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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. toydrum

    Sorry, no. True conservative Christians can see that the FRC is extremely ANTI-Christian in their words and deeds. They have lied and incited anger and violence against others - stopping just short of calling for violence against others. This is completely counter to Jesus' teachings and for them to call themselves Christian is a mockery of all he said.

    August 17, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  2. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    @HeavenSent

    this one (naturally I had to look it up):
    The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves.

    Do you mean that the FRC brought this shooting upon themselves for their lies and hatred?

    HS, I'm surprised at you. I don't think the poor security guard at the FRC deserved to get shot at all.

    August 17, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Ooops – posted in the wrong spot. See below!

      August 17, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  3. jesus

    Religion is a war on logic, a war on reality and a war on sanity.

    August 17, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  4. Catherine

    Do you see the irony here? The Family Research Council, which supposedly espouses Christian views, endorses violence especially when the ends justifies the means by which they can sell their divisive rhetoric. FRC says it supports life, yet it favors the NRA and opposes gun control laws. FRC says it supports family values and marriage, yet when the wife goes to work to feed her family because her husband is laid off and demands better pay and work environment, these hypocrites want to yell at her to stay at home and take care of the kids. FRC has the nerve to narrowly define a sacrosanct marriage according to the narrow evangelical Protestant Christian definition; yet, forty-five years ago, these hellions were opposed to interracial marriage upheld laws that banned interracial marriage. It takes organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center to expose hate groups for what they really are: dangerous and manipulative.

    August 17, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  5. EnjaySea

    There's no war on religion. There's only a war on religion's war on non-believers.

    For the first time, the shoe is on the other foot, thereby causing the believers to weep and gnash their teeth.

    August 17, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Hiram

      The Radical Conservatives, in trying to claim that there is a "War on Religion" going on are simply proving themselves to be hate-filled Liars (once again). What actually is going on is their War on Human Rights.

      August 17, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  6. shinden58

    I find it rather funny the the FRC is saying this is a war against religion. Christians were the first to spill blood when they started shooting up women's clinics and killing doctors they disagreed with. Their own message of hate is finally comming back home to roost. Wonder if the religious conservatives will still favor guns for everyone if their leaders were dropping like flies due to gun violence? You reap what you sow. It is best to treat eveyone with respect and compassion, if you don't there is always trouble down the road. Something conservative christians never learned.

    August 17, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Isaiah 3:9 ring a bell with you shinden?

      August 17, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

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

      No it doesn't.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • truth be told

      Yes it does

      August 17, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Ahurit

      Going out and actually getting to work on something changes it. Saying words to nothing does nothing except waste breath.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • shinden58

      Christianity is not healthy for children and other living things. Look at all the wars in the name of religion. Go get your imaginary friend in the sky to protect you.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • nofaith

      Prove it. Real simple. If you want people to listen to you and believe you, then prove that you are saying is true. Provide examples of how prayer changes "everything".

      August 17, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • just sayin

      Prayer has changed lives for centuries since creation. God bless

      August 17, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I wonder if prayer will ever change your hatred of atheists.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • just sayin

      Going to work without a plan is useless, prayer provides the plan. A good man prays, a great man acts on prayer. God bless

      August 17, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • just sayin

      Truth is not hatred. God bless

      August 17, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • JWT

      Good and great men have no need or god nor religion to be great.

      August 17, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Fred Evil

      Please feel free to demonstrate prayer changing something.
      I'll wait, but I won't hold my breath.

      August 17, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • truth be told

      When atheists gain power they like to mass murder people.

      August 17, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • just sayin

      Did you miss the part about prayer changing lives? God bless

      August 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @TBT,

      when Facist Christians gain power they like to round up h0mos3xuals and put them in death camps too.

      There's even some preachers in North Carolina that prove this theorem.

      August 17, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • nofaith

      truth be told wrote: "When atheists gain power they like to mass murder people." Pleae explain this and provide at least one example that does not involve Stalin or Pol Pot.

      August 17, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  8. Ahurit

    Maybe they should have prayed harder...

    August 17, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  9. TAK

    Exactly how many blacks, jews, gays, doctors and sikhs do right wingers have to murder before someone on the left starts shooting back? And they now act shocked, shocked I tell you, that someone has taken a page from their book. Pot, meet kettle.

    August 17, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  10. nofaith

    BigDizzle wrote" "Advancing your political views inside your own country is terrorism..."

    BigDizzle – I think you meant to write "Advancing your political views (through violence) inside your own country is terrorism." At least I hope so 🙂

    August 17, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  11. Fearless Freep

    When we start feeding the Christians to the Lions again,
    then you can declare a war.

