Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Alan Keyes being arrested
Former presidential candidate and WND columnist Alan Keyes was arrested this afternoon, along with 21 others, on charges of trespassing while he was protesting against Barack Obama’s abortion record at the University of Notre Dame.
As WND reported, University President John Jenkins prompted national outrage when he invited the pro-abortion president to speak at the university’s May 17 commencement. Despite at least 55 bishops publicly denouncing or questioning the university’s decision, Jenkins has refused to rescind the offer.
“I will step foot on the Notre Dame campus to lift up the standard that protects the life of the innocent children of this and every generation,” Keyes said in a statement prior to his arrest. “I will do it all day and every day from now until the Master comes if need be, though it means I shall be housed every day in the prison house of lies and injustice that Obama, Jenkins and their minions now mean to construct for those who will never be still and silent in the face of their mockery of God and justice, their celebration of evil.”
Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry, who made headlines last week after he was arrested for pushing a stroller carrying a doll covered in fake blood on the Notre Dame campus, witnessed the arrest.
“Keyes and 21 people with strollers walked onto campus, praying,” Terry told WND. “The police grabbed them all and arrested them, but it was done very peacefully.”
Alan Keyes (center-left) amid protesters at Notre Dame
Nonetheless, Terry said, what’s happening at Notre Dame is infuriating.
“The outrage is that they were arrested by Notre Dame’s orders for defending babies; meanwhile Notre Dame is going to honor someone who kills babies,” Terry said, referring to Obama’s record on supporting abortion.
University spokesman Dennis Brown told the Chicago Breaking News Center that Keyes was given notice that university policy bans protests unless they are organized by student groups and approved in advance.
Brown further stated that university policy is to arrest anyone who refuses to leave campus after being notified.
“We’ve got a long established policy that only members of the university community can organize or lead a protest, and they have to be approved by our office of student affairs,” Brown said.
Sergeant Bill Redman of the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that those arrested were handcuffed and taken to the St. Joseph County Jail, held for trespassing on a $250 bond.
Prior to his arrest, Keyes had announced, “If this be trespass, then forgive us our trespasses and join us in trespassing until the South Bend jail is filled to overflowing with witnesses to truth; filled beyond capacity; filled until we break the most onerous shackles – the ones that bind the heart and mind to evil and our nation to the path of its destruction.”
Terry told WND that he believes Keyes and several of the 21 other protesters intend to remain in jail through the weekend. In fact, a witness from the jail told Terry that Keyes has been using his time behind bars to preach – for hours on end – to the inmates.
“Pro-life activism has been dying,” Terry said, “but this has given us a fresh line of defense to regroup.”
Now, Terry is urging others to follow Keyes’ example.
“We are asking people to come,” Terry said. “We want to have 50 or 100 people in jail next weekend, so that every time that the media discusses Obama speaking at Notre Dame, they talk about the fact that there are people in jail for protesting his appearance.”
Earlier, Terry told WND that he hoped the efforts would cause Obama to cancel his commencement appearance at the university.
“There would be no better witness to the world of the value of these babies – who Obama is even now slaughtering – than if there are hundreds of people sitting in jail,” Terry said.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, however, told reporters this afternoon that Obama had no plans to cancel the appearance or decline the honorary degree Notre Dame has offered him.
“We are honored to have received the invitation,” Gibbs said. “Notre Dame has a good history of robust, civic debate and the president looks forward to speaking to the graduating class.”
Terry nonetheless continues to promote a website called StopObamaNotreDame.com so others may join the protests.
“My goal, and my challenge to everyone, is to create such a political mud pit here that Obama chooses to not walk through it in order to speak,” he said. “The only way that’s going to happen is by massive social tension on the ground. That’s why these arrests are going to be so critical.”