August 17th, 2012
11:40 AM ET

Conservatives see Family Research Council attack as more evidence of what they call war on religion

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Washington (CNN) - For many conservative Christians, this week's Family Research Council shooting that wounded a security guard and that the FBI is investigating as a possible act of domestic terrorism was hardly a one-off attack.

Rather, they say the incident is the latest evidence in what they allege is a growing war on religion from the left, an offensive they say extends from the Obama White House down to the liberal grass roots and even foreign governments.

“It's easy to brush aside this incident as one act of a crazy man until you consider the past two weeks,” activist Dana Loesch wrote on the conservative site Breitbart.com in a piece titled “A literal war on religion?”

Like other conservatives and officials at the Family Research Council, Loesch tied the shooting to recent criticism of Chick-fil-A, the restaurant chain that recently came under attack for remarks its CEO made that appeared to oppose same-sex marriage. CEO Dan Cathy said he supported "the biblical definition of the family unit."

Conservatives decried the outspoken opposition to Chick-fil-A - which included some high-profile American mayors saying the restaurant chain wasn’t welcome in their cities - as evidence of the purported war on religion and religious liberty.

The suspect in the Family Research Council attack, Floyd Lee Corkins II, was carrying 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches in his backpack - along with a pistol and extra ammunition - and told a security guard, “I don’t like your politics,” before opening fire Wednesday, according to a criminal complaint filed by authorities.

“The Family Research Council is affiliated with Chick-Fil-A,” wrote Loesch, who is a CNN contributor, on Breitbart. “Chick-Fil-A came under fire due to the free speech of CEO Dan Cathy by militant anti-Christian and anti-free speech activists.”

The American Family Association, a conservative evangelical group, also tied Wednesday's attack to what it said was a broader liberal offensive.

"This near-tragic incident marks an alarming turn in our cultural battle over values," the group said in a statement Thursday. "The left’s war on religion and Christianity has now gone from symbolic to literal."

For decades, conservatives have alleged a liberal war on religion, dating the effort to the 1963 Supreme Court decision that outlawed state-sanctioned school prayer.

Conservatives renewed their argument this year after an Obama administration rule that requires employees to be given free contraception coverage in health insurance plans, even if they work for a Catholic institution.

A recent campaign ad from presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney says that "President Obama used his healthcare plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against their faith.”

In a press conference Thursday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins pinned blame for the attack partly on the Southern Poverty Law Center, which had labeled the council a hate group over its pronunciations against homosexuality.

While saying the alleged gunman was ultimately responsible, Perkins said that he "was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy."

“The cornerstone of our society is freedom of speech and freedom of religion,” Perkins said. “If we lose those, we lose our future.”

In an interview with Fox News Channel, Perkins framed the incident as an attack on Christians everywhere.

“Terrorism is designed to intimidate, to drive people back and make them fearful,” he said, adding that the incident was designed to scare “the Family Research Council and by extension family values supporters and Christians across the nation.”

Liberal groups said efforts to paint the Family Research Council incident as an attack on religion were disingenuous.

“Religious Right groups have long equated any criticism of their positions or tactics as attacks on their freedom of speech and religion,” the group People for the American Way said in a post Friday on its “Right Wing Watch” site. “Now they are taking it a step further to say that critics must stop calling out their hateful rhetoric and naming it as such. ...

“FRC was not labeled a hate group because of a simple policy disagreement, as FRC's backers would have you believe,” the post continued. “The SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) cited very specific examples of FRC's wildly inflammatory anti-gay language."

But Erick Erickson, a conservative blogger and CNN contributor, framed this week's attack as part of a campaign against Christianity that extends past American shores.

"Christianity has become an acceptable target for an increasingly secular western world," he wrote in an e-mail message. "In much of Europe and Canada, preaching orthodox Christian tenets about gay lifestyles, etc. can see a preacher punished by the state.

"While the left routinely accuses mainstream Christian leaders of intolerance," he continued, "what many Christians see in turn is a secular media and society showing increasingly open hostility toward Christians for believing what secular society considers incorrect values."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity

soundoff (900 Responses)
  1. Danny

    This is America and one of the greatest things we have and always will fight for is freedom of religion. As Christians gain political power and try and impose their beliefs on others that do not agree there will be push back. That you can always count on. Religious/political countries include Muslim nations and great Britain. Maybe you could practice there. You may not impose your beliefs on me. Thank you.............