    Other wise keep your religion out of peoples lives and out of the government.

    In other words.......STFU.

    August 17, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  12. Jon

    They keep talking, but all I'm hearing is, "Yay! Something to distract from the gun control issue!"

    August 17, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • stonesrule

      Eleven Chicago police officers are suing the city over claims they were demoted from the mayor's security detail when Rahm Emanuel took office because they weren't politically connected and aren't black.

      "The color of your skin is your sin," the police commander told one of the plaintiffs when asked why he was being demoted and the black officers were not, according to the suit.

      The suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Illinois, contains explosive accusations that the officers had their civil rights violated after Emanuel took office last year.

      The officers charge that shortly after Emanuel was elected in February 2011, the city government began to bring people associated with the Emanuel campaign on board - both those who volunteered on Emanuel's security detail during the campaign and others who were "politically involved."

      August 17, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  13. Snow

    The funny thing I hear from so many comments is that they think liberals and christians are mutually exclusive. one does not automatically mean the anti-other.

    August 17, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  14. royalthird

    Anything conservative gets extremely angry when it is seen. Even if this was a violent attack from a person with liberal politics it should be called just desserts or justice desserts against conservative ideology. Arizona conservative pastor stated "Someone should pick up a rifle and shoot Obama." Conservatives have bombed abortion clinics because they have not gotten their way. They have shot doctors in court rooms and at their offices. The mere fact that a liberal if he is that played the conservatives own violent game and they were on the receiving end of it , the world smallest violin is playing an extremely sad song for you.

    August 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • TheTruth

      And are you, as well as so many others here, so stupid as to think that they represent Christianity? Are you so ignorant of the truth that you think that the Bible condones such behavior? Or do you simply seek excuse for your own hatred?

      August 17, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  15. ben

    there should be a war on religion

    it is the cause of all the world's problems

    August 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  16. Thinks2010

    I don't see why the FRC is saying this gunman attacked them because of their support of Chick-fil-A's anti-gay marriage stance. The gunman had 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches in his backpack. He sounds like a Chick-fil-A fan who was stocked up for a siege.

    August 17, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • nofaith

      Yeah really! He had 15 or 20 of those things packed inthere with all the ammo!

      August 17, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  17. Bill

    When some anarchist anti-christian nut case shot a senator in Arizona not long ago, the hate filed left immediately tried to claim it was conservatives creating an environment of hate. When it became clear the shoter was not a conservative, we heard no apologies. Now that a clearly obvious left wing radical has attempted to do something quite similar, where is His Greatness Barrack Hussein Obama condemning it. Where is the bigoted intolerant Christaphobic, Heterophobic Rahm with his lofty pronouncments. When is the left going to face the sad reality they are morally, ethically and intellectually bankrupt?

    August 17, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Amber

      Well said, Bill. The left makes everyone believe they aren't guilty of anything. And yet, the right is CONSTANTLY called racist when we don't agree. Leftists are the violent prone individuals who are in so much need of tolerance. Instead of not watching a program or choosing not to buy a product, they always want to ban said item. Then, they preach to whatever nitwits will listen that they are so civil and tolerant. Hypocrits that need to be taken out when they act up as they have in the past 2 weeks. Society does not need this sort of person. Obama keeping his mouth shut about this is about as close to approval as one can get. Pathetic piece of lfesh that will become unemployed in a few short months.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • nofaith

      Hey BG – The closest thing that I have found the christian fundamentalists and evangelicals coming close to is Saudi Whaddism – the sect that was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. If you really want to see what we're up against with these christian "reformists" you'll have to do a bit of digging, but the PBS Frontline report on Whaddism circa 2002 is a good place to start.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • nofaith

      Sorry Bill – I posted to the wrong thread 🙂 Happy Friday!

      August 17, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Ahurit

      I'm sorry, but your attacking of the left made me realize anything you spout is bull and not worth my time.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • nofaith

      Amber – I beg to differ, but we of the left are not prone to violence any more then those who subscribe to more conservative views are prone to violence. I would also suggest checking out some recent American history – specifically the GWB legacy of torture and indefinite imprisonment of those suspected of terrorism – or of simply being on the losing side in Gulf War II. If you want to make a blanket accusation like this you damn well better have the facts to back it up – if not you are part of the problem.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  18. GK

    Why is it ART to desecrate a Bible, yet a Hate Crime to desecrate a Torah or a Quran?

