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. Anon

    Hey christards how you like them apples!

    August 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  2. asm_ith

    Perkins said that the alleged gunman was ultimately responsible but "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." Does that mean he would say that he would agree that Sarah Palin gave Jared Lee Loughner a license to shoot Gabby Gifford by her reckless use of targets on congressional district names? Would he come out against Sharron Angle if someone shoots Harry Reid? After all, she said she was "hoping that we're not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems." Obviously, the vote did not get rid of Reid.

    If there is a war on religion, it's because there's a war by religion trying to push itself onto everyone else who doesn't believe the same things as they do, including very religious people of other religions.

    August 18, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  3. Mass Debater

    Another reminder of how many wars Faux News has declared...

    ERIC BOLLING (12/5/2011): In case you didn't know, there's a War on Christmas in America.

    GRETA VAN SUSTEREN (12/9/2011): War on Hanukkah now too?

    BRIAN KILMEADE (4/7/2012): This is the war on Easter.

    ERIC BOLLING (10/17/2011): War on... wait for it... fall holidays.

    BRIAN KILMEADE (10/25/2011): Let's talk war on Halloween.

    DENEEN BORELLI, PROJECT 21 (10/21/2010): ... war on fossil fuels ...

    UNKNOWN PERSON (7/2/2011): ... war on the Constltution ...

    GRETCHEN CARLSON (7/27/2010): ... the war on ladies' night ...

    FOX BUSINESS PERSON (4/2/2012): ... war on fishermen!

    BRIAN KILMEADE (9/26/2011): Can you accept the war on salt?

    STUART VARNEY (9/22/2010): It's the war on chocolate milk.

    MEGYN KELLY (9/22/2010): ... war on sugary drinks ...

    STEVE DOOCY (4/27/2010): War on food!!!!

    MEGYN KELLY (7/21/2010): Is this a nanny state war on spuds?

    SEAN HANNITY (3/5/2012): The liberal media wages a war on conservative women.

    DAVE BRIGGS (7/3/2011): The media is waging a war against conservative women.

    I don't know what word they would use if an actual war started since they have devalued the meaning of the word to the point of being laughable.

    August 18, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  4. Hypatia

    If they're talking about the continued efforts to keep one group from foisting its mythology on another, that started with the founding fathers and continues. These theocrats are treasonous and deluded. We just want to be free FROM religion.

    August 18, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  5. samij

    Hi nofaith, in response to your point about "original sin", that is a Catholic doctrine. Other Christian denominations (Protestants) absolutely do not believe in "original sin". There are Christian denominations of all sorts. Not all are Catholic, not all are fundamentalist. There are many of us right in the middle, who simply seek to follow the teachings of Christ in the modern world, and who firmly accept and embrace science, evolution, and reason.

    August 18, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • Sid

      "who firmly accept and embrace science, evolution, and reason." -wow, great. Now leave the pathetic religious myths behind and you'll be almost caught up with the modern understanding of the world.

      August 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • samij

      To Sid, you are the one who is immature, pathetic and ignorant. You had better be more respectful of the beliefs of others if you want to be taken seriously, and be respected for your right to have a lack of belief.

      August 19, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  6. Arvoasitis

    Standard paranoia, right out of the handbook of propaganda: We are under attack; the liberals are the enemy; oh dear, what shall we do? The answer to the question is, of course important: shall we pray, demand new laws, start shooting liberals in return? All because of one deranged individual, who can hardly be called liberal; after all, liberals are the lest likely go around shooting people.

    August 18, 2012 at 7:38 am |
  7. AGuest9

    "War on Religion"? No, people are just tired of stupidity and discrimination.

    August 18, 2012 at 5:39 am |
    • HeavenSent

      AGuest, that's why God labelled nonbelievers fools that refuse to learn His wisdom.

      August 18, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • JWT

      And it showed that god is an intolerant moron.

      August 18, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • on judgement day

      Look for aguest and jwt they \will be there with the Oh sh it look on their faces.

      August 18, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • AGuest9

      Ooooooo... Try scaring me with your "on judgement day" nonsense. It may have worked on peasants during the Middle Ages, but I really need to tell you, The Enlightenment took place, and America is FINALLY experiencing The Enlightenment II.

