- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 14, 2008

I was driving by the U.S. Supreme Court building the other day when I saw him — a teenager wearing a red T-shirt, black pants and a piece of red tape across his mouth.

The word L-I-F-E was written on the tape in large black letters.

He was William White, 16, a volunteer with Justice House of Prayer (JHOP), a ministry run by young people who pray nonstop in front of the Supreme Court for President Bush, the Supreme Court justices and an end to 36 years of legalized abortion.

A group of protesters thought up the idea, now called Bound4Life, in early October 2004 during the court’s opening day.

“There were about 50 to 70 of us,” recalls Paul Amabile, head of JHOP, “and we found some red duct tape and wrote the word LIFE on it. There was something about being totally quiet that recognized the silence of the unborn and the silence of the church on the matter.

“One of the pro-choice leaders came over to us and said, ‘I don’t know who you are, but your strategy is brilliant.’”

Anyone who walks or drives past the court on First Avenue Northeast has seen these folks. What’s it like, I wondered, to stand in front of the court 24/7 in the heat and cold with duct tape on your mouth? I dropped by JHOP’s second-floor apartment two blocks away to ask.

“The worst thing is being called an idiot,” says Kurt Hall, 20, of Albany, N.Y., who does the 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. shift. “We give them a pamphlet and explain we’re part of a silent prayer meeting.”

“There’s something in people’s hearts that moves them to give themselves wholeheartedly for something,” says J.M. Fridenmaker, 22, of Phoenix. “I wanted to pray to God on behalf of our nation. This caught my heart.”

The demonstrators split the day into 12 two-hour segments. Many passers-by give them a thumbs up.

“A lot of time, you get people who pat you on the back,” says Hannah Amabile, 11.

“It’s a significant place to pray,” says her sister, Brooke, 15. “I love being out there.”

Some passers-by mistakenly believe they are opposing the death penalty. Others find the demonstrators’ silence annoying.

“I get a lot of heckling from interns with congressmen,” says Derrick Sanderson, 23, of Minnesota, a tall, bearded, hippie-like personality who does the 10 p.m. to midnight shift. “They’ll come up and say, ‘My senator believes so-and-so.’”

He says he often declines to reply to them, even though participants are allowed to remove their duct tape and answer questions if an inquirer is serious. Nick Cole, 28, of San Jose, Calif., who has the 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. shift, says he’ll remove his tape at that point to answer questions.

Demonstrators keep a role of red tape at the ready for the occasional people who ask to join them in their protest. School groups are especially interested, although their teachers will rush them along, Mr. Hall says.

Their Web site, www.bound4life.com, calls the protest a “silent siege.” The Supreme Court police, who are also on a 24-hour watch a few feet away, are sympathetic, and some ask the protesters to pray for them.

“I pray, worship and sing songs in my head,” says Danielle Dansingburg, 21, of Traverse City, Mich., who has the 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. shift. “It’s one of my favorite times to go out because it’s so quiet and peaceful there.”

  • Julia Duin’s Stairway to Heaven column runs Thursdays and Sundays. She can be reached at [email protected]
  • Related Story: “Praying for the U.S.”

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