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. JDinHouston

    Huh? The FRC has declared war on certain people in America, and they're suddenly surprised someone is pushed to fire back? Using violence is wrong and the guy deserves to be in jail, but the reality is that the FRC wants to destroy people's lives. This wasn't an attack on religion, it's more like a guy doing absolutely the wrong thing, but pushed to self preservation.
    At least that is the same defense that has been used by these same religious nuts when one of their followers has shot up a clinic or bombed a building. It works both ways – tone down the rhetoric and the hate and live and let live.

    August 17, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Blah, blah, babble JD, as Isaiah 3:9 already condemned you.

      August 17, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  2. Jesus was an lying megalomaniac who got what he deserved

    true story!

    August 17, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Woe to you liar.

      Isaiah 3:9

      August 17, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  3. DJFarkus

    Yeah, because people who work at places like Planned Parenthood have never been subjected to systematic terrorism, abuse, bombings, and the like.

    August 17, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  4. chunk a chunk

    Radical chrisitans are not happy until they can act like victims.

    All the rest of america wants from these people is for them to practice their faith on their own time and not taint our public laws and policies with them.

    August 17, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Our laws are taken from the OT which is the Torah.

      August 17, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  5. SPW

    The war on religion goes both ways.

    Religious communities have never turned their cheek to so many things in the past, it was only a matter of time until people started yelling louder than them.

    August 17, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Isaiah 3:9 already told us about your condemnation.

      August 17, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  6. GE in MD

    Seems to me that the "Christian Right" has been making inflammatory comments about atheists, LGBTs, prponents of samesax marriage, teachers of evolution, etc.. They've declared Holy War on modern civilization. And now, these theocrats, they're surprised about being in the cross-hairs at last? They should look in the mirror. There's been a good bit more right wing violence and threats of violence against "Liberal Groups" than the reverse.

    August 17, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      GE, so you'd rather hear lies that will send you to the eternal flames than Christians telling you Jesus' truth so you can reside with Him for eternity. Talk about being conditioned Isaiah 3:9.

      August 17, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  7. dan

    Radical right rubbish, nothing more.

    August 17, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      PR political rubbish during election time.

      August 17, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  8. humtake

    Tax church's and then I will listen to what they have to say. Otherwise, I will be something that is becoming very rare in this country...someone who lets others speak their opinions and not get angry or abusive when their opinions do not match mine. More people should try it. It makes life so much more gratifying on a day-to-day basis.

    August 17, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • nofaith

      Yeah really. Cuts down on ulcers too. 🙂

      August 17, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Does Isaiah 3:9 ring a bell with you?

      August 17, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  9. rob

    “The cornerstone of our society is freedom of speech and freedom of religion,” Perkins said. “If we lose those, we lose our future.” - Umm, no it's not. Umm, no we won't.

    August 17, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of our country.

      August 17, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  10. rob

    Yeah, like if the SPLC didn’t tell us the FRC is a hate organization, we wouldn’t already know it. Perkins is a cretin for using the shooting to attack a respected organization like the SPLC. The Family Research Council (and the American Family Association) is a repulsive, bigoted hate organization. The SPLC is right to call them out on it. The Bible says you reap what you sow. The FRC sows hate, intolerance, and damage to people's lives, and now that's what they're getting back. How long do they think people are going to accept being discriminated against before fighting back? It's just too bad the shooter didn't get that hate-monger Tony Perkins.

    August 17, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Speaking of scriptures, Isaiah 3:9 ring any bells with you?

      August 17, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  11. Derek

    Killing shouldn't be condoned on either side but I seldom hear the cry of a conservative war on liberty when a Doctor who handles abortions is murdered or an abortion clinic is bombed? Conservatives want to cry religious persecution to distract people from the persecution they do unto others on a regular basis.

    August 17, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Did you get conditioned that way in school?

