Rebuttal to Wichita Eagle’s Hit Pieces

Great distortions, revisionist history, and false impressions have abounded recently through local, state, and national media concerning the Summer of Justice event in Wichita. It was so bad that a rebuttal was necessary to send out. I would ask if any of you love truth, true history, and desire to see the record set straight, please pass this on in your sphere of influence. Thanks!

Press Release

July 14, 2016

For Immediate Release:

Setting the Record Straight

“The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17).

There have been many erroneous reports circulating in the media concerning the Operation Rescue National/Operation Save America’s National event in Wichita.

Twenty-five years ago during the “Summer of Mercy” a paradigm shift began in Wichita, Kansas, and our nation, to bring an end to abortion. “No greater love” was demonstrated as Christians laid down their lives to defend the preborn from harm. There are at least 96 twenty five year olds who are amongst us today due to the prayers and godly action taken by the Church. Fifteen years ago at the “Summer of Mercy Renewal” ORN/OSA built upon this foundation by loving their preborn neighbors as themselves. Eventually, Wichita became abortion free and peace returned to Wichita.

The city’s peace ended when two abortion mills reopened to defile Wichita once again. In response, this same group, ORN/OSA, returns to Wichita with their “Summer of Justice” campaign. What began twenty-five years ago, they hope to finish in the same spirit of prayerful, peaceful, intervention. They come as always to “plead the case of the fatherless to win it.” The vision and mission is clear. They call the church and the state to interpose on the behalf of innocent little baby boys and girls in the womb and save them from those who seek to destroy and deny their most fundamental right–the right to life.

Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas, National Director, Operation Rescue National/Operation Save America stated, “Two vital errors, mischaracterizations, and false impressions must be addressed. The first is to correct the revisionist history presented by Troy Newman. The second is to deal with the false narrative that our ministry is violent, dangerous, or a threat to anyone in this city, including those who commit atrocious crimes against defenseless babies in the name of choice.”

Local and national leaders will bring the light of truth to these vital issue.

What: Press Conference
Where: 825 East Douglas Ave., Wichita KS

Date: Friday July 15, 2016

Time: 11 AM

Contact: Rev. Rusty Thomas 254-715-3134 or to schedule interviews – Dr. Pat McEwen (321) 431-3962

www.operationsaveamerica.org

This is the letter sent to Senior Editor Jean Hays from the Wichita Eagle.

Dear Miss Jean,

The Lord richly bless you! Here is our rebuttal to the three articles that we believe left dangerous impressions in Wichita and beyond. With this rebuttal, we painstakingly seek to set the record straight. I ask that you issue retractions when and where these articles do not reflect the truth of our conduct and speech, that do not reflect the true history of Operation Rescue National/Operation Save America, and clarify my actual quotes.

The following is the letter of rebuke I sent to Gabriella. Notice in part of it that I commend Wichita Eagle as it relates to our fist interview. You all did a fine job.

IN KING JESUS’ SERVICE,

Rusty
Gabriella,

If your recent article is your modus operandi, we will not be meeting on Thursday. It was hope against hope that the media would be faithful to tell the truth, instead of giving free propaganda time to the abortion industry. The same tired old template over and over again. The abortion industry is scared, heightened security, pro-life violence, ad nauseam.

This passes as objective reporting? One side, (pro-abortion) they are the sane, rational, calm, and reasonable people. They have all these wonderful attributes while tearing babies apart limb from limb and selling their baby parts. That last part was not in your article as I recall. I wonder why? Would that be spreading misinformation (like you did to us) or would that be too much truth to handle? The other side, (OSA) the ones actually trying to save lives, their only representation in the article comes from quotes I gave you coming out of the mouth of Julie Burkhart, the owner of South Wind abortion mill. Of course, she took it out of context and misapplied it.

The first article the Eagle did when we came into Wichita was a class act. The reporters did well. They accurately quoted us with none of the usual spin. Unfortunately, they found in you the typical reporter when it come to this battle for the souls of men, the lives of children, and the future of our broken and wounded land.

Gabrielle, I suspected you were probably pro-abortion, but I hoped that you had some integrity. Your article was nothing more than a hit piece that didn’t even try to appear objective. If the Eagle wants to do more interviews, I would need to talk with a reporter with a little more objectivity.

