KENNEBUNKPORT, MAINE, FEB. 17 -- He has heard their beating drums from his bedroom in the White House, but today President Bush came face-to-face with the people of the anti-war movement when a man with a long history of protest was dragged from a church service here shouting, "Stop the bombing! Stop the massacre in the name of God!"
The removal of John Schuchardt, 51, from the First Congregational Church of Kennebunkport where the president was attending a service brought a climactic end to an outburst in which Schuchardt, from a pew near the front of the church, repeatedly denounced the U.S. bombing of Iraq. The president, sitting in the second pew on the opposite side, listened with a stony expression on his face.
Schuchardt, who has served several jail sentences for anti-war and anti-military protests dating back to the late 1970s, was later charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, and was being held in the York County jail in Alfred, Maine. The charge was based on "statements he made that disrupted the continuity of the church service," according to Sgt. Gary Ronan of the Kennebunkport Police Department. A separate demonstration nearby supported the U.S. war effort.
Bush, asked as he left the church whether he was troubled by Schuchardt's protests, replied, "Not in the least."
The president has had little direct contact with anti-war protests since Operation Desert Storm began last month. On several occasions during last fall's political campaign, protesters holding up "No Blood for Oil" signs interrupted his events, but he has been largely shielded from demonstrations.
Today's service unfolded normally at the simple, white-framed church, which dates to 1730 and was packed with worshipers. After welcoming "the Washington branch of the family," the Rev. Patricia Adam asked members of the congregation to offer prayers or concerns. Schuchardt stood and in a firm voice said, "I have a concern. Think of the 18 million people of Iraq: half are children under the age of 15. There are children just like the children sitting here. We must think of what it means to be bombed by more than 2,000 planes every day."
As he continued, saying he would "speak for the poor and those who are suffering," another person in the audience cried out, "Enough!" When that did not quiet him, the congregation rose spontaneously to sing "God Bless America."
"I am glad you spoke," Adam said, which prompted Schuchardt to begin again. "I am guided by the spirit," he said. "We are called to be peacemakers. This is a vicious, immoral attack."
"This is not a political forum. . . This is a church of God. . . . Get out of here," a voice cried out.
Schuchardt sat quietly while Adam delivered her sermon, in which she emphasized that it was important to listen to people who disagree. At the end of the service she invited the congregation to sing "The Lord's Prayer." "Before we sing, I have a word," Schuchardt said. At that point, local police, who had warned Schuchardt not to disrupt the service, moved toward him. He went limp, as in passive resistance, and was dragged from the church.
"I am the voice of the voiceless," he shouted. Once outside, he shouted again, "God abhors this bloodshed. It is a crime for the rich to attack the poor."
Schuchardt had driven to Kennebunkport early this morning from his home in Ipswich, Mass., where he and his wife are members of the House of Peace, a small center for Vietnamese orphans. Schuchardt's wife, Carrie, who accompanied him, described the children they care for as "leftovers from the last war."
For more than five years, Schuchardt lived in Jonah's House in Baltimore, run by Philip Berrigan, a former priest and well-known anti-war activist, and his wife Elizabeth McAlister. Schuchardt was a member of the Plowshares Eight, who broke into a General Electric nuclear warhead component plant in King of Prussia, Pa., in 1980. He later served time in prison for the incident.
A former lawyer who quit practicing to lower his income as a way of avoiding federal taxes, he has spent more than a decade protesting the military and the development of nuclear weapons. In 1977, he disrupted a service in Washington that President Jimmy Carter had been expected to attend.
Schuchardt's wife said he has refused bail and has begun a water-only fast. He will be arraigned on Tuesday, police said.