The scene in Milwaukee’s Mecca Arena on August 7 reminded some observers of Old Testament references to the Israelites weeping and mourning in repentance. Led by more than 150 pastors on stage, and spurred by messages calling for Christian action against the city’s seven abortion clinics, a crowd of 10,000 participated in confession, contemporary worship, and spontaneous cries of repentance from their knees.

No representatives of the secular media were allowed in the three-hour meeting. But cameras and reporters showed up the next day at the Wisconsin Women’s Health Center where an estimated 4,000 people arrived to protest the clinic’s abortion services. Police arrested 546 people, including at least 80 children, as they attempted to block the clinic’s doors.

While the tactic may have looked familiar, the Milwaukee protest was framed in some new and different ways by Missionaries to the Preborn. Founded in September 1990 by Matt Trewhella of Milwaukee and Joseph Foreman of Atlanta (who is planning to move to Milwaukee), the group has recast the Operation Rescue (OR) philosophy of civil disobedience as a mission to unborn children.

Trewhella and his group have promoted in Milwaukee churches a concept of biblical “interposition” as a basis for rescuing, instead of labeling their efforts civil disobedience. They have circulated a flier citing several examples of “interposition” in the Bible, including the Israelites standing up for Jonathan when Saul threatened his life; Paul speaking on behalf of the slave Onesimus; and Christ interposing himself on humanity’s behalf. They also cite the church father Ambrose, who defied the Christian Emperor Theodosius by barring him from church until he repented of a public sin, and Revolutionary ...

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