    August 17, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Jon

      Because Christians desecrate it enough so now it's not a big deal.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • BG

      You haven't been paying attention if you think those are treated differently.
      How about this: Why is it so easy to scream persecution when you are in the vast majority and routinely step all over the rights of others? Growing up as an Atheist in Georgia, I can't count the number of times I was threatened for not being a Christian. My step dad even threatened to kill me because I refused to say "I love Jesus" and the police that I called for help refused to let me press charges.
      Yet I have NEVER read a news article claiming atheists are persecuted. I'm willing to bet stories like those are skipped over to focus on individual stories where the victim just happens to be a 'conservative Christian', whatever that is.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • BG

      And don't claim you don't persecute when it's the law of your religion to do so. Your 'holy book' teaches you to MURDER people who disagree with your religion; there is no arguing that fact whether you yourself do it or not.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Amber

      It's only ART in a dysfunctional liberal's mind. Decent people would not desecrate the Bible out of sheer resepct.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • nofaith

      Hey BG – The closest thing that I have found the christian fundamentalists and evangelicals coming close to is Saudi Whaddism – the sect that was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. If you really want to see what we're up against with these christian "reformists" you'll have to do a bit of digging, but the PBS Frontline report on Whaddism circa 2002 is a good place to start.

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

      Hey Amber – Thomas Jefferson rewrote the bible. Go check it out.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  19. frenchjr25

    This is interesting after decades of conservative attacks on health clinics, gay pride parades, and the civil rights riots. They really should be ashamed of themselves using this for political reasons. And especially for lying about history. There is no war on religion. The majority of Christians in the United States are moderate to liberal. What this is is a war on hate filled conservative ideologies.

    August 17, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Actually Christians are split pretty evenly. Here's recent (2012 Pew Forum) numbers:
      Republican / Independent / Democrat

      White Evangelical Protestants ...... 49% ... 30% ... 17%
      White mainstream Protestants ...... 31% ... 38% ... 26%
      White Catholics ............................. 30% ... 39% ... 28%
      Black / non-Hispanic ..................... 05% ... 22% ... 69%
      Hispanic ........................................ 11% ... 46% ... 32%

      The biggest variances from 50/50 are white evangelicals and black Americans.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Rettas Vegas

      Shhhh.....don't tell Faux FOX News watchers, the truth may set them free!

      August 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Amber

      Thou will be judged on your views and YOUR hatred of Christians who, by the way, are also God's children.

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

      Amber – I don't believe too many people hate individual christians. It's (to use a mixed metaphore) the Shira style agenda that christian fundamentalist/evangellical groups are trying to impose on the rest of us "non-believers" that we are against.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  20. Brehon21

    More than a little hypocrisy here. When the gun toting nuts attack targets that are already the subject of scorn from the fringe right wing like the Family Research Council and their fellow travelers, such as racial or ethnic minorities or other religions, then there is the sound of crickets. "You can't tell why people do these things. We don't need stronger laws or law enforcement. It is just random." As when the Sikh Temple was attacked by the latest in a long string of mass murderers produced by the far right wing fringe in America, this time not a KKK'er but instead a Nazi.

    "Who knows why these people do these things?" indeed.

    But when it is the FRC's delicate bone being picked: "We know exactly why this happened."

    They like to play around with stirring up racial and religious prejudices, but when some of the chickens may come home to roost in their filthy barnyard seem to be the only time we hear their outrage. Not exactly what you think Jesus would do.

    August 17, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Brehon21,

      yes indeed.

      In the last few weeks we have:
      – A presumed mosque burning in Joplin
      – Aurora shooting. (A sad case of a good protestant boy losing his mind.)
      – Sikh killings (A sad case of a white supremacist losing his mind.)
      – College Station killings (A sad case of a Texas boy who had posters of snipers, losing his mind, according to his Mom)
      – Louisiana cop-killings with automatic weapons (no one's talking about this AT ALL!)
      – A Family Research Council security guard is wounded ...

      SOUND THE ALARM – there's a liberal atheist conspiracy to destroy religion!

      These statements by the FRC are hypocritical dreck. They sicken me.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Rettas Vegas

      Amen

      Independent, women voter

      August 17, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      GOPer, Isaiah 3:9 ring any bells with the likes of you?

      August 17, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @HeavenSent (reposted from above)

      this one (naturally I had to look it up):
      The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves.

      Do you mean that the FRC brought this shooting upon themselves for their lies and hatred?

      HS, I'm surprised at you. I don't think the poor security guard at the FRC deserved to get shot at all

      August 17, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
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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.