IN KING JESUS’ SERVICE,

Rusty Lee Thomas
National Director, Operation Save America

Operation Rescue National/Operation Save America’s
Response to the Wichita Eagle’s Hit Piece

Since the Wichita Eagle reminded the city of 1991’s Summer of Mercy, we thought we would remind the Wichita Eagle of something too.

Namely, the truth.

“The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics” is an unbiased barometer of the integrity of news reporting. According to SPJ, the “Code of Ethics is voluntarily embraced by thousands of journalists, regardless of place or platform, and is widely used in newsrooms and classrooms as a guide for ethical behavior” (see Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, https://www.spj.org/pdf/ethicscode.pdf).

We have the “Code of Ethics” in bold text so as to allow careful judgment of the Wichita Eagle’s reporting of Operation Rescue National/Operation Save America. It is important to note that Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas, National Director of ORN/OSA consented to multiple phone interviews (consisting of hours of material for publication) with Wichita Eagle “Local” reporter, Gabriella Dunn. The highlighted text reveals Wichita Eagle’s defamation of ORN/OSA.

It’s important to note, the Wichita Eagle failed to “test the accuracy of information” contained in its three concurrent articles published on July 10. These articles were “Wichita Clinics to be Open with Increased Security During Week of Heightened Anti-abortion Protests,” “Law enforcement prepares for hundreds of anti-abortion protesters with ‘Summer of Justice,'” and “Prayer the Main Preparation for Summer of Justice Organizers.”

The return of ORN/OSA to Wichita for our anniversary of the Summer of Mercy was the underlying focus of each of the three articles Yet, ORN/OSA was not provided an opportunity to rebut the serious charges- threats, violence, and domestic terrorism- implicit in each article.

Members of ORN/OSA national leadership; media spokesperson, Pat McEwen; and National Director, Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas were not afforded an opportunity to respond to the slanderous charges and false claims made by abortion supporters and others, like Troy Newman of Operation Rescue West, an off shoot of the larger and original Operation Rescue National.

“Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.”

ORN/OSA and Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas, National Director of ORN/OSA were not given the opportunity to respond to allegations of violence, threats, and domestic terrorism within the three articles.

In “Wichita Clinics to be Open with Increased Security During Week of Heightened Anti-abortion Protests,” paragraphs 26-30 read:

Much of the 1991 protests centered on what’s now South Wind, which was then owned by George Tiller, a physician who performed late-term abortions and was shot to death at his church in 2009.

The clinic was firebombed in 1986, and in 1993 Tiller was shot and wounded outside the clinic.

Officials with Operation Save America have said they want to put an end to what they started in 1991.[OSA has a history of nonviolence. Although this is not a quote from Rusty Thomas or OSA, the reporter attributes this statement to OSA, in the context of violence.]

Burkhart said she finds that phrase unsettling. Rather than answering to man-made laws, Burkhart said, “they somehow answer to a higher power, and what they do, in terms of advocating violence [OSA does not advocate violence], is somehow acceptable,” she said.

Taken in context with paragraphs 32, 33, 34 reporter, Gabriella Dunn inferred OSA is a terrorist organization.

He [Corey Swertfager, president of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Wichita] said he and other volunteers will look for any erratic behavior [from OSA participants].

I applaud people for having strong convictions,” he said. He went on to add, “[referring to OSA] it’s one thing to have First Amendment rights, but it’s another to make people fearful of their lives. It’s an act of certain domestic terrorism.

The vast majority of people that are protesting these abortions are doing it out of the goodness of their heart, and I appreciate that. But what happens is, as that becomes normalized, [still in context of OSA visiting Wichita] the fire of radicals then feel like they have the right to antagonize people to the point of fear, and even the point of death.

Additionally, in “Law enforcement prepares for hundreds of anti-abortion protesters with ‘Summer of Justice” we read the same slander. Again, we are not provided the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.

For this year’s reunion, ‘Summer of Justice’ protesters will be able to carry signs, chant, sing hymns, distribute literature and shout as part of their First Amendment protected rights. But they won’t be able to threaten people [ORN/OSA does not engage in threats] or block access to the clinic.

In paragraph 3 of “Prayer the Main Preparation for Summer of Justice Organizers,” a person unaffiliated with ORN/OSA makes the outrageous claim that we are extremists advocating justifiable homicide.

