Soldier of God

A cheerleader for murder, Rev. Donald Spitz says his anti-abortion message is finally getting through

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Spitz was originally born in Norfolk, the first of four kids. “I left as an infant because my father was in the military,” he says. “My parents were religious, devout Roman Catholics.” Enlisting when he was 18, he served in the Navy during the Vietnam conflict, but his ship never saw action. “To be honest, I didn’t know what to do with my life. I was definitely what you’d call ‘in the world.’” He drank, fornicated and even engaged in some minor crimes.

But then he found the King James Bible. “As I read it, my life began to change, and one day I accepted Jesus into my heart. I gave my life to him. From that moment on, I became an evangelist to spread the gospel.”

He was ordained through the International Gospel Crusade, by the evangelist Leander Boalhoarst, and started an outreach ministry in, of all places, New York’s Times Square. He eventually met and married Thea, woman from Queens, and eventually moved there with her and founded a church—not a virtual ministry, like the one has now, but a real one.

“New York,” he says when asked why he moved back to Hampton Roads. “Escape from New York.”

Spitz, who still retains vestiges of a Yankee accent, originally planned to build a church in Ocean View. But the plans fell through, a fact that still seems to rankle him. “The church just didn’t happen. I was praying to God, ‘What’s going on? Why isn’t this happening, why isn’t this taking?’ and then the very next day, I got involved with Operation Rescue, which was an antiabortion group.”

Up to that point, he had not been an activist. “But I’d always been strongly against abortion. Like, from an early age, I thought it was the worst thing a woman could do.”

Spitz would later be expelled from the once-prominent prochoice organization. “I had my own branch here in Chesapeake, but a new person took over the national office [of Operation Rescue] and wanted me to give up some of my beliefs, associations, especially Paul Hill ... a very close friend of mine. I stuck by him, I supported him, and what happened is that I changed the name to Pro Life Virginia, and I’ve been Pro Life Virginia ever since.”

We, the undersigned, declare the justice of taking all godly action necessary to defend innocent human life including the use of force. We proclaim that whatever force is legitimate to defend the life of a bornchild is legitimate to defend the life of an unborn child.” —Defensive Action Statement, 1994.

Donald Spitz will forever be linked to Paul Hill, a defrocked Presbyterian minister who became the first U.S. citizen to be executed for the murder of an abortion doctor. Hill was also the author of a notorious justifiable homicide document, the Defensive Action Statement, that is still featured prominently on the Army of God website.

Spitz, who has no criminal record, was one of the 29 original signers of the statement, which began circulating immediately after a Pensacola, Fla. OBG-YN named David Gunn was shot three times in the back by anti-abortionist Michael Griffin in 1993. It was the first in a wave of abortion clinic attacks that rocked the nation in the mid-1990s. The Chesapeake minister was good friends with Hill, before and after Hill killed Pensacola abortion doctor John Britton, and Britton’s bodyguard, James Barrett.