A group of Christian leaders from across Virginia is fighting to keep taxpayer dollars out of the hands of Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading abortion provider.
"Today, this African American pastor is declaring war against Planned Parenthood," said Rev. Joe Ellison, vice president of the Council on Biblical Principles. "We're asking pastors to shut them down in their communities. We're asking pastors to pray them out and we're asking Planned Parenthood to leave our children alone."
"We believe that the sanctity of life covers all of human life from conception to death. And we believe that God is the giver and sustainer of that life, and so any funding that would go toward any group that would abort pale male -- we do not agree with that funding," said Pastor Jerome Hancock of Southside Church of the Nazarene in Chesterfield, Va.
In the last 10 years, Virginia has given close to half a million dollars to Planned Parenthood.
The Virginia Christian Alliance sponsored a gathering in Richmond, Va. It represents more than 50 churches. They say the decision to de-fund a non-profit organization that has shown itself to be very profitable should be a no-brainer.
"We're asking the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general to use the full force of their elected office to help us de-fund once and for all Planned Parenthood," said Don Blake, chairman of the Virginia Christian Alliance. "Taxpayer funds do not belong in the hands of Planned Parenthood."
The alliance presented a petition to the governor's office signed by influential leaders such as Tony Perkins and Pat Robertson to block any taxpayer funding to the abortion provider. Several pro-life politicians say the action is long overdue.
"I think a lot of people are starting to see that this philosophy and the practice of this group. It should be called 'Planned Barrenhood' because it's nothing to do with children and everything to do with aborting children," said Del. Robert Marshall, R-Manassas, Va.
The organizers of the Virginia de-funding Planned Parenthood rally are confident it will become a reality, especially with a pro-life governor in office. They are also hopeful that their actions will send a strong message to other states to do the same.
*Originally published February 22, 2010.