Twenty-three years ago today, John Salvi III thought he was God’s hero.
He walked into two Planned Parenthood abortion clinics in Boston and killed two workers and wounded five others. He was captured the following day after firing shots at an abortion clinic in Virginia.
Salvi, a 22-year-old aspiring hairdresser before his murderous rampage, was described by associates as “very odd”. Despite erratic outbursts and violent behavior, Salvi’s parents resisted getting therapy for him. As his mental state worsened, he became a zealous anti-abortion activist.
During Salvi’s trial, his lawyer argued that Salvi suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. His mother testified that her son had told her that he was “the thief on the cross with Jesus.”
His lawyer acknowledged Salvi had fired the fatal shots and claimed that Salvi pursued a delusional plan of ending abortion and saving the Catholic faith. Psychiatrists testified that Salvi suffered from mental illness and did not understand the wrongfulness of his actions. His lawyer declared Salvi was not guilty by reason of insanity and that he belonged in a state mental hospital rather than a prison.
Prosecuting attorneys portrayed Salvi as a cunning anti-abortion zealot, who deliberately murdered and then evaded a police manhunt. Experts testified on behalf of the prosecution that Salvi was not suffering from any mental illness.
In March 1996, the jury convicted Salvi of all criminal charges and the judge sentenced him to two consecutive life terms with no chance for parole. Eight months later, Salvi killed himself in his prison cell.
Is the genocide of unborn children a terrible tragedy that workers at abortion mills should have to answer for at the high court of heaven? Absolutely.
Does that mean these people should be murdered for their crimes against humanity? Absolutely not.
John Salvi III was not a hero by any stretch of the imagination. His intent to end abortion was certainly heroic, but his methods were definitely wrong and cowardly.
He may have quoted Scripture to defend his twisted views, but that doesn’t make him righteous. He may have rightly declared the murder of millions of unborn children as sin, yet that doesn’t mean God approved his actions. All murder is sin in God’s eyes.
God’s great deliverer, Moses, was given the divine mission to set his people free from slavery in Egypt. When he killed the Egyptian taskmaster he had to flee to the wilderness and live in exile for forty years. It wasn’t until he was ready to do it God’s way, that he was able to fulfill his calling.
A hero is one who protests against injustice–and does it God’s way.
It seems none of the people involved in this sad event exhibited heroic wisdom. Neither Salvi, nor his parents, fellow abortion protestors, certain mental health experts, nor the judge, demonstrated wisdom from above.
* Petition: Dear Lord, may we choose to be wise and mighty heroes for Your glory.