CHOICE/LESS – Marching Toward Gilead: The Rise of American Theocracy, Part I

Jenn Stanley & Sofia Resnick

Roy Moore lost, but barely. And his theocratic vision for the country lives on through Operation Save America (OSA), an organization committed to a United States in which abortion, homosexuality, Islam, and anything else its leadership considers “ungodly” is a criminal offense. In this two-part audio documentary, CHOICE/LESS host Jenn Stanley and Rewire investigative reporter Sofia Resnick team up to reveal the alarming ways OSA’s far-right ideology is worming its way into state and federal government. While often dismissed as a group of fringe extremists, OSA has a path to power–and even after Roy Moore’s loss, it’s farther along that path than you think.

This is Part I. Click here for Part II.

An edited excerpt from Part I:

Jenn Stanley: After the opening-night rally in Kentucky, we introduce ourselves to Rusty [Thomas]. … It was really loud in the church; it was packed from earlier that night. There were kids running around everywhere. So, we were really just looking for a quiet spot. But the only room open is the nursery. Rusty makes a comment that it’s fitting that we’re in the nursery, given that this is an interview on OSA’s attempt to close down the last [abortion] clinic in Kentucky.

But that’s only a fraction of what we talk about in that nursery.

The only chair for an adult is a rocking chair, and Rusty sits there. And Sofia and I sit in these desk chairs that were made for children no older than 5 or 6. So, we look a little ridiculous.

And Rusty starts by telling us his testimony, how he gets involved in the movement

Rusty Thomas: […] Honestly, I had murder in my heart. I was filled with rage. And when God intervened, right before he intervened I was literally plotting the murder of my mother.

Transcript (PDF)

U.S. Marshals monitor abortion protests outside Kentucky’s only abortion clinic on July 22, 2017, the first day of Operation Save America’s planned week of rallies and protests. On May 13, OSA members had blocked the clinic’s entrance and were later charged with violating the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.

Jenn Stanley/Rewire

Protesters from around the country gather at the Grace Community Church of the Nazarene in Louisville, Kentucky, for OSA’s national conference, For Such a Time as This, on July 22, 2017.

Jenn Stanley/Rewire

Operation Save America Director Rusty Thomas delivers an animated sermon at the Grace Community Church of the Nazarene in Louisville, Kentucky, for OSA’s national conference, For Such a Time as This, on July 23, 2017.

Jenn Stanley/Rewire

Rusty Thomas speaks outside the federal courthouse in Louisville, Kentucky, on the day of a hearing in the federal lawsuit USA v. Rusty Thomas, in which Thomas and other OSA members face felony charges for allegedly violating the FACE Act.

Jenn Stanley/Rewire

Abortion rights protesters dress as characters from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and counter-protest OSA outside the federal courthouse in Louisville, Kentucky, on July 24, 2017.

Jenn Stanley/Rewire