      August 18, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      If god is truly good, reasoning atheists have nothing to fear. If, on the other hand, god is not good, then neither believers nor non-believers have any reason to hope.

      August 18, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • sam stone

      HS is an inbred gash who spends her time on her knees....in front of the boys in her manufactured home community

      August 18, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • sam stone

      judgement day is a bad joke to keep morons in line

      August 18, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
  8. Tony Perkins


    August 18, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Excellent post, know the dangers of the ho mo se xual child abusers. And some idiots want to see these dregs "married" and give them adopted children?

      August 18, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • Sid

      And let's not forget the warnings about hetero child abusers. There are probably more of them.

      August 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  9. Godoflunaticscreation


    August 17, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
  10. Godoflunaticscreation


    August 17, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
  11. Reality

    Hey, let us not confuse the utter stupidity of some individuals on both sides 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 11:17 pm |
    • ....


      August 18, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • Sid

      Another great Reality post. Keep it up Reality -you are a major dude.

      August 18, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  12. Groo22

    They Gay community should be very, very concerned with this. Morons that said people deserved this because they had different views than you, be prepared because somebody is going to use this as an excuse to come into one of your gay hangouts and kill a bunch of people. Mark my words. You folks that said this was justified have broken a dam down with your words and some of you are about to be flooded out. fools.

    August 17, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • manbearpig

      Grow up. Making threats on the internet is for cowards.

      August 17, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      Groo is more likely to go to a gay club to pick up some power bottoms.

      August 17, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • Tony Perkins

      No idiot. I want to take rights away, that God gave to every American. I hate gays, because I am gay, and cannot accept it.
      Some day, I will be caught, just like every other gay-hater, with a boy in a bathroom. Then I will cry on TV, and ask God's forgiveness. That's how it works here. Now send me some money, dagnabit.

      August 18, 2012 at 2:07 am |
    • Mark From Middle River

      The sad thing is that Groo22 has a sad point. Those that would champion this attack have learned nothing from recent history. Folks will just strike back, and then they will strike back .. on and on.

      August 18, 2012 at 2:16 am |
    • Mass Debater

      "Folks will just strike back, and then they will strike back .. on and on."

      Welcome to Palestine...

      August 18, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  13. Jack

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

    August 17, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  14. Jack

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

    August 17, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  15. sam

    This one dumbass with a gun is no more a war on religion than that idiot shooting people in Aurora was a war on Batman. Drama whores.

    August 17, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      Righteous Bigots.

      August 17, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Well, that is the problem with opening salvos. I do believe their is a war on Religion but it is the same as a small group such as the Taliban declaring war on the United States. In the end there are few countries or groups that somewhere on this planet someone is not calling for its demise.

      I just think that with the internet and so many ways to isolate ones self to only be with those that believe and think the same, we will see a rise in this types of incident. Just look at how many post on this blog start with comments that the poster is surprised to encounter opposing beliefs or views to their own.

      August 18, 2012 at 2:30 am |
    • Mark From Middle River

      whoops ...wrong "their" 🙂

      August 18, 2012 at 2:30 am |
    • HeavenSent

      sam, typical atheist spreading lies before the trial even starts.

      August 18, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • Hypatia

      they've been that way ever since their boy got on the wrong side of the Romans

      August 18, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Mark..there is no war on religion.. there is war on ignorance and religion appears to hoard most of it..so it gets the brunt. Religion can dish out the hate, but it cannot take any criticism....you are right in one aspect..the internet has opened religion to ridicule after its long period of abuse of humanity.

      August 18, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  16. Kira

    Meanwhile more than 1,500 antigay hate crimes occur yearly while FRC and other hate groups continue to spew their bigotry.

    August 17, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • pervert alert

      There is no gay only qu eer.Truth is not bigotry. Qu eers the people that gave the world AIDS

      August 17, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • nofaith

      pervert alert wrote: "There is no gay only qu eer.Truth is not bigotry. Qu eers the people that gave the world AIDS" – actually AIDs began when a simian disease jumped from monkeys to humans. Go look it up.

      August 17, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • sam

      pervert alert is one of many screen names used by the same little lonely troll. Don't pay any attention to it; it has less sense than a spam bot.

