Lou Engle, founder of The Call and other charismatic intercessory prayer organizations, has a new target on the weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday: a forthcoming Planned Parenthood facility in Houston that he claims will practice eugenics because of its location in a predominantly black and Latino neighborhood.
“Houston, we have a problem,” Engle intones in a new “crisis” video on his web site. In the video, which is filled with his characteristic predictions of the earth-shattering impact of his prayer movement, he claims that an unspecified “they” are calling the clinic “an abortion super center.” But who is the they? Engle himself.
In unveiling its planned move to the new facility, Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas announced, “we look forward to serving the thousands of women and men in our area who are without health insurance and need affordable health care.” Never mind all that, though, and never mind all the unintended pregnancies the facility might prevent. For Engle, the facility will “target minorities for abortion.” Capitalizing on the symbolism of his planned protest for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, Engle insists his goal is empowerment of people downtrodden by the evil giant Planned Parenthood, and prophesying that “the minorities will actually have the voice to overturn this thing.”
The marquee names scheduled to participate in the protest include many of the same people who participated in the prayercast last month, co-sponsored by The Call and the Family Research Council, against health care reform: the Rev. Sam Rodriguez, Bishop Harry Jackson, and FRC’s Tony Perkins. (There, supporters of health care reform were compared to King Herod, who conspired to murder the baby Jesus; here, Planned Parenthood is accused of genocide.) Other scheduled partipants include the Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land and Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, in yet another sign of how the broader religious right cravenly seeks an alliance with blacks and Latinos, even as no one says peep about the John Birch Society co-sponsoring the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Wendy Wright, the president of Concerned Women for America who cut her teeth working for Operation Rescue, claimed in a statement, “once a pregnant woman walks through those doors, no unborn child — no matter how old — is safe from Planned Parenthood’s knives.” Wright also claimed that “government officials and Planned Parenthood plotted together to make Houston an abortion capital of the nation.”
Just a few weeks ago, health care reform apparently was the greatest moral threat to America. Two years ago, Engle pointed to Proposition 8 and other “Antichrist” legislation. The religious right claim about “black genocide” and abortion are nothing new. But making it the centerpiece of a protest at Planned Parenthood on King’s birthday shows just how intent Engle and his allies are about turning it into a “civil rights” issue.