      August 17, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • nofaith

      HeavenSent – Please tell me what you are advocating. From what I have been reading from your posts it seems like you are demanding a literal interpretation of the old testament be applied as law in this country in order to "save us from ourselves." If so, please be advised that this is exactlly the kind of thinking that crashed two aircraft into the World Trade Center in 2001 and led to a 10 year war in Afghanistan. Is that what you want here at home – a civil war to protect your religion? You need to back off the bibilcal "tho shall nots" and actully read what people are posting. We athiests and liberals are not out to harm you or anyone else. Believe what you want – it's a free country, but please don't advocate the implementation of OT law into 21st century America. The consequences of this would be horrific in a nuclear armed world.

      August 17, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  12. D

    And yet, I'm sure they still consider all the clinic attacks and murders to be the work of isolated, lone nutjobs ...
    Cry me a freakin river!

    August 17, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  13. TheVocalAtheist

    What do these religious people think? They're going to openly approve of bigotry, deny women's rights, remain tax-exempt and use county, city and state services literally for free and we're just going to dumb-down? The don't pay any taxes yet want full rights, I think not. The shooting was wrong, absolutely, but come-on, quit your whining, you have been given way too much as it is. Just stay out of our schools, our government and our lives. If we want to believe what you believe we'll go to your churches and give you some of our money. And you say, we're a charitable organization? How much money do you really spend on charity, dollars not lip service? The Red Cross is at 91% leaving what, 9% for admin. What about the rest of you? What percentage are you at? Maybe 23-30%? Explain that one.

    August 17, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  14. Biblical Marriage

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFkeKKszXTw&w=560&h=315%5D

    August 17, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Comment

      Double penetration dildos should have a flange in the middle. Otherwise one of you will get more than your fair share.

      August 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  15. tony

    I seem to remember an ad with gun sights over "liberal" politicans, paid for by right wing conservative groups, just before Gabby Giffords was shot in public.

    As ye sow, so shall yer reap!

    August 17, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "remember an ad with gun sights over "liberal" politicans, paid for by right wing conservative groups"

      And heartily endorsed by Ms. Sarah (½ a gov.) Palin.

      Someone suggested here earlier that the plea bargain in Arizona has spared us from learning the embarrassing details of those targets actually motivating Ms. Giffords' attempted assassin.

      August 17, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  16. DaveinCincy

    If you you dress up like a women, but are a man...you're a WEIRDO!

    August 17, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • But

      If your a woman that dresses up as a man you're not a weirdo – that's discrimination!

      August 17, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Hindu

      if you are a man but dress up like Napoleon Bonaparte - either you are crazy or it is Halloween ... same for man dressing as a woman ....

      August 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • nofaith

      Unless of course youo are a right wing Nazi like J. Edgar Hoover. Then it's OK, right?

      August 17, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • nofaith

      Yeah....what about Halloween? Oh yeah, that's weird and sinful too! Scuze me for the memory lapse.

      August 17, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • D

      Nothing wrong with a little cross-dressing; it's just clothing, for cryin out loud.
      If you don't like it, don't do it!

      August 17, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  17. Hindu


    God does not interfere with the minute free will of the individual soul. If the individual soul wants to act whimsically and independent of God then to fulfill his wish he is sent to this material realm (as opposed to God's spiritual realm – our real home). Deluded by forgetfulness of God and his own essential spiritual nature, the individual soul experiences various evil and good scenarios that are of his own free will's making according to law of karma. But he does have an escape by surrendering to the will of the Lord and stop acting on his own account and by acting on account of the Lord, he can escape this material realm and return back to God's kingdom.

    God is able – but he does not want to interfere in soul's exercise of free will. Love by nature is voluntary, it cannot be forced by Lord's ability to do so. It is up to individual soul whether to love God or not. Lord's omnipotence is seen in HIs owning both the spiritual and material potencies.

    He is willing – that is why he sends prophets and saints and makes available scriptures – Lord Himself comes in form of many incarnations – He is willing and therefore He is calling us through saints and scriptures but we are not listening – again He does not interfere with our choice not to listen. Love by its nature cannot be forced.

