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. Floyd from Ilinois

    Could the Religioous Right's paranoia possibly be any more obvious?

    August 17, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Nathan

      of course it was nothing more then paranoia huh. Especially with it happening right after the gays all got up in arms over Chick Fil A, with the fact that this crazy gay boy had chick fil a sandwiches and made the remarks he did before it all went down, I would say they have every right to be concerned.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Your right Nathan.

      In fact the gays have been consipiring against your preachers for generations.

      They just wave their rear ends in front of your pastors, and they go off the deep end trying to get themselves some.

      All it would take would be some Aids positive martyrs to sleep around in your clergy, and the war would be over within a week

      August 17, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV



      August 17, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Nathan

      actually I do not buy into any of the jesus or god junk, its all a fallacy to me. Now run along with your ignorance

      August 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  2. Lokari

    If there is a war on religion, let the record show that religion fired the first shot.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • bspurloc

      religion has caused the death of more humans than anything else... and christianity is the #1 offender

      August 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  3. blah9999

    What about that conservative Nazi that killed a bunch of Sikh's? That's not a war on religion?

    August 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Lokari

      Well, that's not a religion that the FRC cares about...

      August 17, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • asdf

      lol well, it's not a war on THEIR religion, so they don't care.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Nathan

      actually blah it had nothing to do with religion but with the color of their skin you ignorant fool.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • blah9999

      What makes you say that, you bigot freak.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      the colour of their skin was incidental. At this point we must assume that it was ignorance that killed the Sikhs.
      – Igorance that turban wearing is not the calling card of terrorism.
      – Ignorance that Sikhs are not Muslims.
      – Ignorance that Muslim Americans are not terrorists.
      – Ignorance that white-supremacy is evil.

      You dare to apolgize for bigotry and hatred. How can you look in the mirror without shame?

      August 17, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Nathan

      show me where I apologized for the guy you weird freak. I was simply making a correction to an ignorant statement fool

      August 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  4. kena.101

    Please keep YOUR Religion out of MY Politics...... I base my opinions on history, facts and reality. Faith is for the politically uneducated, needless to say....

    August 17, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • W247

      What in the world does your comment have to do about this situation? Some lunatic open fired and wounded another person with the intent of killing him and others. REGARDLESS of the policys or politics, this is just not acceptable actions.

      August 17, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  5. sybaris

    War on religion?

    Let's see we have:

    Bibles in every hotel room
    Televangelists 24/7
    God on our money
    Discounts for insurance if you're christian
    God in The Pledge of Allegance
    Radiovangelists 24/7
    Prayer before public events
    Billboards along the highway advertising VBS and "Repent or Go To He11"
    Churches every 6 blocks in cities over 100,000
    God in the national anthem
    Federally recognized christian holiday
    Christian bookstore in every twon over 12,000

    War on religion? More like christian based fascism to me.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  6. Nathan

    im surprised this guy didn't run in and try to smack them with his d!ldo

    August 17, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  7. Nathan

    Here I will make it simple since I see many on here condoning what this man did. I hope there is an uptick of violent attacks of gays all over the country.

    Hopefully this will unleash a full scale war between the gays and the straights. Bring it on ladies, we got something for you.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Daniel in Denver

      Way to take the high road, man.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Nathan

      its ok Daniel, I get down and dirty with the best of them.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Daniel in Denver

      Well, I rather believe that's NOT what Jesus would do. Your life, though.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Nathan

      I dont believe in Jesus, Daniel so your statement is irrelevant to me

      August 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Nathan I think you may find the nerds will be the key

      Poison gas is FAR more efficient than bullets

      Four nerds, five grand and six days make two or three passable nuclear "dirty" bombs that would shake this nation to its core.

      Throw in a bot net attack against some commodities markets and a silver bullet to knock out a few million cable boxes, and we could have the Jeebus Jocks bending over for Satan himself.

