How far the mighty warriors have fallen

I recently had an appointment with Planned Parenthood (formerly Essential Health Clinic) for a renewal of my birth control prescription. The one who renewed my prescription was a nurse practitioner that had worked for Essential Health Clinic and stayed on when the clinics that were still open were acquired in a merger with Planned Parenthood. I hadn’t seen her in over a year so we chatted a little bit. During the conversation, I learned some new information that gave me some perspective on a few things regarding our local antiabortion protesters.

If you read some of the first AAA posts from almost 5 years ago, you’ll read about two local antiabortion protesters nicknamed “The Pastor” (Pastor Samuel Faust) and “The Dicktator” (a very aggressive man by the name of Brian). To recap, they were the most active of our local antiabortion supporters in our community and they were in charge of the picketing outside my own clinic (which didn’t perform abortions) before it closed in 2018 due to funding issues. Pastor Faust led the Jackson County chapter for the Wisconsin Right to Life and Brian credits Pastor Faust as one of the reasons he and his family are the “warriors of Christ” they are today.

For the past year, the local chapter for the Wisconsin Right to Life hasn’t been active. They weren’t really active to begin with beyond a few prayer vigils and a bake/brat sale after the Essential Health Clinic closed in town, but their activities practically came to a standstill in 2020. Some of it could be explained with Covid-19, but that still didn’t explain some other things—mainly to do with Faust. The newspaper allows one letter per person every month and Faust wrote an antiabortion piece almost every month like clockwork, but the letters stopped after January of 2020. The library still got antiabortion materials stashed away in the cubbies in the entryway from time to time, but the drop offs weren’t as frequent. I saw his daughter shopping in the store I work at throughout 2020, but not Faust even though they frequently went into together. It’s like Faust dropped off the face of the Earth.

He didn’t drop off the face of the Earth, but was driven out of the church he was in charge of and went back to Iowa. The NP had read about it in a post Brian made about his “good friend” leaving, which stated, “Because of his standing on God’s Word and for truth, he lost his job.” I’ve heard a couple things from other people regarding Faust’s pastoring like going on a rant about Muslims and lesbians during a service involving veterans (either a Veteran’s Day service or a funeral service for a veteran) and kicking a devoted woman out of the congregation because she remarried after her husband died of cancer and the new husband wasn’t that into the faith. Both instances line up with conversations I had with Faust outside the old clinic. Without knowing the specifics of the situation, I can only assume the congregation finally saw how hateful his some views really were.

Without Faust, only Brian “The Dicktator” remains. I haven’t seen him since the clinic in town closed, but thanks to the constant anti-choice rantings on his public Facebook page I was well aware that he moved onto the clinic that was still open in Whitehall and then followed them when they moved to Blair following the Planned Parenthood merger. Yes, I admit I was Facebook stalking for a bit after the clinic closed, but I hadn’t been on his Facebook page in over a year at the time of my appointment. Therefore, I wasn’t aware that the NP had successfully gotten a restraining order against him sometime last year until I actually saw her, which I was able to confirm thanks to online court records and Brian making a big stink about having to go to court.

According to the NP, he was saying things like “I hope you don’t get hit by a drunk driver on your way home because your soul isn’t saved” and other offhandedly intimidating/threatening comments when she would leave for the night. Of course, Brian claimed on a post that she made false allegations, but (as far as I was told) at the actual court date he didn’t deny saying those things. He apparently tried to argue that he said those things because she works for an “abortion clinic” (which she doesn’t–the locations she works at doesn’t perform them) and as a “warrior of Christ” he is required to preach the gospel to those who aren’t right with Christ, citing that he’s protected by First Amendment rights. The judge ruled that going to someone’s workplace every day that they are there and saying threatening comments an attempt to intimidate them into quitting their job isn’t part of the right to protest—its harassment. Living up to his nickname of the Dicktator, he appealed because God forbid he can’t harass pro-choice healthcare workers and their patients, but the ruling didn’t change. He still feels like he was the one being wronged and that the judge thought that her “feeling bad” outweighed his First Amendment rights so he appealed a second time. The case has now been taken to Madison and he believes he will ultimately prevail, but from what I was told cases like this that reach the state level are rarely ever reversed and due to Covid-19 and other things it could be 24-36 months before they even look at it. It could be 2 or 3 years into a 4-year restraining order before it’s brought to a judge.

