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the Body Politic
Vol. 4, No. 6 - May 1994, Page 7
Copyright © 1994, 1997 by the Body Politic Inc.
Did Operation Rescue Flower From Branch Ministries? -- Part II
by Anne Bower
In the May Body Politic, we began the saga of Randall Terry, his pastor Daniel Little, Pastor Little's non-profit corporation, Branch Ministries, and Mr. Little's wholesale florist shop. To recap, Daniel Little was one of Mr. Terry's early associates after Mr. Terry arrived in Binghamton, NY in 1983. Mr. Terry became a lay-minister in Pastor Little's church, the Church at Pierce Creek.
Two years before Mr. Terry arrived in Binghamton, Pastor Little had incorporated a religious non-profit, Branch Ministries. In 1983, Pastor Little's church, deeded land to Branch Ministries. In 1984, Branch Ministries used that land to secure a $62,000 loan from a local bank. By 1984, Mr. Terry had begun harassing patients and staff at the first abortion clinic in Binghamton, Southern Tier Women's Services.
Between 1984 and 1986, Branch Ministries sprouted three projects; Project Life, headed by Mr. Terry, the Crisis Pregnancy Center, also overseen by Mr. Terry, and the House of Life, aborted by an uncooperative zoning board. In January 1986, Mr. Terry and a few disciples had their first break-in at STWS, and Joseph Scheidler came to town for his first visit. In June '86, Pastor Little's congregation paid for a signature ad in the Binghamton newspaper proclaiming Pastor Little's message that man must obey Higher Laws. Mr. and Mrs. Terry were among the signers. These sentiments would guide Mr. Terry on his paths of lawbreaking. The seeds of Operation Rescue had been planted.
Branches GrowThe years between 1986 and 1988 were busy ones for Mr. Terry and Rev. Little. On April 30, 1986, Mr. Terry took out his first DBA as Great Buy Used Cars, headquartered at 1020 Front St. Vestal, NY, the site of Rev. Little's wholesale florist business. (That address would host other of Rev. Little and Branch Ministries projects.) Picketing and break-ins at STWS had continued, and resulted in a non-jury trial in August 1986 for Pastor Little, Cindy Terry and other anti-abortion activists. Mr. Terry was using these attacks at the Binghamton clinic to perfect and hone tactics he would export to the nation over the next two years.
While Mr. Terry was happily practicing blockades, life also seemed to be going well for Branch Ministries. In Nov. 1986, they paid off their little $62,000 loan, taken out just two years before. A commendable accomplishment for such a small congregation.
By 1988, Operation Rescue was organized and thriving, but Mr. Terry's used car business was not doing so well. In March '88 he filed an amended DBA, showing that the business was now located at 36 Main St. in Windsor, NY, the small town where his new home was located (see Cindy Terry: Real Estate Queen in the May, 1994 Body Politic.) The name was changed to Windsor Motors, but it had little effect on the profit margin. Eventually, Mr. Terry dissolved the business. There is no record to show if he reimbursed his fellow parishioners at the Church at Pierce Creek who invested in that enterprise.
Branches FlowerThe car dealership DBA was not the only one filed by Mr. Terry in 1988. On October 14th he filed two more, one for Project Life, the other for Operation Rescue. (It should be noted that both of these pieces of paper no longer exist at the Broome County Clerk's Office. They are referenced in the computer system, but the actual paper has disappeared from the files. These are publically accessible documents and removal is a relatively easy process.) It is interesting that the address for Project Life, PO Box 1180, was the first address for Operation Rescue, and is still used today by Mr. Terry. There is no record that Mr. Terry ever dissolved or amended his Operation Rescue DBA.
How Mr. Terry in 1988, wound up Doing Business As an organization, Project Life, that in 1985 was a division of a religious non-profit, Branch Ministries, is a fascinating financial and legal question. On his 1988 IRS tax forms, Mr. Terry listed among his occupations, "pro- life activities for Operation Rescue and Project Life." Under schedule A Line 14, he lists a total of $16,774 in gifts from projects which include: Pierce Creek Gospel Chapel; Branch Ministries, Inc.; House of Life (which never lived); March for Life; and Crisis Pregnancy Center. All of these activities had become part of Mr. & Mrs. Terry's personal income.