The group that organized the original “Summer of Mercy” is distancing itself from this protest. Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, says he will not participate and has concerns about the organization’s extremism. He noted that one of the speakers for the Wichita rally had signed a statement saying that killing an abortion doctor is justifiable homicide.

Again, no opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing. Instead, three short sentences later, you quote Rev. Thomas as saying, “I pray what God began in 1991, he’s going to complete in in 2016,” without offering context. The statement reads as though Rev. Thomas and ORN/OSA supports justifiable homicide and are, in fact, guilty of extremism.

In paragraph 22Newman is quoted as saying, “the group doesn’t have the extent of support garnered in the original ‘Summer of Mercy,’ ‘and I believe that’s due to their extremism.”

Moreover, Newman claimed Trewhella “praised the murder of (Wichita abortion doctor) George Tiller, and for that reason alone, I want nothing to do with it.”

Was ORN/OSA or Rev. Thomas given a chance to reply to these additional published allegations? No.

Yes, Rev. Thomas was interviewed by Ms. Dunn. However, he was never questioned about the allegations that your newspaper later published. As the object of slander, Rev. Thomas or a representative from ORN/OSA should have been given an opportunity to refute the accusations. But it is impossible to refute something of which you were never made aware. Yet the Wichita Eagle would have us believe this is objective reporting?

“Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources’ reliability.”

Paragraph 8 of “Wichita Clinics to be Open with Increased Security During Week of Heightened Anti-abortion Protests” reads:

David S. Cohen, co-author of “Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism” will read from the book which chronicles violence among the anti-abortion movement, some of which focuses on events in Wichita. Burkhart was interviewed for the book.

In context with the discussion of ORN/OSA “Summer of Justice,” this infers that we are the instigators of violence.

The article does not mention that the author, David S. Cohen, is a board member of Abortion Care Network, an organization of independent abortion care providers whose mission is to support “the work of independent abortion care providers while encouraging the training of the next generation” of abortionists.

The author’s connection to the abortion industry was not disclosed. If it had been, the inflammatory title of the book could be weighed against the obvious bias of the author.

“Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.”

In the same article, “Wichita Clinics to be Open with Increased Security During Week of Heightened Anti-abortion Protests,” the boldfaced caption reads, “I applaud people for having strong convictions. It’s one thing to have First Amendment rights, but it’s another to make people fearful of their lives. It’s an act of certain domestic terrorism”

In “Prayer the Main Preparation for Summer of Justice Organizers,” the boldfaced caption reads, “The group [ORN/OSA] has also been associated with picketing homosexual gay bars.”

A little fact checking would have shown, we are, in fact, Operation Rescue National. We are the ministry which organized the original Summer of Mercy in 1991. It would have also shown ORN/OSA does not picket homosexual bars. This was a purposely dangerous quote to add to the story, since the terroristic attack against a “gay bar” in Orlando is still fresh in people’s minds. However, ORN/OSA does unashamedly preach the Gospel at “Gay Pride” parades. Why, because we love homosexuals and do not want to see them die in their sin.

Another boldfaced caption in “Prayer the Main Preparation for Summer of Justice Organizers” reads, “We are living in a world where we live for sex, will kill for sex and will die for sex.” Taken out of context and placed within an article accusing ORN/OSA of extremism and advocating justifiable homicide [neither are true], Rev. Thomas quotes sound like a veiled threat of violence.

The quote conveniently left out Rev. Thomas’ qualifier. His point was that in America we will kill for sex/abortion and we will die for sex/sexually transmitted disease and HIV. It was couched within a larger context of immorality.

“Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error.”

The inaccuracies reported by the Wichita Eagle could have easily been avoided had the reporter verified her facts with ORN/OSA.

ORN/OSA is not planning a “Voice of Thunder March.” It is planning a “Summer of Justice March.”

Interestingly, Rev. Thomas was not quoted as much as attributed to having made a statement. That is far different then a quote. And when he was quoted, he was taken cruelly out of context to leave false impressions on the mind of readers.