    August 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • classified

      you are as wrong !

      August 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • mike

      its not freedom from religion, its freedom of religion.

      February 7, 2013 at 10:16 am |
  2. N.Shapiro

    Shaved head? 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches? Gun?
    Sounds like one of the 'Family Research" types went even further off the rails!!

    August 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Rejoice then !

      If it is true , a war on religion, then rejoice According to the bible , Jesus says to rejoice when these things happen in Matthew 5:10-12... 🙂 🙂 🙂

      August 20, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  3. Kebos

    It's more the war on stupidity.

    August 19, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • stupid followed to its logical conclusion

      becomes atheism

      August 20, 2012 at 5:54 am |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today!

      "Aetheism is not . . .", under the name "stupid followed to its logical conclusion"
      wrote: becomes atheism

      (In any event, I seriously doubt that she will ever get her job back at the 'jesus r us' fortune cookie factory.)

      August 20, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • stupid followed to its logical conclusion

      is religion

      August 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • giving up thinking all together

      is religion.

      August 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  4. Bootyfunk

    look at the face of FRC. Perkins is a face of evil in our country. this man is the enemy of human rights and an advocate for ignorance.

    August 19, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      Look at this face:

      Earlier this month, Ann Romney’s dressage horse, Rafalca, competed in the 2012 London Olympics.

      In 2010, the Romneys took more tax deductions on their horses than most Americans earn in a year. According to The New York Times, the couple “declared a loss of $77,000 on their 2010 tax returns for the share in the care and feeding of Rafalca.”

      Census Bureau statistics show that the mean yearly per capita income for individuals in the U.S. between 2006 and 2010 was $27,334.

      August 19, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • truth be told

      Truth is not evil or ignorant.

      August 19, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today!

      truth be told declared – "Truth is not evil or ignorant."

      Now truth – I don't think I said you were evil and ignorant. Retarded – most certainly.

      August 19, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • truth be told

      So you are also bippyfink ! No wonder your posts are so disjointed and disconnected from reality.

      August 20, 2012 at 5:53 am |
  5. Gamma

    Math and science are both tools in the war against religion. They should be abolished at once.

    August 19, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Onterryo

      Hahahahhaha...~wiping tears of laughter from my eyes~...good one!!.

      August 19, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Veritas

      Well in Texas, they're trying to remove critcical thinking from the currilculum

      August 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Jake-413451

      For thousands of years religion has waged war on secular thought and often put to death those who simply did not believe the most popular fairy tale of the realm.

      Now that atheists are saying "You need to a) prove your sky daddy exists and b) prove your writing are from that sky daddy if you want us to base society on his alleged writings" and religious folks are crying foul.

      Must be tough being a believer. I remember how much my daughter cried when she was told Santa was a myth. The umbrage fundamentalists show demonstrate why we have to kill myths while the believers are still children, they are become dangerous when they reach adulthood.

      August 20, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • billdeacons

      cite an instance of Christians putting someone to death for not believing please

      August 20, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • Science

      The Inquisition..... the Crusades.....

      August 20, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
  6. Jack

    Hello folks. Everyone is cordially invited to visit – thestarofkaduri.com

    August 19, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  7. GrampaSez

    Refreshing to see a fair article on CNN, which usually is "ground zero" for those who would wish to wage war on "religion". This was a good article. (While recognizing that it is ALSO fair for LGBT to feel there's a war on THEM. Children of illegals feel there's a war on THEM. Each race, and each gender sees war on THEM. Obama and Sol Alinsky are all about fostering and manipulating divisions between groups. We need more "we need to be tolerant", and less "YOU need to be tolerant of US". We need LESS of "hate america first", or "the EARTH or the PLANTS or the ANIMALS are MORE IMPORTANT than people".)

    August 19, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Ian Shields

      You're stretching it, Grampa.

      August 20, 2012 at 5:20 am |
  8. Oregon Alley Cat

    I am amused how the religious right tries to push their beliefs on others but will cry "Pursecution!" the moment they get even the slightest pushback.

    August 19, 2012 at 2:49 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Is a guy going into a building armed and shooting a security guard what you consider "pushback"?