      Throw in some aerosol dispersion of some botulinum toxin at a few football games and a cell phone virus, and we could probably have a new world order within a week.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  8. Will

    FRCclaims that there is a War on religions, but what they really means is they only care about Christian religion no ALL religions, right?

    August 17, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • asdf


      August 17, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  9. Nathan

    I don't consider it a war on anything, but I do find that it shows just how intolerant the gays are and how when they don't get their way they are prone to acts of violence.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • CBinKY

      Prone to acts of violence? Please show where other attacks by GLBT individuals against bigots have occurred?

      August 17, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Nathan

      How many names would you like me to present to you son.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Mike

      I'll take that list of names, 'dad.' Put up or shut up.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • asdf

      Funny- absolutely nobody has suggested that the shooter was himself gay.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • blah9999

      I feel that liberal group protests tend to get more violent than conservative group protests, but a single conservative protester is more violent than a single liberal protester.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Nathan

      Jeffrey Dahmer
      Andrew Cunanan
      Gilles de Rais
      Luis Alfredo Garavito
      Randy Steven Kraft
      Michael Swango
      Andrei Chikatilo
      Fritz Haarmann
      John Wayne Gacy

      Thats just a few

      August 17, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  10. Brian

    Seriously Jimmer? You think its just fine and dandy for Christians to be persecuted? Please tell us more of your belief system. This should be good.

    Yes....Christians are the ones full of hate....

    August 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • CBinKY

      It isn't Christians being persecuted. It is @sses pushing their beliefs on others and CLAIMING to be Christian.

      There are many GLBT Christians and allies. Learn to recognize that fact.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • W247

      C Binky, this man had every intention to break into this facility and kill as many people as he could. This is an assumption we can make by seeing how much ammunition he had on him. Why is this acceptable behaviour to you?

      August 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  11. Bregsman

    War on reliion? When is war religion not together? Seems like religion has been making war on the world for much longer. Maybe the world is sick of it?

    August 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • W247

      So you are condoning violence as a way to get their point across?

      August 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  12. William Demuth

    It's about damn time

    I want a body count.

    Carpet bomb the Vatican

    Nuke every country wear people wear religious clothes.

    Open camps to re-educate the red neck children

    This is gonna be WAYYY cooler than the Olymimpics were!

    I got to reread my copy of the Turner Diaries, get ready to fight fire with fire!

    August 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Where's the NRA declaring that Floyd Lee Corkins II was exercising his 2nd amendment rights to rebel against an inst'tution he disagreed with?

      This Floyd Lee Corkins II (so far innocent until proven guilty) is likely to be convicted as a criminal, and in my opinion, deservedly but it really frustrates me that here we have an incident of gun violence – not portrayed as "insanity" by the gun apologists, but a "license to kill" from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

      I thought "guns didn't kill", and any blame on 'wrongful' use of guns was the fault of the shooter. Now the fault is a liberal conspiracy to attack the faith-based community?? What dreck!!

      A few weeks ago we had a white-supremacist kill peace-loving Sikhs and there were hundreds of posts here wishing that he got his target right. Here we have a lone nutter who mangaged to wing someone and its "liberal conspiracy" time.

      The hipocracy of the religionists makes my brain hurt.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  13. asdf

    Still waiting for the conservatives to decry the "war on medicine" after the dozen or so attacks on abortion clinics in the last 5 years.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Mark

      Couldn't have said it any better, except extend the time period.
      You reap what you sow.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Greg s

      redirect the spotlight somewhere else eh!

      August 17, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • W247

      so two wrongs make a right?

      August 17, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  14. Reality

    Hey, let us not confuse the utter stupidity of some individuals with the truth about religion.

    A summary of the truth. Details available upon written request:

    Putting the kibosh on religion to include Mormonism:

    • There was probably no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • There was probably no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

    August 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Greg s

      So you are advocating violence against those who believe in God?