Rev. Thomas was not given the opportunity to clarify the historical and factual identity of Operation Rescue National/Operation Save America. This led to the factually inaccurate reporting, making it appear Operation Rescue National/Operation Save America

1) Did not organize the original Summer of Mercy in 1991, when in fact we did.
2) That Troy Newman (an individual who was not the National Director of Operation Rescue National, a leader in ORN/OSA, or in any way part of the original “Summer of Mercy” organizing team) was the architect of the 1991 “Summer of Mercy,” when he was not.
3) That ORN/OSA is a new organization, when in fact we are the original, unchanged ministry begun by Randall Terry, passed to Rev. Keith Tucci, passed to Rev. Flip Benham, and finally passed to Rev. Rusty Thomas. Rev. Thomas is the National Director of what has always been Operation Rescue National.

“Deliberate distortion is never permissible.”

In each article, gross inaccuracies and historical revisionism was presented as truth. Rev. Thomas never referred to “constitutional morality as ‘magic fairy dust’.” What is constitutional morality anyway? This is closer to his statement, “When it came to the Constitution, the plain text says no person should be deprived of life, without the due process of law. The judges who decided Roe vs. Wade said they found the right of abortion in the penumbra of the Constitution. Somehow these judges found magic fairy dust emanating from the Constitution to make abortion legal. It will, however, never be lawful.”

Ms. Dunn reported, “Although the Bible says to obey laws, he [Thomas] said he obeys God in instances where religion and man-made laws conflict.” His full statement was, “When the laws of men, conflict with the Law of God, our Christian duty is clear we must obey God rather than man. That has been the heritage of the church for 2000 years.”

Worse, the Wichita Eagle failed to include Rev. Thomas’ in depth comments to Ms. Dunn. Rev. Thomas went to great lengths to provide easily verifiable facts regarding ORN/OSA’s history of peaceful, nonviolent ministry.

Rev. Thomas remembers explaining, “We [ORN/OSA] have a thirty year history of nonviolence. Each participant has to sign a nonviolence pledge. We have pastors and leaders to monitor the crowd to make sure no one dishonors the Lord in speech or conduct. We cannot become what we seek to end. The bible is clear on that. We over come evil by doing good.” Yet none of his comments made it in to the Wichita Eagle’s three articles. We can only assume this is a “deliberate distortion.”

The Wichita Eagle’s deliberate distortion has left a dangerous impression in the mind of its readers. This distortion has endangered the participants of the “Summer of Justice,” many of whom are women, children and the elderly. Our members are threatened with death or bodily harm on a regular basis, experience bullying and physical abuse, suffer vandalism and theft of property, and endure defamation of character all as the result of sloppy journalism or personal bias on the part of reporters or a media outlet.

In addition to prejudicing your readers and slandering the reputation of a national Christian ministry, the Wichita Eagle has put our participants at risk. You presented us as violent domestic terrorists who picket homosexual bars and then provided the location and schedule of all our ministry outreaches and the church we will be attending during the evenings. If we do experience acts of violence or criminality directed against us, we will consider legal action. Again, fact checking could have avoided this dangerous outcome.

We will give you this. Although ORN/OSA is accustomed to biased reporting, scandal-mongering, and yellow journalism, twenty charges of violent extremism in one day, in one newspaper, is a new record.

Since libel is a “published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation” or “a written defamation” we thought it important to pass on your published comments regarding Pastor Matt Trewhella, directly to him. You neglected to contact him before the article was printed, so we hope you find this helpful.

Finally, if the Wichita Eagle found responsible journalism and professional integrity too burdensome, a simple quote from our public vision statement would have at least given the impression of balanced reporting. Since the Wichita Eagle did not find researching our vision statement worthy of its time, we have sacrificed the three minutes it took to provide it for you.

Consider this our last comment.

Vision Statement
Operation Rescue National/Operation Save America

Operation Rescue/Operation Save America unashamedly takes up the cause of preborn children in the name of Jesus Christ. We employ only biblical principles. The Bible is our foundation; the Cross of Christ our strategy; the repentance of the Church our ultimate goal.

As the Church changes its heart toward unborn children, God Himself will hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and bring healing to our land.

We believe Jesus Christ is the only answer to the abortion holocaust. It is upon our active repentance in the streets of our cities that the Gospel is visibly lived out. We become to the church, to our city, and to our nation living parables which rightly represent God’s heart toward His helpless children.

There are no cheap political solutions to the abortion holocaust. Like child sacrifice, infanticide, and slavery before it, abortion is a Gospel issue. The Cross of Christ is the only solution.

Abortion will end, when the Church of Jesus Christ decides it will end. Not one second sooner.

www.operationsaveamerica.org

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