The man that the Gazette paints as a hapless local minister arrested for tresspassing is actually the national leader of the hardline anti-choice group called “Personhood USA.”
The Billings Gazette calls Calvin Zastrow, “a Billings resident and minister for the Assemblies of God.” But, a quick Google search of the man (what an amazing tool, Google) reveals a much different picture.
Cal Zastrow co-founded Personhood USA, the out-of-state group pushing initiatives to ban abortion and some forms of birth control in several states. He is the group’s national leader and spokesperson. He lists a DC phone number and calls himself “America’s premier trainer” for the anti-choice initiative and petition process. Zastrow boasts that he works today with Operation Rescue. The group has been linked to the bombing of women’s clinics, not to mention clinic blockades and invasions, arson, bombing and arson threats, death threats, chemical attacks, stalking, physical violence and gunfire.
It turns out the Billings arrest isn’t his first rodeo. Zastrow has made a career of getting arrested and openly brags about his various arrests and sentences across the U.S. (Getting arrested is part of his strategy for getting in the press. We can see it’s working.) This isn’t even Zastrow’s first arrest in Billings–he worked up a similar scheme when he visited the state over a decade ago.
Cal Zastrow encourages people to get young people involved in the anti-choice movement, “because they have less to lose by getting arrested.” He thinks his arrests make him a martyr. He thinks getting arrested allows him to compare himself to Martin Luther King Jr.
Cal’s incarceration for loving his neighbor is in the tradition of men like John Bunyan, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Alan Keyes, and Martin Luther King Jr. His longest jail sentence, of 90 days in the Saginaw County Jail, Michigan, leads Cal to conclude that going to jail isn’t as bad as being dismembered by Planned Parenthood.
Sure, he’s been to Montana before. Zastrow was the national big-wig brought in to kick off the new, more extreme, Constitution Party of MT. The MT group broke off from the National Constitution Party for being “too liberal.” Zastrow told the splinter group that the problem isn’t political parties:
Instead, Cal says the problem is “demons from hell manifested as lies,” because a “law that lets women murder unborn children is hell.”
The absolute ban on abortion and some forms of birth control that Zastrow is pushing recently failed in Mississippi. In fact, it’s failed in every state that Zastrow’s group has attempted the ballot initiative.
Among all Montana’s anti-abortion activist groups (Montana Catholic Conference, the Montana Family Foundation, the Eagle Forum, the Concerned Women of America, and the Right To Life of Montana not one is supporting the so-called “Personhood Amendment.”