Peaceful Singing and Disruptive Counter-Protest Mark League’s 6th Annual “Empty Manger” Caroling Day

Carolers sing outside Washington Street Abortion Clinic

Joe Scheidler and carolers sing outside the Washington Street abortuary. [Photo by John Jansen]

The Pro-Life Action League’s sixth annual “Empty Manger” Christmas Caroling day was by far the most eventful year yet. For the second year, the League sponsored two tours, one in Chicago and one in DuPage county, visiting abortion clinics singing Christmas carols to bring light and hope to those dark places.

The Chicago tour experienced the sharp juxtaposition of the joy and peace of Christmas and the violence and anger of pro-abortion counter protest.

The Chicago carolers began at Planned Parenthood at LaSalle and Division, where they saw the traditional Christmas Deathscorts in their festive yellow vests. At the Family Planning Associates Washington Street clinic, a group of 30 carolers sang to several women entering the clinic, while counselors tried to persuade them to choose life.

LuAnn Bloom rented a bus for several southside families, and these first two stops were blessed with the presence of several children. The group sang all of the songs on the sheet, some familiar and some new. There was a real feeling of joy and peace from the group.

Counter Protesters Try to Disrupt Caroling

Protesters crowd around Carolers

Protesters crowd around Joe Scheidler and carolers, waving signs and yelling at them. [Photo by John Jansen]

The mood of the third stop, unfortunately, was not as joyful. As the carolers began to arrive at American Women’s Medical Center, so did the opposition. The League had found out the day before that a group was trying to organize a “counter-protest.” But since efforts to organize protests of League events in the past had usually been unsuccessful and poorly attended, no one was concerned.

As soon as the protesters saw they outnumbered the carolers—and that a reporter from a local radio station and a video camera from a TV station had arrived—they began chanting their usual slogans: “Who decides? Women decide.”

One amusing moment came when the group leader led them in the chant “Pro-choice, that’s a lie, you don’t care if women die!” The chant was repeated several times before they realized they were saying it wrong.

Protester yells at Joe Scheidler

One of the protesters yelling at Joe Scheidler as he tries to sing carols. [Photo by John Jansen]

The carolers lined both sides of the sidewalk, facing each other so they could hear one another singing. One particularly angry girl pushed by pro-lifers reminding them “you can’t block the sidewalk.” She led them screaming past the solemn singing of the carolers.

When they tired of marching, two of them walked in front of Dan and Corrina Gura’s “All I Want For Christmas. . .Is An End To Abortion” sign to try to block the words. So Dan and Corrina hoisted their banner, which is on long poles, high into the air. The protesters raised their arms, but gave up when their cardboard signs flopped over and their stomachs were exposed to the cold weather.

Several or the pro-abortion protesters placed themselves right next to carolers, shouting in their faces. But the carolers continued to sing, ignoring their opposition. “These people are trained to anger pro-lifers and get them to respond,” Ann Scheidler said. “It is so important that we do not take the bait, that we do not respond to their anger with our anger. We cannot give them that kind of power.” In spite of their best efforts, the protesters could not start a fight.

Final Site Ends Tour Peacefully

Carolers at Albany

Carolers sing at the last stop at Albany. [Photo by John Jansen]

The carolers soon finished their signing at American Women’s and moved on to Albany. There the caroling went smoothly until the very end. Again, only when the abortion advocates had gathered a large enough group did they get out of their cars and head to the clinic’s sidewalk.

By that time, though, the group solemnly sang Silent Night and got back in their cars to go to Joe and Ann Scheidler’s house for hot chocolate and cookies. There everyone had a chance to talk about the evil they had faced and overcome, and to warm their fingers and toes after such a cold day.

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