Philip "Flip" Benham (born April 16, 1948) is an Evangelical Christian minister and the national leader of Concord, North Carolina-based Operation Save America, an anti-abortion group that evolved from another anti-abortion organization, Operation Rescue.
Benham has been active in the anti-abortion movement since the early 1980s, and he founded Operation Rescue's chapter in the Metroplex in 1988. He succeeded Randall Terry as national director of Operation Rescue in 1994, and renamed it Operation Save America in 1999.
In 1994, Benham confronted Norma McCorvey, best known as "Jane Roe" in the landmark Supreme Court abortion case "Roe v. Wade", at a book-signing. He shouted at her that she was "responsible for the deaths of over 33 million children," and six months later he opened Operation Rescue's national headquarters next to A Choice for Women, the reproductive health care clinic where McCorvey was working at the time. McCorvey initially resisted any contact, but eventually started to talk to Benham during her smoking breaks. During one friendly banter, McCorvey goaded Benham, "What you need is to go to a good Beach Boys concert." Benham answered, "Miss Norma, I haven't been to a Beach Boys concert since 1976."
McCorvey later reported that this seemingly innocuous response shook her to the core and that, quite suddenly, Benham became human to her. She later accepted an invitation to visit Benham's church and within a year, McCorvey changed her views on abortion from supporting the pro-choice movement to supporting the pro-life movement. McCorvey has remained pro-life.
"Coming Home to Rome"
McCorvey released the following statement on June 15, 1998 through her Roe No More Ministries:
"After many months of prayer, and many worried nights, I am making the joyous announcement today that I have decided to join the Mother Church of Christianity--- by which I of course mean the Roman Catholic Church.
"I was baptized into the Christian faith several years ago by the Rev. Flip Benham, director of Operation Rescue. Since that time I have grown in my Faith. One of the most important moments in this growth process occurred during prayer. I clearly heard the Heavenly Father say to me that I was to be with Him soon. I was very scared of this, thinking that it meant I was to die. I consulted my dear friend, Fr. Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life, who has been the catalyst to bring me into the Catholic Church. I told him of my concerns, and his advice to me was to continue to pray and to ponder this message. I listened to him and came to realize that what God was actually saying to me was to "come ALL the way home to Him" in His Church--- the Church Jesus Christ Himself founded, the Mother church. "My first public mention of my decision was at an Evangelical Church in Waco, Texas, at an event hosted by Daniel Vinzant. Waco is now like my ‘Bethlehem.’
"I will begin classes in Catholicism this July, taught by Fr. Edward Robinson, [pro-life coordinator] of the Dallas Diocese, where I live. I will also continue to be in close contact with Fr. Pavone, who now works at the Vatican and will arrange for me to receive my Confirmation in the city of Rome. He has told me that he is going to inform the Pope of my decision to become a Catholic.
Hurricane relief efforts
Benham and his organization volunteered their time to provide food and supplies in Mississippi after that area was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Although other organizations accepted funding from the government for their efforts, Benham stated that his organization would never accept money from the government.
Benham gained attention commenting on the execution of Paul Jennings Hill and the murder of George Tiller, and for participating in the vigil outside of Judge Roy Moore's courthouse in which stood a Ten Commandments monument. He also demonstrated for Terri Schiavo.
Benham has spoken out against hate crime legislation that would include extra legal protections for victims of anti-gay bias crimes asserting the legislation "expressly forbids any language that might be perceived as 'hate' by the homosexual community. This makes illegal every word in the Bible."
On July 1, 2011, a Charlotte, North Carolina jury found Benham guilty of stalking a Charlotte area abortion doctor. Prosecutors charged that Benham and his supporters took pictures of the doctor, his house, and the interior of his clinic, and later distributed photographs of the doctor captioned with "Wanted ... By Christ, to Stop Killing Babies". Benham was sentenced to 18 months probation and ordered to stay at least 500 feet from the doctor. Responding to the sentencing, Benham said, "They've stolen from innocent babies a voice that has spoken for them."
On October 13, 2014, Benham staged a protest in Charlotte, North Carolina, outside the office of the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds, where some of the first marriage licenses for same-sex couples were being issued, and while some of those couples were in the midst of wedding ceremonies nearby.
- "Meet the Director, Rev. Flip Benham". Operation Save America. Retrieved June 24, 2012.
- "Who is 'Jane Roe'?", CNN, June 18, 2003, accessed July 17, 2007
- HOWE VERHOVEK, SAM (12 August 1995). "New Twist for a Landmark Case: Roe v. Wade Becomes Roe v. Roe". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
- http://web.archive.org/web/20090131091719/http://priestsforlife.org/testimony/normacnspreptobecath.html "'Jane Roe' Announces Decision To Become Catholic". Nancy Frazier O'Brien, Catholic News Service. Internet Archive, accessed August 25, 2015.
- http://web.archive.org/web/20090131091813/http://priestsforlife.org/testimony/roecatholicnormapressrelease.html "Coming Home To Rome". Internet Archive, accessed August 25, 2015.
- http://web.archive.org/web/20090131091704/http://priestsforlife.org/testimony/givenbabiesback.htm Internet Archive, accessed August 25, 2015.
- "Hurricane Relief Update". Operation Save America. October 2, 2005. Retrieved June 24, 2012.
- Benham, Flip. "Troy Newman's purchase of the 'Operation Rescue' trademark". Operation Save America. Retrieved June 24, 2012.
- Young, John (May 20, 2009). "Hate, in love's name". Albany Times Union. Retrieved June 24, 2012.
- Ordoñez, Franco; Ridenhour, Courtney. "Anti-abortion activist guilty of stalking Charlotte doctor" (2011-07-02) The Charlotte Observer
- "Phillip 'Flip' Benham Found Guilty Of Stalking Abortion Doctor In North Carolina". Huffington Post. 2 July 2011. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
- "Same-sex couples celebrate their legal weddings across North Carolina" (October 14, 2014) qnotes