With the Supreme Court decision out now regarding Roe v. Wade and abortion rights, tensions are high. There have been many outright threats against pro-life ministries. Several pregnancy resource centers have been vandalized with threatening graffiti. Every sidewalk counselor has seen an uptick in aggression and anger from the pro-abortion crowd.
How do we stay safe in these tumultuous times?
Do not be the source of escalating emotions
First, we are called to be peaceable. We are commanded not to quarrel. We are to return anger with soft answers. We cannot be taunted or tempted to violence, anger, or aggression. Now more than ever we must remember the Biblical warning that any fool can start a quarrel. Our message is hated because our God is hated by the enemy of our soul. Nonetheless, we are to deliver that message with love and kindness and humility.
Remind those in opposition of our joint humanity
It is harder for those who oppose our message to actually harm us if they find us to be gentle, kind and likable. Smiling and greeting the pro-abortion crowd as we gather on the sidewalk can remind them we are NICE people. Asking how they are doing or sharing a little about our day of common human experiences can disarm aggression. Asking about their families or their day takes the focus off of us as enemies. Even sharing struggles (like arthritis flare-ups) can evoke sympathy and humanize us as fellow strugglers in life.
Report any aggression however minor to police
If the pro-abortion crowd senses we will take no action, aggression tends to escalate quickly. Do not threaten or warn, but at the moment they touch us or threaten us, call the police. Make it very obvious that is what you are doing. Team members should have phones out and record any aggression.
If police ask what you would like to do when they arrive on the scene, always insist on pressing charges. The police are often hesitant to take action if there is no outright injury or danger. However, if the pro-abortion group senses we will back down when the police back down, we put ourselves in increased danger of escalation of threats.
Contact local police to request at least an officer present each day
Be proactive. With the Supreme Court decision, we know there will be intense anger from the forces of evil. Contact local police now asking for police presence at every abortion center at the moment any decision is rendered.
Praying and Fasting
Be prayed up, spiritual armor, prayer coverage.
Camera always going
Have a camera on a car or somewhere near focused on main points of interaction. Bodycams are NOT a great idea. They limit the evidence to only what happens right in front of you. However, now more than ever, a visible camera is needed as evidence, and also to deter violence.
If you see a gun, call police
This is simple and necessary. Never second guess the need to call the police if a gun is seen at any time. Also: Discover local laws regarding personal protection such as mace, and, if legal, consider carrying it.
If possible, have men on the sidewalk
We have found the presence of a man tends to keep the situation from becoming worse. This is ONLY true if the male presence is one who is calm, not provoking, not argumentative, and not defensive. I have seen many potentially dangerous encounters de-escalate when a man quietly steps between me and the angry person. He is often most effective when he says nothing, but makes it clear he will be a barrier to any attacks on the team.
If threats are serious, consider armed security
There have been (rare) times in the past when the threats are severe enough that I feel for the safety of our teams, we need professional security. The mere presence of security personnel can deter aggression. The reality and downside is that paid security is expensive. It is possible a church might be willing to shoulder that expense, or send their own security teams to the sidewalks.
Never minister alone
This is true all the time, but especially important during high tension times such as the current one with the Supreme Court imminent decision. A larger team whenever possible is a safer team. There is safety in numbers.
If direct threats or violence occurs, LEAVE
Do not put yourself or your teammates in danger. There may be times when it is wisdom to leave the sidewalk. While we do not want to back off from our calling, we do want to be able to continue the battle another day. That won’t happen if we are physically harmed by the enemy.
Use social media to your advantage
Take photos and videos of the violent or aggressive tactics of the pro-abortion crowd. Exposing the darkness of their actions can help promote public outcry against not only their action, but against the evil abortion industry itself.
Use Scripture to help any other pro-life groups de-escalate
A gentle answer turns away wrath. Any fool can provoke a quarrel.
Remember, the Lord is sovereign! Do not live in a spirit of fear.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23)
“Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I beseech You, save my life!” Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul, For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. For You have rescued my soul from death, My eyes from tears, My feet from stumbling. I shall walk before the Lord In the land of the living. I believed when I said, “I am greatly afflicted.” I said in my alarm, “All men are liars.” Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His godly ones.” (Psalm 116:4-11, 15)
Glorify the Lord in all we do out there.
“according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:20-21)