Whether they’re true or not, internet podcaster’s stories about personhood signature-collecting deserve wider audience

UPDATE (8-6-2012): After reading my blog post, McBurney sent me the following clarifications:

The only comment I remember differently is this: I operate under no delusion that Personhood will pass “this election cycle in Colorado”. Because I believe it will pass, somewhere, sometime, but I’m a realist, and gaining 21 points in Colorado, in one cycle is highly unlikely.

And another thing I may not have mentioned. The battle for Personhood is about provoking a confrontation. And whether you heathens want to settle this or not, we are going to settle it, and it will be settled in favor of the innocents you have actively advocated murdering. And you will be put to shame.


“The one thing the homosexuals have on us is they will stand up loudly and proclaim what they want,” Doug McBurney told me. “Christians are really timid. They don’t stand up for their beliefs.”

Timid isn’t what you think of when you listen to McBurney’s Weekly World internet podcast or hear his stories, which deserve a wider audience, about collecting signatures to put the personhood amendment, outlawing all abortions and some common forms of birth control, on the November election ballot in Colorado.

To get signatures, McBurney says he’s been “stopping by” churches, sometimes by invitation and sometimes “commando-style,” over the objections of church leaders. Once, he says, he was “literally grabbed” by a Catholic priest.

McBurney says he’d gladly get arrested repeatedly at churches, but family and work commitments make this impossible.

Recently, some members of a church, whose name McBurney will not divulge, told McBurney to ask their pastor to allow McBurney’s personhood-signature gatherers to visit their church and collect signatures. This is McBurney’s story of how he succeeded in getting signatures there.

I could not confirm whether McBurney’s story is true, and in normal circumstances I wouldn’t re-tell it without confirming it. However, whether it’s true or not, or partially true, it’s what McBurney is alleging, and it’s being passed around in personhood circles, as inspiration for their cause. So, as such, and because the harm done if it’s false is minimal, I think it’s worth telling. So here you go,

McBurney says he asked the pastor for permission to solicit signatures on church grounds, but he never heard back.

So he bought a ticket to a “comedy-night” concert at the church, and at the event, he started collecting signatures for the personhood amendment in the lobby.

At which point, he was escorted out of the church by security officers, as were fellow signature gatherers who were in the parking lot, where, McBurney says, they created more of a ruckus.

This kind of altercation doesn’t bother McBurney. In fact, that’s why he’s collecting personhood signatures.

“This is a ministry to increase social tension, and most of all, we want to create social tension in the church, because it has failed us,” he told me.

McBurney doesn’t have “delusional” hopes that the personhood measure will pass, if it makes it on the ballot, he said.

It’s more about what happened at the church after he was escorted out by security.

A few days later, the pastor called McBurney and said he was on his side and believed in his personhood cause, but McBurney’s behavior at the church was unacceptable.

McBurney pleaded with the pastor to rise above the fracas and invite his group back, to collect signatures.

The pastor agreed, and set up a table for McBurney “in the corner” of the church lobby, where, McBurney says, “people could only see us out of the corner of their eyes.”

“So I don’t stand by the table off to the side,” says McBurney. “I took my two-foot-by-two-foot sign, [which read, ‘Protect Innocent Life. Sign the Pro-Life Petition’,] and stood in the middle of lobby.”

“What this pastor saw was that most everyone in his congregation, maybe 150 people, came and signed our petition,” said McBurney.

“This pastor was timid,” McBurney continues. “But I could see in his eyes that he was becoming emboldened. He realized he could say he was pro-life in front of his congregation.”

“The pastor didn’t want chaos in the lobby,” he told me. “He feared that there would be arguments. But the people who supported personhood were happy and joyful about it, and the others just averted their eyes and shuffled out quietly. They were ashamed.”

So McBurney says that, next time, the pastor put them in the center of the lobby, announced that they were out there, and, at the last service, made an “impassioned statement” about them.

“We were flooded,” McBurney told me, and the pastor assigned a staff member to help them collect signatures.

They have a lot of collecting to do to get the approximately 86,000 signatures required by Aug. 6, and McBurney doesn’t know if they can do it.

“We don’t have enough signatures now, and we only have about ten days left,” McBurney said.

But Gualberto Garcia-Jones, legal analyst for Personhood USA, is more optimistic.

“I do think we’ll make it,” he emailed me.

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