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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. Bertman

    The SPLC is spot on with their labeling FRC a Hate Group. They surely are. I'm sorry, but Jesus would not know most of the "Christians" who claim to be Christians. Would Jesus be carrying a gun? Would he be living in a mansion? Preaching in Mega-Churchs? I hardly think so.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      For that matter – and I've harped on this before – exactly where in the Bible was Jesus reported to have been spoken out against homosexuality? Absolutely nowhere. Not once. This anti-gay Christian agenda has nothing to do with Jesus, and everything to do with rationalizing personal prejudices.

      August 17, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      Sorry – reported "to have spoken out..."

      August 17, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  2. Bill C

    The FRC is nothing more than a hate group, seemingly against anyone who is not a christian, and against good christians who do not believe as they do. They fight against women's rights, gay rights, pro choice groups, any anyone else even if they are also christians. Most of the mass shootings and terrorist attacks like that of Timothy McVeigh are done by good christians. so I guess they are OK. Seems as if the white supremacists are OK too, since they are good christians who hate blacks, muslims, Sikh's, and other groups. God save us from the FRC, and bigots like Perkins.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Phil Soul

      Don"t forget Eric Rucolph, a follower of the "Prince of Peace">

      August 17, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
  3. noteasilyswayed

    It is the right wing Christians who usually exhort wackos to kill doctors who perform abortions and to force non-believers to conform to their dogma; ironic that now they are saying that they are being persecuted. Right wing so called Christians seem to be determined to incite their followers to violence. In this instance, a wacko who happened to sympathize with the other side took matters into his own hands. I am just glad that he did not shoot up anyone at the Chik-Fil-A

    August 17, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  4. Bible Clown©

    How ludicrous! He needs Prozac©.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  5. actually Jesus

    Hey guys, it's actually Jesus, here to remind you (again) that I never said anything about gay people. In fact, I pretty much spent my whole life talking about the poor and social justice and all that. Pretty weird how you guys mixed that stuff up. Anyway, just wanted to let you know that if you get into a war over the gays in order to defend your religion, that certainly would not be MY religion. Also I was a pacifist so the war thing is pretty much out. I mean, the most violent thing I ever did was yell at some guys in the temple.

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

      Thanks Jesus! ohhh, btw, could you destroy the NRA, and rebuild it in three days as a build-a-bear store?

      August 17, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  6. m0rtis

    For a supposedly peaceful religion, jeeze they do love throwing the word "war" around.

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

      peaceful religion, demented people.

      August 17, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  7. jbrookechao

    Speaking as a Christian, this is not a war on "Christianity". This was one fringe extremist targeting a different extreme. Still wrong, but not a "war" on religion of Christianity. If anything, it's a war on those that would seek to mandate their beliefs into law, and place legislative restrictions on the general population, based on those beliefs, whether the rest of the country shares those beliefs or not. Not saying what he did was justified – it's not. But as much as I wholeheartedly believe in some of the principles espoused by the FRC, I do not, in any way shape or form, support their legislation of those ideals. Live the Gospel. Don't legislate it.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Christ loves you too

      I hope you truly find the love of Christ and realize that this country is and has been for a while 'legislating as you put it' liberal views that go against the Faith of the founding fathers. The war on religion in from the Democratic pulpit (Mr O) as we force them to supply abortion pills and change God's definition of marriage. If you don't believe in that then that is further proof that you are not 'living the gospel'. Jesus went to the temple and turned over the tables and protested, he did not shy away! Love without compromise is not Hate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      August 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • asdf

      @Christ Loves...

      You claim these ideals are not in line with our founding fathers. Actually, our founding fathers were mostly deists who would not be considered even close to modern christians. Also, abortions were commonplace at the time of our country's founding and not even socially frowned upon, so I guess that doesn't line up either.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Canada

      Don't even worry about Legislation, and politics. It's a Game for man. You "believers" really need to read and understand the wisdom of the Bible. You sound like the village people shouting WITCHES! Did not our lord say, "Whomever loves the world, hates me. whoever loves me, hates the world." ? he says to obedient to governement, but first and foremost be obedient to him. So go and vote, but do not stir political trouble and turmoil. YES THEY ARE GOING TO LEGALIZE GAY MARRIAGE, are you surprised? why? It is written that things deteriorate in the end days, that moral corruption and sin blossoms. at this point, the time is short. Be in charge of you're own goverment, the one between you and the Lord.

      August 17, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • My belly hurts

      No, this country has not been legislating against christian views of yours and all our forefathers.

      This country has been legislating freedoms that you chiristians withheld from other-believers or non-believers for the longest time. Taking slavery away from our white forefathers wasn't such a bad thing. Giving women voting and equal rights only seems right. Allowing people to love and marry who they like is only fair (and does not prevent you to marry in your own traditions.)
      So, stop whining. Secular laws have given this country freedoms that christians starting from the Puritans tried to hold back and control. Not any more. Amen.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Canada

      Agree'd Belly hurts. But now they're ticked they have to pick their own cotton, and cook their own meals.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  8. hsiaobai

    Maybe it's just a sign that there are too many guns available to unstabel people? Maybe the FRC will have a little more empathy for the family of Dr. Gearige Tiller who was killed by a proponent of "family values".

    August 17, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  9. Michelle

    This from the people who bombed clinics and murdered doctors. You reap what you sow, guys.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Right on!

