by Clara Schulz
Though devils all the world should fill,
All eager to devour us,
We tremble not, we fear no ill;
They shall not overpow’r us.
This world’s prince may still
Scowl fierce as he will,
He can harm us none.
He’s judged; the deed is done;
One little word can fell him.
(A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, v. 3)
“F*ck you, fascists! F*ck you! You motherf*ckers go home!”
Red colored spittle dribbled down the young man’s contorted face as he screamed and spit red liquid on women and children. Waving a sign that read F*ck you fascists! on one side and Stop killing trans babies on the other, his bulging eyes and red mouth made him look possessed by a demonic force.
The warm April sunshine beaming down on our prolife march belied the fact that we were about to enter a dark spiritual war zone. When our LCMS church planned to take two young ladies along with my children to this prolife event, none of us had any idea of how hostile the day would become. There was an inkling that we were going to encounter some counter-protests when, during one speech, another young man had ridden by on a bicycle screaming, “Jesus was an abortionist! Jesus loves abortion!” A brave woman called back to him, “You lie! And you are of your father Satan who lies!”
Until the Coalition Life group started walking though, there were not any more disruptions. This spitting young man now yelling obscenities at us was the first of what was about to be an onslaught. As he walked backward in front of us, screaming at the top of his lungs, four to five young men from our group created a barrier between him and the women and children who were holding the main banner.
A few blocks into the walk, my younger youth member standing in the front row turned back to me with round eyes. She grabbed the hands of my own children, who were walking next to her, and pulled them back to where I was walking. Her older sister looked up to see what was ahead. She whispered to me, “What do we do?”
Ahead of us, half a block away, a wall of people were blocking the street, holding a red sign that spanned the four lane road: Forced Birth is Fascism, it read, with a white sheet waving behind them, stating, Abortion Rights and Trans Rights Forever. Men and women, young and old, stood with faces covered behind bandanas, face masks, and ski masks. Each raised a fist in the air. A barricade of bicycles spanned the road so that we could not walk between the people holding the red sign. We were approaching a local sect of antifa.
I looked at the two young women with me and down at my children and said, “We keep walking.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the bicycle guy running along with a bucket of red paint. I told the girls that we might get paint on our clothing. The younger of the two flashed a smile and said, “Cool! That would be quite a souvenir to take home!” He threw the paint all over the road where we had to walk.
As we wrestled our way through the initial barricade of people—some of the prolife group going over to the sidewalk to circle around the antifa members while the older prolife men moved and turned the barricade of bicycles sideways so the families with strollers and wheelchairs could pass through—a mob of women came running up to us screaming into megaphones: “My body, my choice!” “Abortion is healthcare! Healthcare is a human right!” and more of “F*ck you, fascists!” They started jumping on the large prolife banner, trying to drag it down or be dragged along while hanging on to the front of it. Middle-aged prolife men took the banner from the women and children who had been holding it. They lifted the banner higher than the protestors could reach and carried the banner above their heads.
Now that we had broken through the initial barrier, I thought we would be left alone. I was wrong.
Antifa members jumped on their bicycles and began following us, trying to ride alongside with megaphones or get as close as they could to whomever was walking along the perimeter. Families with children and the elderly moved to the center of our group. A number of antifa men wound their way through, trying to start fights. Each time one of them entered, four or five of the prolife young men would surround them and keep walking forward to protect the women and children and create some separation. An older antifa woman on a bicycle fell over. Beside her, a prolife man pulled her off the ground and told her, “Jesus loves you. We love you too. God bless your day.”
The noise around us was deafening with megaphones and screaming. I began to murmur the Lord’s Prayer in an effort to restore internal calm and give my children something else to listen to.
Suddenly, behind me, I heard, A mighty fortress is our God, a trusty shield and weapon rising up from the LCMS group, a sea of green hats in the midst of the prolife march. I joined in: He helps us free from every need that hath us now o’ertaken. The noise around me was still clamorous, but the obscenities were no longer distinct. The old evil foe now means deadly woe; Deep guile and great might are his dread arms in fight; on earth is not his equal. Satan delights in death, especially the murder of children. Every pagan society has sacrificed their children. In our country, the unborn are sacrificed to the selfish god of “choice” and “individual rights.” Children are handed over to be mutilated and sterilized at the altar of “personal expression” and “gender identity.” … But for us fights the Valiant One Whom God Himself elected. Ask ye, Who is this? Jesus Christ it is, of Sabaoth Lord, and there’s none other God; He holds the field forever. Jesus was here, in the midst of us. He is the Lord of Life and the God of all creation. We were surrounded by angry people who had imbibed demonic teaching, but they shall not overpow’r us…He’s by our side upon the plain with His good gifts and Spirit. The cacophony of noise surrounding us was raging and angry, but a sense of calm and purpose descended.
