As I mentioned in my last post about the protesters, there are two people that have been a mainstay to the demonstration outside my women’s clinic since the beginning. One, as the last blog post described, is a major dick with hardcore Christian views and preaches gospel like he’s a pastor.
The other protester actually is a pastor.
The Pastor runs the Countryside Evangelical Free church in Merrillan, WI. Besides demonstrating outside the local women’s clinic on Wednesday afternoons, he also is in charge of the Life Chain for Black River Falls, a nationwide event where pro-lifers stand outside for an hour in a line with anti-abortion signs “standing for life”. I eventually found out the Life Chain organization is where the group gets all their signs from.
I had the displeasure of meeting him during one of my first activist attempts when I still had no clue what I was doing. There was a story of a woman who got so fed up with anti-abortion protesters that she wrote a sign telling women that they are beautiful and not to listen to those assholes. It inspired me to create my own positive message sign and I ended up meeting The Pastor when I debuted it towards the end of May.
The whole experience was awful. For an hour and a half, I tried standing with a message of encouragement to the women who get harassed by these stupid, old men every week and ended up getting harassed myself. First, after introducing me to The Pastor, The Dicktator tried offering me another one of his cards. When I politely refused, he asked me “Are you literate? Can you read? If you can’t, I can read this to you.” The Pastor questioned me about my personal life and faith, which I had made the Dicktator believe were of a Satanist nature after he had called me ignorant three weeks beforehand. The Pastor tried to force feed me his beliefs while have little to no respect towards mine. I got the run around and excuses when I questioned the holes and contradictions their agenda. They both tried convincing me that they were “for women” and that if I was for women that I should hold one of their signs. It was non-stop noise with a protester questioning me through my right ear and listening to Otep blast out of the ear bud inserted into my left ear. I think the music in one ear is what kept me from having a panic attack with all the anxiety this social situation brought to me.
I went home feeling utterly defeated by the whole nerve wracking experience. I questioned whether I should continue standing up to a stubborn, unwavering enemy that was likely to insult me even further. The only thing I was sure about was that they did not care about women’s health or respecting women, their feelings, or personal lives. Also, that the Dicktator was a complete asshole.
Like the Dicktator, he’s preachy about the Christian faith and his pro-birth view, but without the outright aggressiveness and insults. Talking with The Pastor has always been a bit strange. He has an extremely polite tone when he speaks, but in a way that reminds me of how my co-workers behave when they’re dealing with a rude customer. I’d call it slightly passive aggressive hidden underneath a mountain of fake kindness. Because of this, I also call him the Stepford Wife.
I used to get in religious or abortion debates with him on a regular basis. Being that he’s a Pastor, I was always guaranteed to lose whether he was able to talk his way around the points I brought up or his stubbornness made him believe that he was right even when he didn’t have a proper answer.
The Pastor always holds a sign that says “Abortion Hurts Women”. The group’s cards say that a woman is likely to suffer from PTSD and engage in self-destructive activities as a result from her abortion. There hasn’t been a study that proves a definite link between abortion and mental illness. A more recent study had shown that most women—up to 95%—don’t regret their abortions. I don’t deny that there are women who do regret their decisions, but I also won’t deny the facts that tell me something different than what the protesters are feeding people. So I told him, “Studies show that *most* women *don’t* regret their abortions”. His response? “Well, who is going to admit that they regret something?”
The only reason I even bothered with these debates was that he would lose focus on preaching his anti-abortion view and being a general nuisance to the patients going in and out of the building to focus on me challenging him. Sometimes he’d even put down that damn sign of his. Eventually I ran out of things to talk about and it got tiring going around and around in circles every week.
Behind the fake politeness, there may be a darker side. I have heard some things about him that are not too flattering. A childhood friend explained she used to go to his church with her mom. The Pastor had apparently kicked out a loyal member of the congregation after she remarried following the death of her husband and the new husband was not very religious himself. A supporter of mine described going to one of his services at the church a Memorial Day service or a veteran’s funeral—I don’t remember which, but something involving the military—and the Pastor used it as a platform to say some pretty hateful things about gays and lesbians (and Muslims, if I recall correctly). It doesn’t surprise me that much considering the “take the Bible literally” nature of both the Dicktator and the Pastor.
He’s only dropped his Stepford Wife persona on one occasion. He reminded me of their annual Life Chain protest on the bridge the Wednesday before it happened so I set out to make a sign to counter protest them. When he read my sign that said “They’re not pro-life. You know what they are? They’re Anti-Woman!” (to quote the late George Carlin) he got short with me, made a comment I didn’t quite hear because I wasn’t paying attention and the top of the bridge was noisy, and stormed off in a huff. I had never gotten under his skin before so I found it to be delightful.
So for protesters we have an asshole who acts like a pastor and a pastor who may secretly be an asshole.