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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. MarkinFL

    Considering that the right-wing war on liberals has been literal for many years I just see more major hypocrisy here.
    There is NO excuse for violence from either side of these issues. Ever.

    However, they are trying to equate all protest against their bigotry with this one single violent act.
    This is just more of their same tactics in attacking their critics. The FRC does far more than voice an opinion. They spread lies and deception to create fear and loathing of those that they oppose. It is not their beliefs that make them a hate group. It is their actions.
    Hundreds of conservative groups exist without being called hate groups for a reason. They do not act like hate groups. The FRC walks like one, talks like one and swims like one.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @MarkinFL

      Yes... well said.

      Peace...

      August 17, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  2. Rosslaw

    FRC lives for victimhood as they seek to deny rights to others. Let's pull the tax exempt status of all churches.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      amen!!!!

      August 17, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      R'amen!!!

      August 17, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      I'm afraid it's about time to do that. This will hurt a lot of small-town churches where they actually still believe and aren't just hatemonsters, but how do you tell them apart? Ban them all.

      August 20, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  3. Nonny Mouse

    Oh for –

    Unreal. Christians legislate their opinions on people who don't share their beliefs, they murder doctors trying to help desperate people, they burn down places of worship of other religious, and ONE guy goes after them and suddenly they're the victims of everything?

    It's the problem of trying to identify with a martyr deity, suddenly the height of holiness is be martyrs themselves. But when one of them goes off, it's a random nut who isn't truly one of them.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Jim

      Agreed. The stone throwers are whining that someone had the nerve to throw one back.

      August 17, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  4. jamest297

    Do these same conservatives see the Aurora, Colorado event as a war on the movies in general or just a war on Batman?

    August 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Nonny Mouse

      LOL!

      August 17, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Jim

      You sir, just won the internet. 🙂

      August 17, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Whichever gets them the most money.

      August 20, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  5. Colin

    It's pretty simple:

    1. There is no all-loving, rule-setting sky-fairy monitoring every person in the USA 24-7 for the purposes of reward or punishment in an "afterlife" (whatever the hell that means).

    2. People are increasingly realizing this.

    3. Therefore laws and groups based on pleasing the sky-fairy are increasingly unpopular and being phased out.

    If I were a typewriter salesman or manufacturer of black and white TVs, I would have felt under attack, too.

    Religion is passé. Move on.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Nonny Mouse

      But the Flying Spaghetti Monster has promised us a beer volcano in the afterlife!!! I BELIEVE!!!

      August 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Colin

      Yep... it's the last gasp of the extreme religious right.

      Peace...

      August 17, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • OTOH

      Hi, @therealpeace2all,

      Don't forget to check PRISM's response to you on the other article. https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/13/first-on-cnn-atheist-group-targets-presidential-candidates-faith-with-billboards/comment-page-48/#comments

      Sorry, I butted in, but I couldn't resist.

      Peace to you too (and even peace to PRISM, poor guy)

      August 17, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Jim

      Ugly truth spoken. Ever so slowly, society is coming to realize that while spirituality can be good, much of what is preached in organized religion is BS. Religion is losing its repressive control as more and more people are starting to think and feel for themselves, and religious people don't like that.

      August 17, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @OTOH

      Hey -OTOH...

      No, I hadn't forgotten. I read all the responses. When the believers arguments start to get into the 'absurd' as did -Prism's, then I just leave it alone. I saw your post... It made me chuckle, actually 😀

      No problem 'bu tting in... actually, I'm happy when other's jump in so i don't have to always deal with some of the utter non-sense responses.

      Peace...

      August 17, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • guest

      I feel sorry for you. When judgement day comes you will be singing a different toon.

      August 17, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • guest

      I feel sorry for you. When judgement day comes you will be singing a different toon.

      August 17, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • A. Fountain

      "Religion is passé. Move on." Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, said something remarkably similar this week: “the church has little influence and almost no power" and denominations will follow that path. "Denominations such as our own . . . I think they will decrease in influence." Source: The Christian Post

      August 18, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Roger Rabbit

      " you will be singing a different toon" Ooh! Can I sing like Betty Boop? Puh-leeeze?

