Failed federal prosecution of pro-life advocate Mark Houck a frightening tale of persecution worthy of a totalitarian state

I’ve read about countries like this. I never thought I’d live in one.

In his book When Faith Is Forbidden: 40 Days on the Frontlines with Persecuted Christians, Todd Nettleton, host of The…

I’ve read about countries like this. I never thought I’d live in one.

In his book When Faith Is Forbidden: 40 Days on the Frontlines with Persecuted Christians, Todd Nettleton, host of The Voice of the Martyrs Radio, details heartbreaking accounts of the faithful in totalitarian nations being harassed, intimidated and even imprisoned for their faith by corrupt governments.

You needn’t ask if it could happen here. Astonishingly, it already is.

The most frightening example is the jackbooted, gun-pointed, raid-style September arrest and federal prosecution of Pennsylvania pro-life advocate Mark Houck – for merely shoving an aggressive, up-close pro-abortion zealot harassing his 12-year-old son outside a Philadelphia abortion clinic in October 2021.

The son, writes one news account, told jurors the pro-abortion activist “had approached him and his father cursing and shouting that they should ‘go home and masturbate’ or focus their attention on pedophile priests.”

Blessedly, it took a jury just an hour – it can take jurors nearly that long to get acquainted and find their footing – to acquit Houck on Monday. But that hardly disperses the ominous black cloud of a menacing government that had done its best to make a federal case out of a shove and to try to imprison a protective father for up to 11 years.

Contrast that with the Biden Department of Justice’s inability, or indifference, to solve the 100 attacks on pro-life facilities last year after the leak of the Dobbs decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade – and there can be no argument that this government has taken sides in a most sinister way.

Houck’s wife told Catholic News Agency that “a SWAT team of about 25 came to my house with about 15 vehicles and started pounding on our door. They said they were going to break in if he didn’t open it. And then they had about five guns pointed at my husband, myself, and basically at my kids.”

Of course, this one-sided ideologically driven enforcement of federal law isn’t confined to the abortion issue – or to this administration. Bakers and web designers are being forced by the left to create products that violate their deeply held religious beliefs.

And frighteningly, three U.S. Supreme Court justices actually thought the government was in its rights to fire Bremerton, Washington high school football coach Joseph Kennedy for praying silently after games.

Think about that for a moment – that a man could be deprived of a job for having only posed in prayer in public. That’s the stuff of the North Koreas, Chinas and Irans – not the country I grew up in.

It’s certainly not the country Houck thought it was.

Despite the fact that a complaint against him in municipal court amounted to nothing, the Biden administration sent the full weight of the federal government against Houck – to his house, at 6:45 in the morning, in the form of two-dozen agents – despite the fact they knew where he was, and despite the fact he’d previously made himself available for questioning anytime.

He says he opened his front door to “long guns pointed at me, heavily armored vests, ballistic helmets, ballistic shields, a battering ram …” At the federal building, he was shackled at the waist and feet.

“Houck said he was awake, but his wife and kids were asleep,” reports CNA. “He said the FBI ‘repeatedly’ rang the doorbell and banged on the door saying ‘open up.’”

Why the drug-raid urgency? Were they afraid he’d flush his prayer book down the toilet?

What kind of government does this to its citizens?

Answer: the very bad kind, the kind you’ve heretofore only read about in books and newspapers.

“Houck said that his detainment was ‘the most intimate prayer experience’ of his life,” CNA reports, “adding that he was ‘at the foot of Calvary’ and was at peace. He said he felt so close to the cross of Christ that he could ‘take the splinters off that cross.’”

Interestingly, that’s much the same testimony given to Nettleton by persecuted Christians in totalitarian countries – that their persecution only deepened their faith and strengthened their resolve.

This was never about a shove. The U.S. Department of Justice, despite its penchant for criminalizing concerned parents, wouldn’t have become involved in a pushing match outside a Walmart. This was all about ideology. And if you happen to be pro-life, your ideology isn’t in favor under this regime, to say the least.

Abortion advocates have long joked sardonically that if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. Mission accomplished, and without the aid of one expectant guy. The federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, used to persecute Houck, has helped enshrine the sacrament of abortion in federal law.

The result, at least under a far-left administration, is that any dispute outside an abortion clinic is a sacrilege for which the pro-life participant will be threatened with hard time.

I’ve read about countries like this. I never thought I’d live in one.