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Letter to the White Rose Banquet, by Paul J. Hill

(This letter was read, in part, at a banquet honoring those incarcerated for defending the unborn)

December 22, 1997

To my friends and all the saints at the White Rose banquet: Greetings in the name of our Savior.

I trust the Lord is blessing and ministering to each of you and causing you to grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. To know Him is to know the way, the truth, and the life.

The Lord has been sustaining me in a wonderful way through your prayers and concern. By His grace I am becoming more productive in my writing. I would like to recount some of the things He has done through me since I began to consider taking "defensive action" myself.

Since I had such a high profile and was under such close scrutiny I had not seriously considered acting myself until one afternoon eight days before the shooting. I was touching up a car on a used car lot, [Ed: Hill's "day job" was a mobile repair service. I think he told me he repaired damaged upholstery.] wondering who would act next, when the idea of acting myself struck; it hit hard. During the next two or three hours, as I continued to work in a distracted manner, I began to consider what would happen if I were to shoot an abortionist. My eyes were opened to the enormous impact another such shooting in Pensacola would have.

The man who had previously shot an abortionist in Pensacola (Michael Griffin) had been dismissed as being mentally unbalanced, but I was a former Presbyterian minister who had publicly justified the shooting. Two days after the abortionist was killed, I had called the Donahue show and told them I supported the shooting. Three days later, I appeared on Donahue with the abortionist's son and compared killing the abortionist to killing a Nazi concentration camp "doctor". I then wrote a paper justifying the shooting, had an article published, and led numerous national pro-life leaders in signing a statement justifying the shooting. I subsequently appeared on ABC's Nightline and justified Shelly Shannon's shooting of an abortionist in Wichita Kansas.

As I considered shooting an abortionist myself, I realized that many people were still reeling from the previous shootings. A second punch in the same spot by a former Presbyterian minister could ultimately be used by God to knock abortion out of the ring.

I had previously become convinced that I had been entrusted with the proclamation of a truth upon which the lives of untold millions in this and every succeeding generation depend. I realized that incarnating the truth would serve to propagate it as nothing else could - especially in this instance. Having spoken the truth I needed to exemplify it. Enough had been said about abortion; action was long overdue.

All of the lines of reasoning that I had seen as justifying Michael Griffin's previous shooting of an abortionist converged in my mind as I considered acting myself. I was struck with the encouraging and inspiring influence such an example would have on the upright, and the terror it would bring to those involved in killing the unborn.

With some difficulty I finished my work that Thursday afternoon and went home. I continued to secretly consider the idea, half hoping it would not appear as plausible after I had given it more thought.

The next morning, Friday, as was my practice, I went to the abortion clinic. I arrived at about eight o'clock, the time that many of the mothers began arriving. I was usually the first protester there but that day another activist had arrived first. What was even more unusual was, after discrete questioning, I learned he had been there when the abortionist had arrived, about 7:30. More importantly, I discovered that the abortionist had arrived prior to the police security guard. This information was like a bright green light, signaling me on.

For months my wife had planned to take our children on a trip to visit my parents and to take my son to summer camp. She planned to leave that coming Wednesday morning and return the following week. I would have the remainder of that day and all of Thursday to prepare to act on Friday - eight days after the idea first struck me. All I had to do was hide my intentions from my wife for a few days until she left. If I did not act during her planned trip (since I could not have kept my feelings from her for long) she would almost certainly develop suspicions later and my plans would be spoiled for fear of implicating her. I could not hope for a better opportunity than the one immediately before me. God had opened a window of opportunity; it appeared I had been appointed to step through it.

Saturday afternoon, the second day after I began considering taking action, we went as a family to the beach. My wife, Karen, and I enjoyed the beach in the afternoon. We arrived a couple of hours before sundown; it was beautiful. No one was on the stretch of beach we chose. The sand was sugar-like and clean, the water clear with gentle incoming swells. It was the perfect end to a busy week and a hot day.

Our three children were delighted with the outing. My son was nine and my two daughters were six and three. We dug in the sand, splashed in the water, and walked along the edge. All the while I weighed my plans in my mind, being careful not to arouse suspicion. This was a heart rending experience. I doubted I would ever take my family to the beach like this again. I would be in prison, separated from my beautiful wife and children. The sight of them walking along the beach, so happy and serene, and the contrasting thought of being removed from them was startling, almost breathtaking.

I could not allow my emotions to show. To retain control I lifted my heart to God in praise and faith. As long as I responded to the pain in my chest with praise I could rise above it and still see things clearly - and what a strikingly beautiful sight it was. Somehow, responding to the stabbing pain with praise turned it to joy, a joy as clear and clean as the sand and sky.

As I lifted my heart and eyes upward I was reminded of God's promise to bless Abraham and grant him descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. I claimed that promise as my own and rejoiced with all my might, lest my eyes become clouded with tears and they betray me.