      August 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  6. bspurloc

    religion is at war with common sense it aint 49ad anymore

    August 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  7. Godoflunaticscreation

    The war has been raging for centuries. One man decided to fight back.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  8. Huebert

    A loan gunman does not equal a war on religion.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Nonny Mouse

      Hear hear.

      August 17, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • jamest297

      Any chance you mean a LONE gunman?

      August 17, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  9. Tom

    I enjoy how a "lone wolf" would kill a non-christian doctor who performs abortion; however, whenever someone attacks them, it's a war on religion. F those guys, seriously. Guess they just wanted a way to make more money for taking people's rights away.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  10. jeff

    Nothing more than another nut.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  11. DJNAM

    Hate is a very powerful tool ... use it sparingly ...

    ... by the way ... why is this on page 99 of the morning paper? ...
    .hmm

    August 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  12. Jim

    CNN should be ashamed of even posting this article. Religion has been waging a war against the intellectual and social progress of humanity for most of recorded history, and now because of one shooting by one nut job, religion wants to claim victimhood? BS.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • CarrotCakeMan

      I appreciate your sentiments, but it's good that CNN exposes the wild hypocrisy of the anti-gay Hate Cult.

      August 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Jim

      Personally, I'm glad that they are bringing this out in the open to expose just how sinister the extreme religious right has been, and continues on being.

      Peace...

      August 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • DJNAM

      semi correct

      for over a thousand years, Religion kept the fabric of civilization together in Western Europe ...
      ..
      ... but I agree, I'm not sure the effort was worth it ...

      August 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Eric G

      @DJNAM: I would argue that religion held back the progression of western Europe.

      August 17, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Jim Lahey

      @DJNAM

      You really believe that garbage? Just like the Nazi's kept the Jews under control in the 40's?

      August 17, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Jim

      Carrot: Agreed.

      Also, I want to make clear that I think this was a very bad, very stupid thing to happen, for all sides of the argument. I am very glad that the incident was so limited; it could have been MUCH worse. I despise those who use religion as a justification for bigotry, but I also don't wish this kind of thing on them. I would much rather that people like the FRC would get a grip on their own issues, and quit trying to force their misguided beliefs into law and society. As a species and society, humanity should have left bigotry behind long ago.

      August 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      "for over a thousand years, Religion kept the fabric of civilization together in Western Europe ...

      If by fabric you mean pillaging the poor and living on the backs of the downtrodden all while violently attacking progress and reason and science as tools of the devil in order to maintain control while convincing millions that their dirty hands have nothing to do with their plagues but their sinful thoughts against the Church that have them lying in heaps and piles along the roadways. Thank goodness for religion keeping "civilazation" going, right? I think it would be far fairer to just state that "Religion kept the fabric of civilization... and let any unbelievers freeze to death."

      August 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  13. CarrotCakeMan

    Until and unless the anti-gay Hate Cult can prove the Southern Poverty Law Center wrong about the lies the anti-gay Hate Cult has told about LGBT Americans, we'll all have to assume the SPLC is correct and that the anti-gay Hate Cult just can't accept the truth.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  14. JW

    Wow, so divisive on the board...So...anyone agree this was a horrible thing to be done? That the cultural "war" should not be played out like this from either side?

    August 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • CarrotCakeMan

      The anti-gay Hate Cult sows violence by constantly trying to demonize and dehumanize LGBT Americans. I'm sorry the guard was injured, but there's no escaping the anti-gay hate cult's own culpability in inciting violence against LGBT Americans.

      August 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @J.W.

      Hey buddy.... So, how specifically would you like to see things expressed by both sides ?

      Peace...

      August 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • JW

      for starters...maybe without guns and violence.

      August 17, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @J.W.

      Of course... that was a given. I was asking what's your plan to stop the anti-gay hate and rhetoric ?

      Peace...

      August 17, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  15. Mass Debater

    How many wars has Faux News declared now anyway?

    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'm guess the only real war here is the one on logic, reason and truth. I'm just glad Fox News pundits always shows up to the battle of wits unarmed.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Jim Lahey

      If they want a war....

      August 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  16. SCOTO

    Here we go with the "war on......" refrain. As soon as any group isnt having it all their own way any longer then they need to represent that as a "war" being made on them. Tying this to a crazy lone gunman is irresponsible hyperbole and its disgusting.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  17. Jim, San Antonio

    Who has been murdering the abortion providers? The hate comes from both sides.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  18. William Demuth

    I find great irony in this

    Anyone with a drop of understanding about human nature who reads the bible IMMEDIATLEY realizes Christ was gay.