      August 17, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      sam, that troll belongs on your team of dirty fighters.

      August 18, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • AGuest9

      And HeavenSent is another, or perhaps the SAME, troll.

      August 18, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Tina

      HeavenSentUnhealthyUntruthSayin, just answer the question: Does your Jesus wear a thong?

      August 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    August 17, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • nofaith

      Jeez- keep posting that...it might help 🙂

      August 17, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Tina

      HeavenSentUnhealthyUntruthSayin, stop wimping out and answer the question: Does your Jesus wear a thong?

      August 18, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  18. Jeff Lucas

    I'm to the point where,, if somone gets their panties all twisted in a knot when they hear me say "Jesus" or pray, I'm just gonna cuss them out. I'm tired of the intolerance coming from the left. THey're supposed to be all-inclusive, and thatshould include Christians too.
    but really, What God fearing Christian who understands his Bible in his right mind be a liberal?

    August 17, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • nmmell08

      B/c Jesus was a bleeding heart liberal who said take care of the poor, love your neighbor, love the sinner, love your enemies.

      August 17, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Skip

      What did Jesus say to do when slapped on the right cheek? I am quite sure He does not want you to represent him with cursing.

      August 17, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • nofaith

      Uh..how about a dude who lived roughly 2000 years ago named Jesus of Nazareth? From what I remember he was all about social and economic equality, treating all men and women as brothers and sisters, and for disrupting the status quo. My kinda guy.

      August 17, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • sam

      To you, 'the left' likely means 'people who don't think like I do'.

      Also, Jesus was the biggest liberal ever. I think he'd disown the lot of you.

      August 17, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • stormrider2112

      You can pray and talk about Jesus all you want. You're free to worship whatever divine being you wish. Just remember one thing: when your religious expression impedes on someone else, they have their right to dismiss you.

      After Tennessee Republicans said that bullying gay kids was part of their religious expression, I have no sympathy for whatever wrath their abuse begets. Anyone talking about "stomping a mudhole" in gays shouldn't expect a lot of respect.

      August 17, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • manbearpig

      No one can "understand the bible in his right mind". It's a lunatic book of fairy tales.

      August 17, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • AL GORE


      YOU ARE 50% MAN AND 50% BEAR AND 50% PIG

      August 17, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Jeff Lucas...nice for you to show how religion is such a divisive force for humanity.. Pray and say Jesus all you want..it will not do anything..never has and never will..its a placebo .

      August 18, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Jesus

      If I catch you cussing people in My Name, I'll do to you what I did to the money-lenders in the temple. Really, I ask you to do ONE THING, love your fellow man, but can you get it right? NO! What's wrong with you people?

      August 21, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  19. huhb

    The hostility isn't towards Christianity, it's towards Christians' very much mistaken belief that their religion gives them the right to not have to share the world with others.

    August 17, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • sam

      It's nice that someone can see that.

      August 17, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • stormrider2112

      Yeah, it's war on religion when it's actually "we can't get everything we want!" The Religious Right is doing their damnedest to impose their warped view of morality on this country all the while anything that supports what they oppose is an infringement on their religion. I wonder what Hindus think about the government giving Michele Bachmann dairy farm subsidies, or what Jews think about Famous Dave's having a killer pulled pork sandwich. Probably not a lot, since they understand that they don't have to engage in the activities, even though some wish to.

      August 17, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
  20. John Summers

    Well if you ask me. What goes around comes around.. so karma finally bit them back. You spread hate (and FRC DID SPREAD HATE).. you cannot cry went hate finds you. I do not agree with what took place however they had it coming. It is not about religion, its not about republican/democrat. Its about right and wrong.. and FRC has stood on the side for wrong, injustice, and the Un-American Way. America is about equality and freedom for all its citizens. This country is based on religious freedom (and therefore lack of religion if one chooses) FRC says that you are allowed to be free and be a normal citizen IF and ONLY IF you are religious and have the family structure they approve of.. What's Next??? Breaking up couples who marry from different religions? Separating Black/White couples? Where does FRC Tyranny END... I hate to say it.. but atleast someone done something about it.

    August 17, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Jesus

      If he had used a paintball gun, I'd be a lot happier about this.

      August 21, 2012 at 12:53 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.