Controversial pastor Rev. Philip “Flip” Benham protested the legalization of same-sex marriage in North Carolina by crashing and attempting to disrupt several marriage ceremonies over the last week at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse in Charlotte.
Right Wing Watch reported that Benham — head of the group Operation Save America — and his supporters shouted, prayed loudly and waved anti-LGBT signs as same-sex couples exchanged vows at the county courthouse for the first time in North Carolina history.
According to LGBT newspaper Q, one group of celebrants held up a giant rainbow flag to block Benham and other conservative protesters’ view of a same-sex couple tying the knot.
“Another protester waved a Bible in the air as he screamed several profanities and vulgarities,” wrote Q‘s Matt Comer. “He was asked by sheriff’s deputies to tone it down or leave. He opted for the latter.”
Operation Save America evolved out of the violent anti-choice organization Operation Rescue, which encouraged acts of terrorism against U.S. abortion clinics.
In 2011, Benham was found guilty of stalking a Charlotte doctor who performed abortions. His church distributed old west-style “Wanted” posters of abortion doctors, the type of posters that were distributed ahead of the shooting deaths of three doctors; Dr. David Gunn of Florida, Dr. George Patterson of Alabama and Dr. George Tiller of Kansas. All three men were murdered by anti-choice activists.
Flip Benham is the father of David and Jason Benham, twin brothers and Christian realtors in Charlotte. The twins’ HGTV show about their business was canceled after an uproar about their connection to the violent anti-choice movement.
The Benham twins have claimed that they are being persecuted for their Christian faith and compared themselves to the victims of beheadings at the hands of ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
“We see the struggle between good and evil, light and darkness, truth and lies,” said David Benham earlier this month. “(W)hat’s happening with swords over in the Middle East is happening with silence over here in America.”
“The exact same agenda in the form of silence,” he continued. “That’s their weapon and Jason and I were targeted and it’s a very well orchestrated, well-oiled machine that comes after us.”
Earlier this year, Flip Benham and a group of supporters crashed a Unitarian church’s memorial service in New Orleans and loudly disrupted the congregation’s moment of silence for its recently deceased member.