RETRACTION: When this article was originally published, due to editing error, we falsely attributed a paragraph to Jon Speed which did not represent what he said in the interview. The paragraph has since been removed but we would like to sincerely apologize to him and thank him for being so nice about what happened and working with us to resolve the issue. We take matters like this very seriously and we are changing our editing and interview policies to ensure this never happens again.
Psalm 139:13-16 New King James Version (NKJV)
For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
I had the honor and privilege to interview Jon Speed, pastor of Christ is King Baptist Church and owner of the used and rare bookstore Jon Speed: The Book Scout in Syracuse, New York. He has gained national attention when he closed his store in a day of mourning following the passing of New York’s Reproductive Health Act*. He did this not only to show his outrage over the law being passed but as a message to Albany, since no sales tax would be collected from him that day to fund late-term abortions. He had no idea his act of standing up for what is right, and being a voice for the preborn, would not only go viral but would ignite the “Day Of Mourning” movement that began in February and encouraged others to start becoming active to save lives.
The following are questions which were asked during the interview. I have paraphrased most of his responses. Despite his recent fame, Speed remains humble, focused, and a diligent voice for the preborn. The pro-life community is better for having such a strong and spiritual advocate.
Speed identifies as being pro-life for most of his life. The year 2011 is when he started becoming active in the public arena, and he considers himself more of an abolitionist. Originally a native of Oakfield, NY he moved from Fort Worth, TX to Syracuse, NY and became the pastor of Christ is King Baptist Church not too far away from Women’s Health Services in Dewitt, NY — where 50% of the procedures performed are abortions. On their website they advertised they never had any protestors out in front of their facility. Speed and his church took that as an invitation and planned to begin sidewalk protests. Speed invited a friend to come help him film a video promoting the event. This all led to a trailer for a pro-life documentary called Babies Are Murdered Here. That trailer was shared on YouTube and immediately received attention before the movie was even made.
The movie, which is directed by Marcus Pittman of Apologia Studios, sparked a movement for other events outside of clinics using the slogan “Babies Are Murdered Here.” Speed and Marcus began traveling around the country in 2013 documenting those outreaches. The film is still free to view on YouTube. The movie has been so successful even international activists in Canada, Brazil, and Czech Republic are requesting for it to be translated so they can share its message. The Czech Republic especially is hoping to have this done as they are experiencing a high number of abortions.
Babies Are Murdered Here has even caught the attention of Planned Parenthood, who shortly after the success of the film, started a PR campaign entitled “Healthcare Happens Here.” It is always a sign that you are making a difference when organizations such as Planned Parenthood feel the need to respond. Marcus and Speed are filming a sequel entitled Babies Are Still Murdered Here. The sequel will be about legislation to end abortion and will be released this fall.
Something to note about the film Babies Are Murdered Here, especially for those of us who find images upsetting and hard to handle, is that no images of babies were used to drive the point home. Just the Gospel and truth, and the simplicity works.
It is a terrible thing that [the Reproductive Health Act] has been passed but sadly not a surprise since it has been a long time coming. Cuomo promised it would happen and it did.
Members of Speed’s church stood for seven hours outside the building where the Act was voted on, holding signs and trying to dissuade senators from passing it. Unfortunately, the Senate was not persuaded from its course and passed the Act. Now other states are following suit and some have even made more aggressive laws protecting abortions to include not giving medical treatment to babies born alive after an abortion.
After the Act was passed, Speed could not sleep that night. He decided, in response, to shut down his bookstore for a day. He posted a sign on the door and a message on his store’s Facebook page and went home.
He received a call shortly afterwards from a friend asking him to take a picture of the sign he put on his doors. He did and throughout the day Speed’s android phone went crazy, his post having gone viral. He had no idea that this would happen. He says he can recall the notification sound going off every few seconds from his Facebook account.
Speed’s simple act became a platform for others who were upset by the Act being passed and the memorial building for the Twin Towers being lit pink. People wanted to respond to Cuomo and to the rest of the pro-abortion world and used Speed’s “Day Of Mourning” as a catalyst to hold the vigil on February 23, 2019, also called “Day Of Mourning.”