    That’s why the gnostic books were banned by the church. If you read them, they damn near spell it out.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Eric G

      12 guys, all wearing robes and sandals............

      Is that why the Catholics think that you should kneel and take the body of another man in your mouth?

      August 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  19. Sean

    Looking at it objectively, it's clear the media and DNC are anti-Christian. Still, this nutcase shooter acted alone and is solely responsible for his actions.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • CarrotCakeMan

      Why, because the legitimate media doesn't spread the anti-gay hate speech this anti-gay hate Cult wants spread?

      August 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Eric G

      Correct, he is a nut.

      However, have you considered the possibility that Christians are against everyone else? Why is it that Christians should be allowed to have different views from others, but if others have different views than Christians, the Christians are being persecuted?

      August 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • chubby rain

      I think you need to brush up on the definition of "objective". There is a significant difference between "less religious" or "more secular" and "anti -Christian".

      August 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Hugh Jass

      "Looking at it objectively, it's clear the media and DNC are anti-Christian." Maybe it's "clear" to you, dingleberry. The rest of us think you are a pretty sad psycho case. Get help.

      August 20, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  20. Alex in NJ

    No one is excusing the murder of abortion doctors. No one is excusing Tim McVeigh. No one is excusing the Sikh Temple shooter.
    The only people excusing anything is the Left excusing this shooting. Every ideology has their crazies, and none of them are justified.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Alex in NJ

      " The only people excusing anything is the Left excusing this shooting. Every ideology has their crazies, and none of them are justified."

      Nice 'generalization', -Alex... "The Left" infers... (all). I don't know, maybe there are *some* on the left that are excusing it, but don't a s s ociate everyone in your world-view.

      Peace...

      August 17, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Alex,

      nobody on the left is exusing this guy. He will be tried, he will likely be convicted. He deserves to be punished. This is a crime.

      How is a right wing religionist accusing the SPLC of issuing this guy a 'license to kill' in anyway equivalent to the 'left exusing this shooting'?

      August 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Alex

      All movements have crazies. We had a few with names like Washington, Jefferson and Madison, who all wanted to use violence to overthrow the existing paradigm.

      They had the radical belief that certain insults were intolerable enough that they warranted killing.

      We now call them heroes.

      The winner writes history, and one group of the extremists we are now creating shall be presented in our great grandchildren’s text books as heroes, and the losers as villains.

      Harriett Tubman is a classic example. If the Union had lost the civil war, rather than being remembered as a hero she would have been branded a traitorous n1gger.

      That is the harsh reality of humanity, so don’t jump to conclusions, the wheel has just begun to spin.

      August 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      "The only people excusing anything is the Left excusing this shooting."

      Let's have some fun with generalizations:

      The only people who love shooting doctors in the head are right wingers.

      Christians often send their children to their priests to be molested.

      Christians refute the evidence of the age of the universe and stick to a young 6000 year old earth theory.

      Humans are crazy.

      People like to have their butts played with...

      August 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Jim Lahey

      "The only people excusing anything is the Left excusing this shooting."

      Listen I'm not saying they deserved it... but they deserved it.

      August 17, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      "Harriett Tubman is a classic example. If the Union had lost the civil war, rather than being remembered as a hero she would have been branded a traitorous n1gger."

      That may be for a time, but slavery did win for a long time before it didn't, so I believe even if the civil war we knew had gone to the inhumane slave owners of the south, good and decent people would have risen up again and fought for human rights and eventually we would have told the tale of Harriet Tubman as the true heroine she was, for hero's may be forgoten or never known at all, but they are still the hero's of humanity choosing life, love and respect over greed, hatred, fear and bigotry.

      August 17, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Jim Lahey,

      "They" might have, but that rent-a-cop security guard certainly didn't.

      August 17, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Hugh Jass

      "No one is excusing the murder of abortion doctors. " They totally are. Try googling it. Nebraska or some god-awful place wants to make it legal. As a Christian and conservative, you are completely in favor of this, right? Same as your hero Eric Rudolph? Run everybody, it's a Christian with a gun.

      August 20, 2012 at 12:45 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.