Branches Bear FruitThrough 1988 to 1990, Operation Rescue blockades became common sights across the nation. Randy Terry, leader, had succeeded in causing quite a stir at the 1988 Democratic Convention in Atlanta. So much of a stir, that in 1989 he found himself in a Georgia jail, shackled by heavy fines and judgments. A benefactor paid the fine that got him released from prison, but after that experience, Mr. Terry seemed to loose his enthusiasm for incarceration.
In 1990, he reluctantly turned the reigns of Operation Rescue over to Rev. Keith Tucci, and placed the Binghamton organization under the care of Gary Leber, one of his long-time disciples and member of The Church at Pierce Creek. One year later, Branch Ministries filed a DBA announcing it was doing business as Christians In Action, (CIA), with an office at 1020 Front St. -- Rev. Little's little florist shop. Despite the address, Christians In Action actually operated out of what was the original Operation Rescue headquarters on Chenango St. in Binghamton. Today, Gary Leber heads CIA, still on Chenango St., half a block away from the other Branch Ministries sprout, the Crisis Pregnancy Center.
In February of 1992, Randall Terry reached a milestone -- his first incorporation. He filed in Albany, NY a Certificate of Incorporation for "Randall Terry Live", the name of his new daily radio call-in show. Mr. Terry had finally achieved his boyhood dream of being in show business. He located his studio in Windsor at 36 Main St., where he used to operate Good Buy Used Cars.
Bitter FruitMeanwhile, Rev. Little and his wife suffered a loss when his father- in-law, owner of the retail florist shop, passed on. Rev. Little was named one of three trustees (all male) of the million dollar plus estate, which was divided and managed for the six remaining daughters. In October of that year, Rev. Little and the Church at Pierce Creek sponsored their famous ad in USA Today, warning that voting for Bill Clinton is "a sin against God". This diatribe put the church under investigation by the IRS.
While his pastor dabbled in the political waters, Mr. Terry jumped in the pool by running against a local Congressman Boehlert, a popular local Republican. The Terry campaign was desultory at best. He did not even spend enough money to be required to fill out federal campaign reports. Nevertheless, he did receive about 7,000 votes.
One month after the election, Branch Ministries branched out again, this time filing a DBA for the All Women's Help Center. This new Crisis Pregnancy Center was located in Vestal, near the new site for STWS, conveniently up the road from the retail and wholesale florist shops. The address on the DBA was that of Rev. Little's florist shop. In February 1993, the florist shop and Branch Ministries were at it again with a new DBA -- this one for New York Prison Ministries with principle office at Rev. Little's florist shop. Branch Ministries stated on the DBA that it intended to do business in Madison, as well as, Broome County.
A PlumNot to be outdone, in June 1993, Mr. Terry again filed a DBA's, this time for Resistance Press, publisher of his third book. The address on the DBA is that of his Harpursville residence (soon to be abandoned for "the estate"). On the same day, he also filed a DBA for Windsor Wheels with an address of 36 Main St., Windsor. This is the location of Mr. Terry's radio station and former site of Good Buy Used Cars. (Just this month, a sporty Toyota appeared for sale in front of the radio station.)
A few days after filing these DBA's, Mr. Terry took a little trip to Amsterdam Holland, where he may have visited with and finalized a deal between himself and the noted Dutch Evangelist, Johan Maasbach. A few months after that visit, the Johan Maasbach World Mission Foundation, Inc. filed a change of address for its New York State corporation, listing the new address as Holland. Subsequently, the Terry's Harpursville house was on the market and the rest is history.
Will Branches Wither?Right around the time of these events, Mr. Terry began soliciting funds for a project he called The Resistance. In December, 1993 he filed a DBA with that name, headquartered at the old Operation Rescue building. The next month, Mr. Terry revealed his continued association with the Church at Pierce Creek when, in a fund-raising letter for The Resistance, he promised donors a parchment copy of the anti-Clinton ad run in USA Today. Enclosed with the fund-raising letter was a pamphlet entitled, The Church Under Attack: The IRS vs. Religious Freedom, by Rev. Daniel J. Little, whose address was listed at the wholesale florist shop. The pamphlet urges readers to protest the IRS inquiry into the church's finances.
At this time, we have no knowledge if the IRS has completed its investigation of the Church at Pierce Creek, or if they have begun one on Mr. Terry or Branch Ministries. But this ten year history of association certainly raises some interesting questions about whether the seeds of Operation Rescue sprouted from Branch Ministries, planted by the association between Randall Terry and Daniel Little on the grounds of The Church at Pierce Creek.
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