All my paternal instincts were stirred as I played with my children. They enjoyed their father's attention. I took them one by one, each in turn, into water over their heads as they clung to my neck. As I carried and supported each child in the water it was as though I was offering them to God as Abraham offered his son. I also admired the beauty and grace of my wife. (She is a remarkably fine and capable woman.) I knew that, by God's grace, she would be able to cope with my being incarcerated. But it was soul wrenching to think of being separated from her - though I knew our relationship would continue.

Though I would almost surely be removed from my precious family I knew God would somehow work everything out. I would not lose them, just be separated from them. The separation would be painful but the reward would be great, too great to fathom, it was simply accepted in faith.

After the sunset we brushed the sand from our things and walked back to the car. Neither Karen nor the children seemed alerted to anything. I enjoyed watching them through eyes unknown to them, like a man savoring his last supper.

I decided to suspend final judgment as to whether I would act until the upcoming Monday. After making my decision I would then have four days to prepare myself to act on Friday, the day abortions were performed. I sought the Lord's will in prayer and tried to consider all sides of the issue. I searched my mind and the Bible for all the principles I could bring to bear on the question. Much of this work had been done previously while writing a paper justifying the March `93 shooting of Dr. Gunn by Michael Griffin. It was now a question of the wise application of these principles. The evidence seemed overwhelming.

The decision was agonizing. I would be leaving my wife, children, home, and job, but I felt God had given me all I had that I might return it to Him. Nor was I unmindful of the impact this gift would have, or of the reward. I was also assured, from God's Word, that He would be a Father to my children and sustain my wife.

I had not moved to Pensacola for this purpose. I certainly had nothing to do with Michael Griffin shooting Dr. Gunn, or the previous Pensacola abortion clinic bombings on Christmas of 1984. I was not standing for my own ideas but God's truths, the same truths which have stopped blood baths and atrocities throughout history. Who was I to stand in God's way? He now held the door open and promised great blessing for obedience. Was I not to step through it?

When Monday arrived I knew I had to decide. When I went from debating whether to act, in general, to planning a particular act, I felt some relief. I felt that the Lord had placed in my hands a cup whose contents were difficult to swallow, but that it was a task that had to be borne.

The path lay before me; all signs pointed ahead. The only alternative was disobedience - neglect of the very worst kind - turning my back on a vast multitude as their lives were being brought to a cruel end.

This was unthinkable; I had no other choice. The apostle Paul wrote, "For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel" (1Cor. 9:16).

The Lord had called me and He showed the way. The providential interworking of circumstances which unfolded before me as I moved ahead were astounding. My task was to overcome the reluctance of the flesh by proceeding in faith. By His Spirit the fears that arose again and again, virtually all of which were ill-founded, were overcome.

But the morning of the shooting was not easy. Although I had gone to bed late I forced myself to rise about 4 A.M. to spend time in prayer and Bible reading. The strength I needed for the day was found in Psalm 91:

You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day; of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that lays waste at noon. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not approach you. You will only look on with your eyes, and see the recompense of the wicked. For you have made the Lord, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place.

I was fully determined to act, and yet the temptation still came to back out. The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak; I could not go on feelings as my flesh shrank from the task. My usual zest and the zeal I expected to feel were missing. My heart felt half dead within me - my stomach like an empty and bottomless pit. It did not occur to me at the time but I now wonder how Abraham felt as he walked up Mount Moriah to kill his son. Surely his heart was heavy, very heavy, and his blood ice cold - mine was.

While driving to the clinic I decided to drive past it first to see if everything looked normal. (I was concerned that someone may have become suspicious and called the police.) Just as I approached the clinic a police cruiser drove by me in the opposite direction. I forced my fears under control as I continued down the road. After driving about an eighth of a mile it was time to head back, but the truck did not want to turn around; it had to be forced. As hard as it was to turn around I knew I could not continue down the road. Obedience was the only option.

Several months prior to the day of the shooting Gentleman's Quarterly magazine had interviewed both the pro-life protesters and the pro-choice people who frequented the Ladies Center, including the abortionist. The extended piece GQ did on the abortionist and the threat of his being shot was published in February of `94.

I knew from having read this article that the abortionist and his escort were on guard and usually armed when entering the clinic. Jim Barret, an escort who took his turn driving the abortionist to the clinic, was described as being well armed. He was quoted as saying that, if threatened, he would shoot first and not miss. As it happened, in God's providence, he was the driver killed that day.

As I stood awaiting the abortionist's arrival, I was struggling in fervent prayer to maintain my resolution of heart. At the end, as the moment of his expected arrival approached, I was praying fervently that the police security would not arrive first. I could still find the heart to shoot the abortionist, but while I knew it would be justified to kill a policeman in order to stop the murderer he was protecting, I did not want to have to do it. I made a personal request to the Lord to spare me, and the policeman, if possible.