The hymn ended. We were coming toward the end of the mile-long march. Another, larger group of angry counter-protestors was waiting. Our police escort dropped away because too many antifa members had congested the road. At the end of the street, the angry mob was standing with linked arms, blocking the sidewalk for us to reach the plaza underneath the Arch. This new group had more megaphones, more signs. Some had smeared red paint on their faces and scantily clad bodies. The obscenities were coming from all sides: “F*ck you, fascists!” “My body, my choice” “Go home, you motherf*cking Christians!” “Stop killing trans babies!” [To which one of the youth remarked with a touch of irony, “They do realize we’re trying to SAVE the babies, right?”] “Stop these f*cking Christian nationalists!” “Trans rights and abortion rights!” “Forced births is fascism!” etc.
From within the crowd of Lutherans, someone began reciting the Lord’s Prayer for others to join in: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy name … forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us… We funneled through the hostile linked arms—only three or four of us able to do so at a time—into the plaza. Deliver us from evil. We were ensnared by forty or so counter-protesters screaming at the top of their lungs.
I looked around at our prolife group, full of parents with children and babies, grandparents and the elderly, disabled adults with their caretakers, young adults in high school and college, all standing around bewildered and surrounded by a shrieking, angry mob. We had finally wrestled our way to our destination, but how were we to end this time together?
From the midst of the green LCMS hats, the strains of an Easter hymn wavered and then became stronger. Jesus Christ is ris’n today, alleluia! Joining in, I pointed to the back of my sign where hymns were printed so others could follow along: Our triumphant holy day, alleluia!
Absolute silence descended.
The screaming stopped. The yelling ceased. The shrieking vanished.
Hymns of praise then let us sing, alleluia! Unto Christ our heav’nly king, alleluia! We had no megaphones, but the hymn grew louder. Who endured the cross and grave, alleluia! Sinners to redeem and save, alleluia! The next stanza reverberated off the buildings in the plaza and echoed exultantly over our entire group. Now above the sky He’s king, alleluia! Where the angels ever sing, alleluia!
As the verses died away, a Lutheran pastor began to pray a litany. He prayed for all mothers pregnant with children. “Lord, have mercy.” He prayed for all women who have had an abortion and were hurting and grieving. “Lord, have mercy.” He prayed for all the people who had come to be a voice for the voiceless and a witness for life. “Lord, have mercy.” He prayed for all the people who were protesting against us. “Lord, have mercy.” He prayed a prayer of thankfulness for the promise of Easter, that Jesus’ death and resurrection are ours, and that Christ has conquered sin, death, and the devil. “Lord, have mercy. Amen.”
Another Lutheran pastor began the Doxology. Other Christians added their voices. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! Praise Him all creatures here below! Praise Him above ye heavenly host! Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Amen! The final notes rang out triumphantly, and a joyful cheer rose up.
The two young ladies reflected on their experiences as we sat on the grass. None of us had been expecting the vitriolic anger and hatred witnessed that day. We noticed some of the pastors stayed to talk to the counter-protestors, but how does one reason with a person screaming in your face with a megaphone? There was no interest in debate, only slogans shrieked over and over. That mob was seething in their own rage and hatred of the truth that we stood for. Despite moments of fear that morning, we were all glad to be part of that walk for life and see the immensity of what the prolife movement is still fighting for in protecting life from conception to natural death. The battleground is not just physical or emotional or mental, but also spiritual. With God on our side, we need not be afraid to speak the truth.
Walking back to our cars afterward, I had the opportunity to speak with an older Catholic gentleman and his family. This was the third march they had attended this year, but none of them had seen protests as intense as this one. He looked at the green hats we wore. “Thank you for what you folks did when you started singing and praying. We didn’t know what to do. But we are so thankful that you Lutherans were walking with us today. You helped restore calm and peace amidst all that chaos. Thank you.”
Dear fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, let this be an encouragement and exhortation. Take courage! We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). Our world is full of chaos, constantly under assault by the devil and his demons. Non-Christians and secular society hate you because you bear the name of Jesus (John 15:18-19; Matthew 10:21-22). Take heart! Our hope is in our Lord Jesus who has overcome this world (John 16:33). Arm yourselves with the Word of God, with prayer, with psalms, and with hymns so that you may be able to withstand in this current evil day (Ephesians 6:17; Ephesians 5:19; Ephesians 6:13). The Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrew 4:12), so wield Scripture, memorize it. Pray and sing, dear Christians! Even demons hear the name of Jesus, tremble, are silenced, and flee (Matthew 8:28-32; James 2:19). At the name of Jesus, every name in heaven, on earth, and under the earth bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11). We have nothing to fear because Jesus Christ is risen. Alleluia!
And take they our life,
Goods, fame, child, and wife,
Though these all be gone,
Our vict’ry has been won;
The Kingdom ours remaineth.
(A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, v. 4)