      August 17, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  10. Bubba™

    If I was "at war with religion," you'd all be dead. I am not inefficient. Poor churches, they need a hug. What crybabies.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  11. chicago7

    There is no war on religion in this country. There is a "war" on some conservatives' attempts to turn our form of government into a theocracy.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • marjee123

      Correct you see what is going on not like the dittoheads and Fox numbs.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  12. Shawn

    What about the Gabby Giffords shooting? They said not to correlate the Palin Targeting on the website to the act of a crazy person, but let's throw that out when it favors their cause. Get a grip.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Bubba™

      They cut a deal with Loughner to keep him off the stand, where he would have said he shot her because of Sarah Palin's website. Now they'd like to paint bulls-eyes on us all.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • marjee123

      How about the right wing cable shows that targeted Dr. Tiller and told everyone his name and where they were likely to find him. In a church ,,handing out scripture flyers to the congregation.

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

      Actually Loughner was more sympathetic to liberal issues.

      August 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  13. NoSacredCow

    The same people who foam at the mouth over Sharia law are the same folks who have no problem telling a woman what she can't do with her body or that gays can't have a family or or or or or...

    it's all about the money and nothing else.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • RAWoD

      Money collected by selling fairy tales and fear.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  14. WASP

    what amuses me is religion has been at war with itself for centuries and they are complaining now about knowledge over taking supersti-tion? lmfao

    August 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  15. Jeffision

    It's shameful that FRC is politicizing the acts of one mentally ill individual. Such paranoid grandstanding. Was the massacre in Colorado a war on Hollywood entertainment? Of course not...it was the act of a mentally ill person, the same as this incident. The FRC wishes there was a war on religion so that they can wallow in martyrdom. Yawn...crawl back under your rocks, wackos.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • asdf

      Actually, considering that Holmes was a registered republican, I think it was the beginning of the GOP's war on hollywood. I mean, they've been talking about it forever.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  16. Thomas

    Perkins is an idiot.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  17. O Really Now

    o Plllleeeeaaaaazzzzzzeeeee!! Next they will claim baloney is really a bovine conspiracy!

    Besides – it is not terrorism to take the trash out...

    August 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Greg s

      Your condoning murder against those you dont agree with, How Un-American of you!

      August 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Bubba™

      "Your condoning murder against those you dont agree with, How Un-American of you!" Some people deserve to eat a bullet. That's as American as a six-shooter, pardner.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Greg s

      So the right should just call open season on the left and Kill them all and be done with it right pardner!

      August 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Greg s,

      so what is the second amendment for exactly???

      Are you one of those people who say the founders insisted on making sure that the people could rise up and revolt against an inst'tution that they thought was wrong?

      Or is this guy just 'another crazy guy with a gun', like the Aurora shooter, the Sikh shooter, the College Station shooter etc?

      August 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Greg s,

      You think he can't be a crazy guy because he shot at an organization that was somehow connected to religion?

      What about the Wisconsin shooter? Was that not 'war on religion'?

      August 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  18. tnfreethinker

    Why do Christians believe freedom of religion only applies to them? And separation of church & state only applies to other religions? The hypocrisy is amazing.

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

      Please specified where Christians believe that freedom of religion only applies to them. Just because they believe in something that others don't agree with does not imply hate or stopping others freedom to practice their own religion. Only people like yourself and the media project such ideas. If you choose to not believe or believe in something else, that's your rights. I choose to believe in Christianity and that's my rights.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
      • tnfreethinker

        What we choose to believe is our right. That is the only thing you got right in your post. Imposition of Christian rules on our society, such as banning gay marriage, is just one example. The media and people like myself project such ideas because it is true.

        August 17, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  19. therichness

    What a load of crap. This random attack is no more "part of a war on religion" than the Aurora attacks were part of a "war on batman movies." Just because two events or ideas coincide doesn't mean they correlate or have a causational relationship.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • O Really Now

      Or movies where Adam West isn't Batman

      August 17, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Greg s

      The man who opened fire on those in that theater has yet to say why he did it, While this man was planing on killing as many of these folks as he could and he made it clear what his reasons were.

      But like most liberals he was clueless on how to use a hand gun, You shoot for the chest not the arm.

      When you read the post on this column you can see very clearly that the left has no qualms at all in using violence against the right, But if the right uses violence against the left O my God! Yall are such hypocrites!

      August 17, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Greg s,

      then you haven't read many of the posts here.

      Floyd Lee Corkins II (while still innocent until proven guilting) appears to have commited a criminal act. He deserves the due process that will likely convict him. Shooting people is wrong.

      The left does have qualms about using violence against the right. You are wrong. Happy now?

      August 17, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  20. MarkOH

    First off, NO where does it say the shooter was GLBT, just that he volunteered a few times at a center.
    Second, if FRC is SO concerned about the victim, why are they using this to raise more money? For themselves?
    Third, so, using this logic, the shooter in Colorado was actually an attack on movies? He was a white male, should we claim all white males are against movies?

    The shooter is a sick individual. Perhpas he has a friend or family member who is GLBT and he snapped at all the hate rhetoric coming out of the FRC. It is not justifiable but HARDLY a war on Christianity.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @MarkOH.

      In the last few weeks we have:
      – 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 ...

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

      This is so much dreck. It sickens me.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:35 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.