Profile pictures were changed to a black background with a fetal child inside a teardrop to symbolize the tears shed for the murdered preborn. Supporters were asked not to purchase anything for that day to prevent any sales tax being collected. It is expected to become a regular event.
The response has been overwhelmingly supportive. Speed’s website actually crashed trying to keep up with orders and it took days to manually go through them to make sure everything was processed correctly. Two hundred orders were lost during the crash but thankfully everyone who ordered has been patient, understanding, and supportive.
As far as any backlash, Speed did say that he knows of one specific customer that will no longer be shopping with him. Most customers, though, knew of his pro-life stance beforehand and have either supported him or have not let it affect their business with him. Speed has received the occasional negative message privately but for the most part his business has been impacted for the better and not worse from his actions.
So far Speed has been invited on the Fox and Friends show where he met Dean Cain. Dean, also a pro-life advocate, knew who Speed was and made a point to shake his hand and thank him for his efforts. Speed has also spoken on the phone with Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, both of who support the stance he took. But despite receiving national attention, Speed is humble and maintains that his purpose is for the unborn and not to have the movement focused on him.
When asked what advice he had for pro-life activists following the passing of the Reproductive Health Act Speed replied, “GET ACTIVE. Prayers, money, votes, and online activism are great but the time has come to get active in our communities. Get to the clinics and speak out against what is happening to babies in the womb. Share the Gospel. Spread the word and support sanctuary cities for the unborn in your local city councils. As it stands, a letter was written and voted down to start legislation for cities. It is hoped that in the future there will be approval to have cities that will offer protection for the unborn where abortions will be illegal to perform. Other things we can do is offer help to mothers who choose life and to research the companies and people we support.”
What would you say to Governor Cuomo if given the chance?
When I asked Speed what he would say to Governor Cuomo if given the chance, this was a question that he had anticipated being asked and obviously had spent a great deal of time praying and thinking over himself. When he shared with me his answer I asked him to please send me a message with his answer as I wanted to share it word for word and exactly as he expressed it to me. So often we are filled with anger and hate at the very people who could end human suffering and encourage others to choose life. Speed’s message is that of compassion and forgiveness and it is an important one for us all. He says:
“I would do the same thing that I would do with anyone else. I would share the gospel with him. If we are going to change minds we have to change hearts and I know of only one way to do that: with the gospel.
I would share with him that we break the laws of God because we are sinners. I would show him from the Ten Commandments how we all violate those Laws and attack the character of God. We are created in His image and when we break those laws, we attack His character. When we murder, we insinuate He is a murderer and He is not. When we lie, we insinuate He is a liar and He is not. Ultimately, we say we cannot trust Him and have to take matters into our own hands to get a better outcome.
I would tell him of Jesus and His death on the cross for sinners. I would emphasize that we need His obedience to the laws of God to be credited to us. I would explain 2 Corinthians 5:21--that if he would repent of his sins and trust Jesus that righteousness could be credited to him on the day of judgment so he could be found not guilty.
Imagine if he was changed by the gospel and publicly confessed his rebellion against God and his intention to obey God and walk back these murderous laws. It would be beautiful. True repentance. God can do it."
Currently Speed is working with other advocates to get sanctuary cities in New York where abortion would be made illegal. It could also provide protection to women who are coerced by others to have abortions. Additionally, as mentioned before, this fall he will release a follow up movie to Babies Are Murdered Here entitled Babies Are Still Murdered Here.
*For those that may not be familiar with the Reproductive Health Act it legalizes abortions at any time during a woman’s pregnancy if it is deemed necessary to protect her life or health. This can include her mental health. But this is not the only devastating legal protection to harm the unborn that the Act grants. It also allows medical professionals who are not doctors to perform abortions and repeals charges for harming a preborn child. Before, if a preborn child was killed it would be considered murder and there would be separate charge for any harm against the mother. Now if a child dies in the womb it has been ruled that no crime was committed. Allowing a non-medical professional to perform abortions will ensure, should Roe v. Wade be revoked and President Trump further defunds Planned Parenthood, that women will be able to legally obtain an abortion.