    SO he is is both able and willing – and He is all merciful – but ARE YOU READY?

    August 17, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • D

      Blah blah blah nonsense blah blah blah ... WHAT?

      August 17, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Hindu

      @D - sorry forgot to mention that post was not meant for animals - only for humans. animals wont get it.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • nofaith

      Hindu: You wrote: "sorry forgot to mention that post was not meant for animals – only for humans. animals wont get it." – Hey – this post beneath you. Its the kind of thing that led to the story we're all talking about. Based on what you and I have been discusing about human happiness, you can do way better. 🙂

      August 17, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  18. Tim

    A "War on Religion"? No. The acts of one lone individual with possible mental health issues isn't a war.

    Nor is the FRC a religion, it's an advocacy group, a lobbying group, seeking to use its money and influence to deny rights to others and to prevent the government from treating all citizens equally based on personal characteristics. It is little more than a modern day rendition of the White Citizens Councils of the american south of 50 or more years ago.

    Further, the FRC is a hate group, a group that goes beyond advocating a political point of view to condemning and seeking to oppress others, seeking to deny them basic human and social rights.

    Groups like the FRC ratchet up the political rhetoric to shrill levels. It is no surprise that a person, in his mental instability, saw those actions as direct threats to himself and his friends. Sadly, incidents like this would be better used as times to lower the rhetorical volume and seek to calm tempers and find ways to work together instead of using them as ways to divide us further.

    August 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  19. RoadRunner, Albuquerque, NM

    It is tragic that the FRC has been inviting this kind of attack with their rhetoric and provocation of other innocent people. The last place you want to be spouting your views that harm others is in church or in a public accomodation, b/c you will definitely be a sitting target for those who don't happen to appreciate your undermining them. Would FRC like to be targeted for harm? Obviously not! So why would they want to go out of their way to target others, such as GLBT. This is not religion; this is profiting at the expense of others, and paybacks are hard. Moreover, Perkins and his cohorts make it sound as though there is a "war" against religion from the left. He is once again negating the powerful presence of true and genuine Christianity up and down the ranks of the Left, that calls for social justice. These are religious people indeed, and a force that the Konservatives "religious" or otherwise, are going to have to contend with. So if there is a war, it was the FRC and other Konservatives who started it. You can't just rattle other peoples cages, and not expect them to rattle yours. So, to the extent that FRC's strident and hostile rhetoric and knowing untruths are permeating society, and instigating violence, they also have the power to stop it. Perkins should apologize to the victims of anti-gay hate crimes, and condemn the violence that is being perpetrated against them. He is only thinking of himself, and that is a good way to become isolated like some of the other loud-mouth Baptists in Kansas. Toward reconciling and bringing peace where there is growing division, I call upon Perkins to publicly condemn the violence and discrimination that has been visited on the GLBT community, and to show that he is, indeed, a man of peace.

    August 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • nofaith

      "This is not religion; this is profiting at the expense of others, and paybacks are hard." - Sorry to disagree RoadRunner, but religion and profiting off the backs of others are one and the same thing.

      August 17, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  20. Shine222

    It's a liberal war on Christianity that has been going on for over 50 years now

    August 17, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • RoadRunner, Albuquerque, NM

      Liberals by far and large are Christians. The only reason why Konservatives don't want to acknowledge this truth is b/c they don't want to be exposed for what they are: PHONIES!. And Kons are too busy making war against other people, under the false guise of christianity, and blare the airwaves with their lies and hypocrisy. Konservative "christians", i.e., phonies, are their own worst enemies, but they have learned to bring in big money contributions from willing suckers who will listen to theier petty lies.

      August 17, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • nofaith

      Oh, you must mean a retaliation for the war christians have been waging against the rest of us for the better part of 2000 years? Right? Go read history. Your religion sucks the life and the joy out of everything it touches.

      August 17, 2012 at 5:34 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.