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Religious Protestors Ramp Up Anti-Abortion Protests in Southern Oregon

RV Saltshakers Facebook Page
Religious groups protest outside the Planned Parenthood Grants Pass location in June.

As conservative states continue to challenge federal laws on abortion, in deep blue Oregon, the debate over abortion rights is happening on a much smaller scale, and it’s happening on your average street corner.

Grants Pass business owners say Evangelical groups are increasingly harassing customers with profanities and images of aborted fetuses.

Veronica Noble of Tasty Treasures Food Truck says they scared away customers at this year’s annual Boatnik festival.

“They had very graphic picture signs and words and they were just yelling at everybody,” Noble said. “They were calling people out of the crowd and telling them they were going to go to hell if they did things.”

Jon Clements of a group called the RV Saltshakers says they’re doing the Bible’s bidding.

“Have you no wish for others to be saved, then you my friend are not saved, be sure of that,” Clements said. “In other words, if you don’t care about people going to hell, then you’re on your way to hell.”

But residents say their proselytizing goes too far. Mike Pelfrey spoke at a Grants Pass city council meeting along with a handful of business owners in mid-May.

“I am a Christian, and I go to church, but I don’t yell at people on the way to church and force them to want to understand what my beliefs are,” Pelfrey said.

At that meeting, city attorney Mark Bartholomew said staff were looking into the issue. He didn’t return a request for comment.

April Ehrlich is JPR content partner at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Prior to joining OPB, she was a regional reporter at Jefferson Public Radio where she won a National Edward R. Murrow Award.