      August 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Reality

      Please note the comment about the utter stupidity of a few individuals i.e. individuals on both sides of this debate. Tis a matter of education not violence towards anyone.

      To wit:

      It is time to replace all religions with a few rules like "Do No Harm" and self-conversion of all houses of "worthless worship" to recreation facilities and parks.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  15. asdf

    Holy hell. Do these people have any idea how many whackos there are in the South, midwest, and southwest who are part of "christian militias"?? Those nutjobs are just waiting for a spark to go off. If the conservatives keep this up, it might actually turn into a literal war!

    August 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Greg s

      I think your confused this was an attack by a left wing terrorist against a conservative organization. Not the other way around.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • asdf

      @greg – I am aware. There are various groups who call themselves "christian militias" and are preparing for some kind of American holy war. I don't want what is obviously fear-mongering to ignite it.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  16. Ivan

    Nobody is more oppressed than the absolute majority, holding a complete, cultural hegemony. Wait...

    August 17, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The United States has never been a favourable place for white, christian, land owning males.
      They weren't even given the right to vote until 1776!

      August 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      technically 1787 – but I fully agree with the sentiment.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  17. ProperVillain

    "In an interview with Fox News Channel, Perkins framed the incident as an attack on Christians everywhere."
    I'm a Christian and this wasn't an attack on me. The FRC is full of a bunch of lunatics whose logic only works in the insulated environment that they have created for themselves...

    August 17, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  18. sam stone

    Of course they feel like this is a War On Religion. They like nothing more than to paint themselves as victims

    August 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Nathan

      hmmm well it does appear that they are victims here, I don't remember hearing of the FRC marching into a gay club or organization and trying to shoot it up

      August 17, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • sam stone

      so, nathan, do you feel that this incident is representive what those who disagree with the FRC do, or want to do?

      August 17, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • sam stone

      nathan: perhaps the FRC does not shoot people up, but they sure seem interested in deny others' their civil rights

      August 17, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  19. AverageJoe76

    It more about questioning the foundation on which they've based their faith system on. They will not admit to the obvious, which is; IT'S A BOOK. It was written by some very insightful old dudes. And it seems insightful old dudes were speckled across the globe, because many people have different books.

    Look..... find me ONE, ........I mean....ONE undeniable shred of evidence that even ghosts truly exist. That's small potatos next to proving God. If someone can do that, it'll open the eyes of many disbelievers. Because now we've confirmed an afterlife. Or at least an alternate dimension of consiousness. Idk.

    August 17, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Greg s

      The simplest way to prove God Exists is to look at the Jew, There history and Prophecy from the Book that pertains to them.

      Dont waist your time looking for a spirits of your dead Grandmother, Ghosts of folks who once lived do not exist.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • bigdaddy33

      Can you see the air? How do you know it exist? Can you see your brain? It probably doesn't exist.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  20. jimmer

    After persecuting non believers for 2000 years, they have the audacity to whine about persecution.

    August 17, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Bob

      Exactly, jimmer. Totally agree.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      This is like HeavenSent's persecution complex from yesterday.

      A majority of 78% of the population (Christians) claims they are 'under attack' from 4% of the population (Athesists and Agnostics). It is absurd.

      It just goes to show how unstable the foundation of their philosophy is if the 'truth' according to the 4% quakes the 'truth' according to the 78%.

      Matthew 7:26
      But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.

      And for you bible apologists, yes, I am deliberately taking this quote out of context and reversing its meaning.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Greg s

      So you think they should line up and let this fella shoot them because they deserve it.

      Aren't you special!

      August 17, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Geg s,

      to whom do you address your absurd remark?

      August 17, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • jimmer

      "So you think they should line up and let this fella shoot them because they deserve it"

      Well I'm kind of torn. On one hand, yes, I think they deserve it.

      On the other hand, I don't think it's fair to execute people who are mentally retarded.

      So I guess we'll just have to spare the christians.

      August 17, 2012 at 5:27 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.