The article below appearead in the Altoona Mirror as the Walk team passed through New York state. Enjoy!
August 12, 2004
by William Kibler
PROCESSION ATTEMPTS TO ROUSE CHRISTIANITY
Wednesday morning, 13-year-old Jonathan Benham was striding purposefully north along the shoulder of Pleasant Valley Boulevard in Greenwood.
Carrying a model of the Ten Commandments, he was going fast, but without strain, as if his body had become a walking machine, conditioned by traveling on foot more than 2,000 miles from California since March on the way to Washington, D.C.
Jonathan was first in a seven member procession that included two men leading horses and one a donkey - each animal bearing a banner with an accalypic word from Revelation:-”Judgment,” “Justice,” “Mercy.”
It was a procession with a purpose as firm as Jonathan's stride.
“Abortion is murder! Homosexuality is sin! Islam is a lie!” proclaims a pamphlet handed out during a roadside break a little later by the Rev. Flip Benham, Jonathan's father and director of Operation Save America in Dallas and procession co-leader.
Flip Benham's “Walk across America” is prophetic in the Old Testament sense and decisively Christian: “Jesus is the Standard,” the pamphlet states.
Like Sodom and Gomorrah the nation has incurred God's wrath for depravity and risks destruction unless it collectively repents, the Benham's said.
The procession represents Flip Benham's and co-leader Rusty Thomas' of Elijah Ministries in Waco attempt to rouse a muscular Christianity to action.
Flip Benham, who said he's a former alcoholic, said his group doesn't seek to force conversion from behavior and beliefs it regards as sinful, in contrast to Islam.
The group encourages repentance out of love for the sinners, Flip Benham said.
Generally, the expressions of people encountered along the way have seemed favorable, Flip Benham said.
During the rest break, one woman stopped her car and tried to hand money to Flip Benham.
A couple of employees from K&C Dentures chatted briefly to other procession members, and afterward, employee Holly Link said she thought the procession was “fantastic.”
Link shares the group's beliefs, she said.
But the group has had confrontations with police, who have arrested members five times for disturbing the peace in Mesquite, Nev.; Rifle, Colo.; St. Louis; Hayes, Kan.; and Columbus, Ohio, Benham said.
Police don't understand the First Amendment, Flip Benham said.
They have told him the group has no right to speak if another group doesn't want to hear what it has to say, he said.
Clashes have tended to occur when the group has encountered advocates of gay or abortion rights, it seems.
The group totals 11, including supporters, one of them arranges for overnight stays on the grounds of churches where the group creates temporary pens for the livestock.
One drives a small truck with speakers mounted on the roof broadcasting music.
Another drives a recreational vehicle.
The group walks up to seven hours a day, covering 15 miles a day.
(c) Copyright 2004
Printed with permission of the Altoona Mirror.