With the restraining order in place, Brian can’t come within 300 or 400 feet of NP and (by extension) her workplace. Barring him from stalking even one clinic would be great, but the glorious thing her workplace isn’t one clinic—it’s three. Back when the clinics were Essential Health Clinic, whenever she wasn’t at the main office she was working at one of the satellite clinics that were open once or twice a week. When Planned Parenthood acquired the three remaining EHC locations in the merger, this schedule did not change. Thus, our little Dicktator cannot jump to another location to harass patients and healthcare workers like he did when he could no longer picket the clinic in town due to its closure. This doesn’t stop him from going to other pro-choice reproductive healthcare clinics she doesn’t work at, but being in a rural area means there really aren’t any other options in the area. This is evident by the fact that when the clinic in town closed Brian had to travel half an hour to get to another reproductive healthcare clinic, which happened to be another EHC location. With this restraining order, his ability to harass patients and staff are greatly reduced since in this area there aren’t other clinics like the Planned Parenthood he was picketing except other Planned Parenthood locations the healthcare worker who has a restraining order against him works at.

I find the whole situation ironic considering he celebrated the closing of the clinic in town and stated that women would have to go to a different clinic—now he seems to be having trouble finding another clinic for his own purposes.

That hasn’t stopped his wife and daughters from picketing the Blair clinic the one day a week it is open. There isn’t a restraining order against them because they’re nothing like the incredibly rude and aggressively zealous bullying family patriarch. Whenever I had seen them at the old clinic, they would hold up their signs quietly and rarely engaged with others besides other people they were picketing with. When they did talk, it was never unkind.  I was told sometimes they are able to get another person or two to join them nowadays, but these people are just as shy as the women in Brian’s family (if not more) so they either don’t last long or they picket irregularly.

As much as I disagree with Brian’s viewpoint, there is one thing he does make a point on. He often notes there are many Christians—“30 pastors, 100+ elders, and a couple thousand professing Christians” to be exact—but that most of them betray “God, the Gospel, their unborn neighbors, their congregations, and their families” and that there are only a few obedient followers that are on the narrow path towards God. Many of his posts criticize the other Christians of our community for not doing much (if anything) for the “unborn neighbors”. He’s noted that many that claim to be anti-abortion Christians show up for the annual anti-abortion vigil on the bridge that Faust had started, but then ignore “the actual slaughter” the rest of the year. He refers to these types of Christians as “false Christians”, “Sunday morning Christians”, or “Christmas Christian” because, from his standpoint, they only show up once in a while when it suits them just like people who show up for church every Sunday and then ignore the gospel the rest of the week. He’s not wrong: I’ve also observed there aren’t many anti-abortion Christians in the area that are invested in anti-abortion activities outside the Life Chain and maybe a few occasional vigils. Now that Faust is out of the state and the restraining order greatly prevents Brian from protesting most of the local clinics in the area, I realize just how weak the local anti-abortion movement really is. Faust and Brian were doing a bulk of the protesting and leading the anti-abortion activities. Losing just Faust was probably already a huge enough loss for the local movement as his nice guy façade and having a congregation possibly meant he could recruit more people to join them whereas Brian is so extreme that he puts off other Christians, especially newcomers to the anti-abortion movement. Without either of them, all that’s left are pro-life Christians that are too timid to engage with patients at clinics or only participate in annual anti-abortion activities where they don’t have to confront anyone beyond holding a graphic sign.

From the anti-abortion perspective, it’s a massive blow to the local anti-abortion movement. As a pro-choice supporter who is a patient of the clinics they targeted, I view it as karma for years of them harassing and vilifying patients (including myself) to the point some would sneak in and out the back door, spreading lies about the clinic’s services (among other things), telling women they were going to Hell, and praising God for the closure of the clinic in town while still having the audacity to claim they care about people when many of the people they were attempting to reach out to lost their trusted healthcare provider. I do not feel sorry for them. Am I supposed to sorry for those who harass patients and healthcare workers under the guise of caring for human life? Why should I lament the movement’s loss of Faust, who led the attacks against reproductive healthcare clinics in the area including the one I went to for birth control so I don’t have an abortion? Why should I feel sorry for Brian, who acts arrogantly superior to everyone else because of his faith and has belittled me to my face as well others? If anything, I feel relief that Faust is gone, Brian cannot march in front of the local Planned Parenthood locations like a little soldier, and the local antiabortion movement has been diminished. Hopefully it stays that way for a while.