Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Catholic Salute to a California Preacher Who Climbed a Tree to Protest Abortion

All of us who attended Protestant Sunday schools remember the story of Zacchaeus, a wealthy tax collector and a man of short stature, who climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus.  When Jesus saw Zacchaeus perched high in the tree, he called out to him: "Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your home."

I thought of Zacchaues while I was reading the Washington Post account of Rives Grogan, a 47-year old California pastor, who was arrested in the District of Columbia for climbing a tree near the Capitol reflecting pool to protest legalized abortions during President Obama's inauguration ceremony (Hermann, 2013).

Rives Grogan: Antiabortion Protester from California
Photo Credit: Drew Angerer, Getty Images & Los Angeles Times
Mr. Grogan had been arrested before in the District of Columbia for his protest activities, and Judge Karen Howze, a local magistrate, banished him from the District. 

The Washington Post, to its credit, said Judge Howze went too far.  "[I]t is almost unheard of for courts to banish individuals from states and localities," the Post noted (Editorial, 2013).  After all, Americans have a constitutional right to travel.

Like millions of Catholic Americans, I oppose abortion; but I'm not willing to do much about it. I am certainly unwilling to get arrested for climbing a tree to shout my protest during President Obama's inauguration.

But Mr. Grogan, apparently not a Catholic, is willing to endure criminal prosecution and  even banishment to protest legalized abortion. On this issue, as St. Paul put it, he is apparently willing to become a fool for Christ.

As Catholics, let us salute Mr. Grogan for his courage.  I feel sure that if Jesus had passed by and seen Mr. Grogan sitting in that District of Columbia tree, He would have given Mr. Grogan a blessing.


Editorial (2013, January 25). Banished: A D.C. judge overreaches with her sentence of an antibortion protester. Washington Post, p. A18.

Hermann, Peter (2013, January 22). Police charge tree-climbing inauguration protester. Washington Post.

Simon, Richard (2013, January 28). Antiabortion activist goes up a tree, is banned from D.C. Los Angeles Times.,0,7548342.story

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