The following comes from a January 31 posting on Fossey Faithbook.
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 Zacchaeus 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).
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.
From the Los Angeles Times account:
Grogan, who is back in Los Angeles this week, said he sees civil disobedience as a way to draw attention to the antiabortion cause. When not protesting, he said, he runs the New Beginnings Christian Discipleship out of his home, which also serves as a boarding house, near the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Grogan, who said he was holding an antiabortion sign while up the tree, refused police orders to climb down, climbing higher after the fire department arrived with ladders. He was “jeopardizing his own life and the life of others if the tree branch he was on had broken,” a police report said.
As it was, some branches broke off, authorities said, contributing to a charge of destroying government property.
“The suspect remained in the tree and continually yelled during the entire inauguration,” according to the police report. After the swearing-in, Grogan climbed down and was arrested, police said.
To read the entire Fossey posting, click here,