      August 19, 2012 at 2:52 am |
    • duckforcover

      Why does it become a 'war on religion' as soon as the bullets start flying the other direction? "Good Christians" have been assasinating doctors, blowing up churches and advocating violence against others on a regular basis for decades. Is that really what Jesus would do? Not the one I know.

      August 19, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>" "Good Christians" have been assasinating doctors, blowing up churches and advocating violence against others on a regular basis for decades."

      Please give examples of such. I think that the last doctor here in the states was killed was over a decade ago over the issue of abortion. Now since you call those "Good Christians" ...

      ....James Craig Anderson, a African American killed by a group of Whites in Mississippi in 2011. Since that was more recent ..is it fair to say that .. "Good Whites" killed him?

      ...Stephen Pitcairn, a White university student was killed by a group of African American teens in Maryland in 2010. Were they "Good Blacks"?

      Sorry dude, folks have been killing and beating folks since forever. Or, should we go to a few feminist blogs and websites and see who they blame for the ills of the world? They would tend to forget the labels of Atheist and Christians and just focus their hate based on simple gender alone.

      August 19, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'Mark from Middle River' is an instance of the circu-mstantial ad hominem fallacy.


      August 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Apologies but again you are stretching your labeling and again you are wrong.

      But, allow me to point to where your bias lead you. DuckForCover used the term "Good Christians". That would be a Circu'mstantial ad hominem attack because he is attacking an entire group , what he defines as "Good Christians" and attempt to define label them. Basically he is presuming that "Good Christians" as a whole would act in such a manner.

      "It is can be common to try to dismiss an argument by attacking an entire class of people who presumably accept that argument. " Source http://atheism.about.com/

      Now, I showed the error in his reasoning because you can do such to so many different groups that would also say that there was difference within the group. Such as Good Black and Bad Black.

      I do admit, I enjoy the banter but again, all some has to do is know what a fallacy is and not use bias view points. Such as you do. That's all it takes a bit of research and education.

      August 20, 2012 at 5:35 am |
    • Rejoice then !

      @duckforcover ... Good Christians ? 🙂

      come on now. No where in the bible do we see any behavour condoning violence as that of Christians ..
      The forst three generations of Christians were all of them non violent... See? Revelation 6:9-11 that's the fifth seal ... 🙂

      August 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Latest post by 'Mark from Middle River' is an instance of the ad hominem fallacy and includes non sequitur elements.


      August 20, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  9. Daniel Knoll


    the murder of the man was deeply wrong and hateful, and please question the BS response from the FRC that this is something any sane gay person or organization would condone or support...it's important to add that the same FRC group that is now ironically using and co-opting the "Hate Crime" legal status terminology, regarding this truly hateful event, is the same group of far-right folks who have openly criticized and condemned the same issue, calling it wrong inappropriate, and veto-ed it, if in a political position to do so...
    conservatives don't drink the far-right Cool-Aid too quick.

    August 19, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • Daniel Knoll


      August 19, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Daniel Knoll


      August 19, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • Daniel Knoll

      so yup, i tried three times, and i failed each time to leave the link-sorry-human

      August 19, 2012 at 12:22 am |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    August 18, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Tina

      Does your Jesus wear a thong?

      August 18, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • are you

      as diseased as your question?

      August 18, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Tina

      Show us that you aren't too embarrassed and wimpy, and answer the question already. Does your Jesus wear a thong?

      August 18, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Veritas

      Did you pray for some imagination? It didn't work.

      August 18, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine -year- old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      August 19, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things,

      August 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Really? We've been praying for you to get over your OCD fit and say something different. I guess prayer changes nothing. Your Depends probably needs changing by now.

      August 20, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Jesus

      Why yes, underneath my robe I DO wear a thong. Bright red, if you must know. Mary Magdalene gets off on it, if you know what I mean.

      August 20, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  11. slickmick67

    That last quote takes the cake. Nobody is hostile to what christians believe, they can believe whatever fairy tales they want. What concerns people is what christians attempt to impose on the rest of us. Calling them out for spreading hatred and bigotry is not an "attack" or "open hostility" it's stating the truth. When your preacher says gay boys should be physically punished, or that gays should live surrounded by an electrified fence, or that they don't deserve the same rights and privileges other Americans have, that's hateful, and to call it so is only being honest.

