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Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry is calling on people to burn effigies of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this Halloween, as part of a “Burn in Hell” video contest to protest the health care legislation in Congress.
Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, said Tuesday that the contest serves as a political and spiritual statement that “gives people a chance to peacefully vent their rage.”
“If Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid force us to pay for child killing and they die unrepentant, they will burn in hell for this,” Terry said in a telephone interview.
But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., called the contest “unfortunate.”
“I don’t think appealing to people’s anger and in effect inciting them to acts which either display or in any way project violent acts is consistent with rational discussion of very critical issues,” Hoyer told reporters.
A YouTube video of the contest instructions shows how to print a poster of Reid and Pelosi and construct a stand for it. The clip shows a person dousing the Democratic leaders’ images with flammable liquid. The next scene shows their picture going up in flames. People are then encouraged to take pictures, record and submit online the footage of their Oct. 31 protests.
“No, this is not a threat to their body,” an unidentified man says in the instructional video, “but it is a threat to their soul.”
Terry insisted the contest was not a threat to Reid or Pelosi. He contended that the Democrats’ plan to overhaul health care would allow federal funding of abortion.
Currently a law called the Hyde amendment bars federal funds for abortion – except in cases of rape and incest or if the mother’s life would be endangered. The law applies those restrictions to Medicaid, forcing states that cover abortion for low-income women to do so with their own money. Separate laws apply the restrictions to the federal employee health plan and military and other programs.
The Democrats’ health overhaul bill would create a new stream of federal funds not covered by the restrictions.
House Democrats are trying to address anti-abortion lawmakers’ concerns by specifying that people receiving government subsidies to buy health insurance couldn’t use that money for abortions.
The top prize in the video contest includes a weekend in Washington during the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
On the Web: Overtune Roe
Associated Press Writer Erica Werner contributed to this report.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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