Sunday morning, Waco Pastor Chuck Martin received a text from a team member that someone had vandalized the Glory Bell Church building, writing “Jesus wore a dress #pride” in graffiti. 

About a mile away, a vacant UPS adjoining Baylor University was defaced with “#pride GOD MADE TRANS PEOPLE” in similar handwriting. 

Although Pastor Martin denied making the report, the Waco Police Department confirmed it got a call for criminal mischief. 

The crime occurred hours before the Citizens for Life pro-life march that afternoon at Doris Miller Park. Mercy Culture Church also hosted marches in Dallas and Fort Worth, with an estimated 1,600 attendees across all three cities.

Mercy Culture’s Worship Director Lauren Caldwell led around 200 attendees donning “June is Life Month” T-shirts in song and prayer through downtown Waco.

In addition to the march and speakers, several pro-life booths endorsed adoptions, such as Lifeline Children’s Services. 

At another booth, Founding Director of Pro-Life Waco (PLW) John Pisciotta handed out signs for the march and said he’s no stranger to receiving “negative signs.”

“After Dobbs, Pro-Choice Waco showed up in quite substantial numbers,” Pisciotta explains. “But after two times they were done. That’s always been my experience with the other side. We’re supporting something that we’re committed to. That’s a matter of the heart. It’s a deep commitment. If you’re supporting something on the other side like ‘You know, we want the right to kill babies’ it’s just kind of hard to motivate yourself to sacrificially go out there and support the right to kill babies.”

PLW touts several recent successes in Waco. From March to September 2023, Pisciotta and several volunteers protested before a CVS that closed permanently in October. While the group didn’t take direct credit for its closure, “In November, we had a celebration at the grave of that CVS,” he said with a grin.

Before that, PLW helped stop Waco from becoming an abortion sanctuary city, which Austin and Denton narrowly approved under the GRACE Act in 2022. Over 400 pro-life attendees came to comment and defeat the motion, which the former far-left Waco City Councilwoman Kelly Palmer advocated. She later resigned before the end of her first term.

PLW will next protest on Wednesday at the CVS by Baylor University, where Pisciotta taught economics before retiring twenty years ago. Pisciotta and ten to fifteen volunteers protest biweekly outside of CVS and Walgreens to inform passersby that these chains sell FDA-approved mifepristone and misoprostol, which kill the unborn and induce contractions. 

Recently, Texas Right to Life lost its suit against the Food and Drug Administration over these abortion drugs after the US Supreme Court ruled the plaintiffs lacked standing.

Pisciotta said he appreciated their efforts but he’s more focused on “playing the long-term game” to change the hearts and minds of what he calls “the mushy middle.” For emphasis, he presented a graph showing the undecided “mushy middle” voters located between “pro-life” and “pro-abortion” advocates, while paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln: “The most important impact in politics comes from those with public sentiment, without it you have nothing.”

In addition to protests, Pro-Life Waco recommends pro-life supporters switch prescriptions from CVS or Walgreens to independent pharmacists, grocery stores, or even Walmart, but not Target as their pharmacies contract with CVS. 

Pisciotta plans to attend the National Right to Life Conference to get 100 groups across America to join PLW’s Pharmacy Outreach-4 plan and offer 100 flyers and six signs for free to any group willing to hold at least four protests. PLW has already recruited two dozen groups across cities nationwide. Half come from Texas, while some hail from unexpected locations including far-left San Francisco, California, and St. Paul, Minnesota. 

Mercy Culture Pastor Les Cody encouraged attendees to continue supporting life and not to ignore the issue, as some have suggested. “We can look and see what’s going to win votes, or we can do what’s right, and we have a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable among us.” 

Cody then cited a claim that 40 million Christians didn’t vote in the last presidential election cycle, adding, “Make your voice heard, call your elected officials, send them emails, tag them on social media. Be annoying. Our elected officials ought to be afraid of our power and the power of our vote.”

As for the vandals, Sean Gleason of Citizens for Life said, “We are here for even those who hate us and what we stand for.” 

Ian Camacho

Ian Camacho graduated from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and is a Precinct Chair for the McLennan County Republican Party. @RealIanCamacho.