I have gone into hiding and it is all Ted’s fault.
If you recall, I made mention in a recent column of returning from Windhoek to find my disturbed neighbour wanting to know if it would be acceptable, from a theological point of view, to violate a few of the Catholic Church’s less enlightened policies before the next pope was snatched from obscurity and thrust into the crosshairs, er, spotlight.
One of the things Ted was babbling about in his delusional state was having an abortion. At the time I carefully explained to him that he lacked a pair of healthy ovaries, and that even if he were suitably equipped he would be hard pressed to find anyone willing to impregnate him.
My column duly appeared, as did an email from a charming character going by the name of Reverend Donald Spitz who appears to be the commander-in-chief of a group in the United States called the Army of God.
Dispensing with formalities and making no mention of my excellent command of the English language, Reverend Spitz told me: “Hell is a real place and your mocking words do not do you any good.”
He then commanded me to recite a prayer that contained dire words like “sinner” and “eternal hell”.
This is not good, I thought to myself, slipping into my Salman Rushdie disguise and driving around to Ted’s place at a terrible speed.
At first he refused to open the door, convinced an Islamic hit squad was hot on my heels.
“It’s far worse,” I shouted, demanding to be let in at once.
When I explained how much trouble he had got me into with his narcotic-induced ramblings, he apologised profusely and handed me a cold beer. I forgave him instantly and we began discussing the Super 12 until we realised that neither of us had watched any of the matches and cared nothing for rugby anyway.
“About this Reverend Swallows,” said Ted. “Spitz,” I said. “Make up your mind,” said Ted. “Spitz or Swallows?”
Once we had that cleared up, Ted suggested we check out the Army of God.
While we were waiting for his ancient computer to boot up, Ted said he had heard of these people and that it was quite possible I would wake up one of these mornings with my ears cut off and my genitals stuffed into my mouth.
I was still hyperventilating beer all down the front of my shirt when he nonchalantly apologised and said he was thinking of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a lovable group of Sudanese-backed missionaries who specialise in converting Ugandan heathens to Christianity through the sharp edge of a machete.
It’s hard to miss the Army of God’s website. When you come across two photographs of blood-soaked foetuses, you know you have reached this particular fount of fundamentalism.
And if that’s not enough to get you onto your holy high horse, Reverend Spitz has thoughtfully given browsers the added opportunity to “click here to view babies murdered by baby-killing abortionists”.
We decided to give this a miss and instead learn more about “Paul Hill – American Hero”. This former Presbyterian minister was executed in 2003 for shooting and killing a doctor and his escort outside a Florida abortion clinic.
“That’s enough American heroes for now,” said Ted, cracking open another beer.
A quick sidebar search revealed that a journalist who went to interview Reverend Spitz found a balding middle-aged man living in the woods of Virginia in a log house full of guns with a snarl of attack dogs locked in the bedroom. On his bedside table were copies of Soldier of Fortune and Survivalist.
“Hmm,” said Ted, “your average all-American patriot.” “Not quite,” I said, “there’s no mention of Hustler.”
We hurried back to the Army of God’s website and found a section titled: “99 Covert Ways to Stop Abortion’”.
The stealthy use of condoms wasn’t among them. Nor was there any mention of vasectomies or responsible drinking.
There was, however, this sound piece of advice: “If you have a good, high-powered rifle, silencer and armour-piercing bullets, you’re all set.”
Rocket launchers are also mentioned as an option but are not recommended because they are “much too noisy”.
Another cheap and effective way to stop abortions, according to the Army of God’s manual, is to get yourself a microlight and drop bricks onto the clinic from a dizzy height.
Then there are propane bombs and pyridine, a toxic chemical that can be released inside the clinic.
“So there you have it, brothers and sisters. Just waiting to be spread all over this land.”
Apart from a bunch of other interesting ways to terrorise, maim, kill and destroy abortion clinics and all who work in them, the rest of the website is a happy litany of biblical quotes full of fun-filled references to swords, destruction and blood.
There’s also a link to The Christian News and another to The Homo News which takes the discerning reader to media reports with headlines like: “Gay Cannibal Eats Man Who Spurned Him” and “Gay Accused of Roasting Companion”. Ted said it sounded like some sort of deranged culinary site for bandit gourmets.
By now we had worked up quite an appetite so we shut down and went off to start the braai, in full agreement that the only point on which we saw eye-to-eye with the Army of God was: “Never trust police, FBI or other agents.”
Ted was just starting to relax when I mentioned that I had received Reverend Spitz’s email a full eight hours before the offending column had even appeared in the Cape Times.
That’s all it took for Ted to start boarding up the doors and windows, drowning out my explanation of the time difference.
But even so, it’s a bit worrying that the Reverend got to see my column in Chesapeake, Virginia, before I had even picked up a copy of the paper in Camps Bay.