklet designed to prod U.S. Catholic Bishops, meeting in Baltimore November 12-15, to ratchet up the church’s opposition to legalized abortion. To church leaders he believes have not done enough to make abortion criminal he is alternately condemning (“there is blood on our hands”), taunting (“Who runs the Church? Bishops or Lawyers?”) and pleading, urging them to conquer their fear, accept bad press and potential loss of tax status, and insist that “no Christian may in good conscience vote for any candidate, from any party, for any office, if that candidate supports the killing of children.”