    August 18, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Watch out, they will attack and kill you for making fun of skyman. They take Him very seriously for some reason.

      August 20, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Rejoice then !

      @ bible clown... the sky God yo speak of expects us to rejoice when we are persecuted..for righteousness sake...

      if Christians do not rejoice when persecuted then their wordk must not be for righteousness sake...This means in America that we see few Christians rejoicing in persectuions .. something wrong! 🙁

      August 20, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  12. Sam Yaza

    but their right the is a war on religion,.. and no not the one they started with the pagans, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, but the one they stated with humanity,.. humanity is breaking off the shackles of the tyrant god,.. its like i sad and all "when the earnest feeling of love becomes sin the tyrant god will fall" "it was never my place to dethrone God i left that to the hands of humanity"
    humanity is finally realizing god just holds them back he punishes them for thing he does not like not because there wrong but because he finds them wrong, he did not create this world he is a lair and a destroyer, and people are finally realizing it

    by by Yahweh,.. i can smell my freedom now,.. i cant wait too be able to dance again around the maypole with humans again.

    love and peace

    August 18, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      @Sam Yaza: "I can't wait to dance around the Maypole..."

      Who's stopping ya? Certainly not Christians, Jews, nor any other religious group....

      Possible victim mentality?

      August 18, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  13. Jesus is the most powerful figure known to mankind (Fact)

    Matthew 25:41-"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."

    August 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      In the Bible I see a Jesus that probably did exist and one that was grafted onto the original story for the purpose of instilling in people whatever fear, awe, etc. the early church fathers felt was needed to establish Jesus as the focus of their church. I can believe in the first one, a man who, in his day, tried to reform and sum up Judaism during a really difficult time in history with a simpler way he thought people could live with. I can't reconcile that man with the one you're quoting.

      August 18, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      obviously you never heard of Sun Wu Kong (he was like the prehistoric version of chuck Norris, sun wu kong is so powerfull he can do a black flip around the world from were he stands), Cu Chulainn (god d@mn he's hot♥♥, Scathatch(my personal favorite, remindeds me of my self when i was young), Hercules (the dude is my half brother what more can i say, Perseus(we kinda had this thing, hes a jerk and i don't want to talk about it) or any other demigod

      August 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • sam stone

      opinion, not fact

      August 18, 2012 at 8:14 pm |

      sam needs training.

      August 18, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Veritas

      Do you have any proof for that?

      August 18, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • Galactus is the most powerful figure known to mankind

      "Galactus in actuality is a sort of god. He is beyond reproach, beyond anyone's opinion. In a way he is kind of a Zeus, who fathered Hercules. He is his own legend, and of course, he and the Silver Surfer are sort of modern legends, and they are designed that way." Jack Kirby

      August 19, 2012 at 1:41 am |
    • tallulah13

      I don't know... Gilgamesh was pretty bada$$.

      August 19, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      Sure. And He's coming right back, and meanwhile we can give you all the money to hold for him, right? You guys kill me, unless I'm well-armed.

      August 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  14. Nietodarwin

    The Taliban is a hate group, and we've killed Bin Laden and gone to war against the Taliban. The GOP IS the American Taliban. We will fight this war with votes, and we will win.

    August 18, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      They took the Gay marriage vote to the public and it has lost many times. This shooter felt that he must then go the terrorist route and take a gun into a building of unarmed people and "win" the war his way? Bin Laden could not beat the United States in a direct war so they decided to fly four jets into the buildings and "win" the war their way.

      It looks like the terrorist is this guy, not the entire gay community and supporters, but this guy is no different that Bin Laden.

      August 19, 2012 at 2:02 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      " This shooter felt that he must then go the terrorist route and take a gun into a building of unarmed people and "win" the war his way? " Exactly like the Christian terrorist who shot up the Holocaust Museum. You conservatives said he was only a crazy man, not a terrorist. I guess we know the truth now!

      August 20, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      no, I don't think it is fair to call the GOP the American Taliban. The GOP consists of a bunch of politicians who will do anything or say anything to get elected. (Arguably, one could say the same thing of the Dems.)

      The American Taliban is a loose confederation of religious evangelical fundamentalist ideologues who aligned themselves politically with the GOP. The GOP of course wants their vote and will tell them what they want to hear to get elected.

      August 20, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.