God heard my prayers and the abortionist arrived prior to the police guard. When I stepped out to shoot, two men were sitting in the front seats of the truck with Jim Barret, the escort, directly between me and the abortionist.

When I finished shooting I laid the shotgun at my feet and walked away with my hands held out at my sides, awaiting arrest. (I did not want to appear to be threatening anyone when the police arrived.)

I was relieved when they cuffed me. They correctly say I smiled at the policeman who ordered me under arrest with his drawn handgun. I did not want to be shot, and was glad to be safely in police custody. When they later led me to the squad car a small crowd had assembled. I spontaneously raised my voice, "One thing's for sure, no innocent people will be killed in that clinic today." I spoke what was on my mind. The abortionist had been prevented from killing about thirty innocent people, nor has he killed any since that day - as have other wounded abortionists who have returned to "work". The most unusual thing about that day was that the children survived to possibly work some other day, the one who intended to kill them did not.

At the police station a specially summoned plain clothed officer sat talking with me for two or three hours. He had sat similarly with Michael Griffin. Not wanting to aid those sworn to defend murder, I did not discuss what had just happened. It made little difference, however, since not intending to conceal my identity, I had left an abundance of evidence anyway.

The emotional impact of being separated from my family came upon me. My response to the crushing pain became more fervent as the pain increased; I lifted my heart to the Lord in praise and faith.

As I sat there talking I was not sure whether I had been totally successful. Eventually the prosecutor came and declared he was charging me with two counts of murder. I knew then I had accomplished my task. I continued to lift my heart to the Lord, thankful for success. I had not failed in my errand and He had not failed me. The Lord had done great things through me. A short time later, the arresting officer led me out of the police station and escorted me twenty yards to his squad car in front of a teeming mass of reporters and photographers. As I came out the door of the station, I seized the initiative and raised my voice in a carefully planned declaration: "Now is the time to defend the unborn in the same way you'd defend slaves about to be murdered!"

Soon I was alone in a large one man cell and could direct all my praise and thanks to the Lord. I repeatedly sang a song commonly used at rescues, "Our God is an Awesome God"; He is. The only way to handle the pain of being separated from my family was to never cease rejoicing in the Lord for all He had done.

You may wonder what it is like to have killed an abortionist and his escort. The faint of heart and those not firmly grounded in the truth could stumble under such a load. It was unpleasant for me to have to kill two human beings - even though one was a murderer and the other his accomplice. But the privilege of being used to save innocent children continues to change this unpleasantness into joy. What I did was extremely difficult, but the reward for having persevered is immeasurably great. Often the most unpleasant and difficult of tasks provide the greatest reward once the difficulties are overcome. In this instance, the burden of having killed as I did increases my joy for having done what was right. As long as I maintain a close walk with the Lord and view things from the perspective of His Word, far from accusing me, my conscience affirms me.

I can not escape my conscience any more than anyone else. And the more I reflect on my actions the more convinced I become that they were good and appropriate. If I had not acted when I did, my conscience would now condemn me of being guilty, not of the blood of an abortionist, but of the blood of the unborn. In all sincerity, I can say that if I had failed to act then, I could not look myself in the mirror now. Though men have judged and condemned me to death, as I stand before God in Christ, my conscience is not only clear, it positively affirms me for my actions.

Although I did not fully understand the meaning of the emotions I was experiencing then, I understand them better now. Much of the joy I felt after shooting the abortionist, and still feel today, is the joy of having freely obeyed Christ after long being enslaved to fearful obedience to men.

I well remember (prior to the shooting) the oppressive feeling of realizing that I was not free to defend my neighbors as Christ requires. Wrath was ready to be poured out on me if I cast off the shackles of passive submission to the State. The fear of being persecuted for disobeying our tyrannical government made submitting to its yoke seem attractive. My mind and will recoiled from the high cost of acting responsibly. It required an act of the will to even consider obeying the Lord.

The inner joy and peace that have flooded my soul since I have cast off the State's tyranny makes my little cell a triumphant and newly liberated kingdom. I shutter at the thought of ever returning to the oppressive bondage currently enforced by the State.

Several days after my arrest, when the prosecution announced they were seeking the death penalty, my response was to welcome the heightened threat. I was not inclined to resist their persecution, rather I embraced it. I am convinced that I can save more people by being willing to die for the unborn than if I were to fight to save my life. The Lord is acting in defense of the unborn. The weapon He is using is the truth. He is moving people to uphold the duty to defend life so this duty will be recognized throughout the world and the necessary political adjustments will be made.

You must not only believe abortion is murder, you must also uphold the inalienable duty to defend life. Abortion will stop when people are willing to fight and die to stop it.

Paul J. Hill




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