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Anglican priest faces jail for standing on public easement outside Planned Parenthood

By Mary Rose

Originally published here in the California Catholic Daily.

On October 7, Fr. James Linton was arrested outside the San Bernardino Planned Parenthood and held by police for six hours. Police cited him for obstructing access to a business and he was released on his written promise to appear in court. If convicted, Fr. Linton could be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail and a $400 fine.

When he was arrested, Fr. Linton, an Anglican pastor, was standing on a public easement offering incoming mothers and fathers alternatives to abortion and praying for them to change their minds.

Fr. Linton has good reason to believe in changed minds. Although he grew up in the Christian faith and has always believed that abortion is sinful, when he and his wife were first married, they used the birth control pill — and went to Planned Parenthood to get it. It wasn’t until they learned that the pill can cause abortions that they stopped using it.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on gay “marriage” aided Fr. Linton’s further conversion. “God started working on my heart on all sexual ethics when I reflected on the Obergefell decision,” he said. “It felt hypocritical to be hormonally and surgically modifying our bodies to do something different than God designed and then to get indignant about homosexual behavior.”

About a year later, the Center for Medical Progress released the videos of its undercover investigation of Planned Parenthood. Fr. Linton’s wife was pregnant with their third child at the time. “The combination of seeing abortion victims sorted through for parts and my wife being pregnant destroyed me,” he said. “She organized a protest and I’ve been in front of the clinic every Friday since.”

Every Friday, starting at 6 a.m., the San Bernardino Planned Parenthood performs abortions up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. Due in part to Fr. Linton’s faithful presence and success at saving babies, the abortion facility recently built a wall in an attempt to hinder sidewalk counselors and prevent them from speaking to mothers and fathers in the parking lot.

On Friday, October 7, the Planned Parenthood manager told Fr. Linton and other sidewalk counselors not to set foot in the driveway and then called the police. The police officers told the counselors not to trespass and not to harass the patients. The counselors agreed, telling the police that they had never trespassed or harassed anyone. A few minutes later, while Fr. Linton was standing on the public easement along the side of the facility talking to a mother, police arrested him.

Fr. Linton is a pastor at Christ’s Church in Yucaipa, which is affiliated with the Anglican Church of North America. He says that other members of his church support his work: “My tribe thinks it is great.” The Anglican church in the United States is divided, however, and the historic Anglican body in the U.S., the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, is officially pro-choice.

Fr. Linton said his arrest has not discouraged him. “I have found that sidewalk counseling has been one of the most important avenues for Christian discipleship in my life,” he said. “The combination of needing to learn to listen to God in real time, proclaim truth clearly without falling into self righteousness, and release the responsibility for what happens to God has continued to bring me to a place of humble reliance and spiritual growth. So, if God is leading you, do it. Do it now. And enjoy the ride of Christian growth you’ll immediately be brought into.”

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