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. damo12345

    Since CNN seems to be blocking any posts discussing the matter in detail, I'll go for something short and simple:

    This article is a vile attempt to convince religious conservatives that they are under attack, while covering up the fact that the FRC is a well-established hate group whose leader has appealed to White Supremacists for support in the past, and who has supported those that wish to kill people for being gay.

    August 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Eric G

      I am sorry you had so much trouble posting your thoughts, but everybody already knew that.

      Thanks for calling!

      August 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
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      There's another phrase that someone found, "wo-nderful us" (have no idea what sets that one off).

      August 17, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  2. Albert911emt

    Stop interfering in the private decisions of others in regards to marriage (gay or straight), and healthcare (whether it concerns abortion or any other health matter). You wouldn't like it if anyone tried to interfere in your private life and personal decisions, so why must you do it? Who are you to judge? This shooter is obviously disturbed, and he belongs in prison, but I wonder if one of you religious, self-centered types somehow interfered in his life in some way.

    August 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  3. whatabunchofnonesense

    Why would CNN even put this tripe on its pages? FRC _is_ a hate group, but SPLC didn't give anyone a license to shoot at anyone. And for Loesh and others to blame this on anyone other than the shooter is irresponsible. Funny how they aren't the least bit concerned about the proliferation of guns in this country, even if aimed at them, because most of them are aimed at people and groups that FRC and people like Perkins and Loesch hate.

    August 17, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Blame it on the atheists who had the ethical teachings of Jesus Christ (the Bible) removed from the public school system. The rates of violence, as well as any other issue pertaining to wisdom (what atheists call common sense) sky rocketed since 1962-63 in this country. Now the psychiatric and psychology community, deem themselves gods.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Now the psychiatric and psychology community, deem themselves gods."

      The reason you hate them is because they proved your prejudice is founded on real facts. Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

      August 17, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "prejudice is founded on real facts"

      That was suppose to be prejudice isn't founded on real facts.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • coocoo

      coo coo is back.. want some coco puffs?

      August 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • You're Wrong

      Heaven Sent, and I'm sure you aren't, you got that all wrong. The bible can still be studied in public schools and children can still pray as they wish. What is not allowed is one state-sponsored religion forced on everyone else. It's not just atheists who oppose that. It's a lot of other religions too. The biggest religious wars in this country (and there were riots and people killed right here on our soil) were between Protestants and Catholics. Those religions couldn't even agree on WHICH bible would be used in school, which passages are most important or how to teach religion. Religion flourishes in this country unlike in most countries in the world exactly because it is not part of the government and the gov doesn't control it.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • YOUR Religion

      Hey Heaven Sent, is it OK if your children are taught to obey the Pope in Rome and follow every teaching of the Vatican? Cuz that's one thing that may happen if religion gets in charge of our schools.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  4. sharky

    Whatever guy, it was isolated.

    August 17, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  5. JP533

    I heard of a gay man that killed another man with a knife. My understanding is that he was soom kind of a leader in the gay community. By applying the logic that is used by many, I have concluded that leaders of the gay community must all be criminals.

    August 17, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  6. Michael

    It's not a War On Religion ... the issue is, as I see it, the Freedom to Choose. The whole Chick-Fil-A fiasco stems from closed minded people that want to shove their views and morals down everyone else's throats. And for a group to essentially "go to war" over the 1963 Supreme Court decision that reaffirmed MY RIGHT to not have ANY FORM of religion shoved at me whilst at Public School ... is clear Separation of Church & State. If the Religious Right wants any form of equality, start teachin Evolution in Sunday School ... level the playing field, Buckwheat. Oh yeah, take away their tax free status ... Chruches make more money than practically any other organization. As the late, great George Carlin once put it, "The Invisible Man in the sky wants your money." Get over it, people ... we're not in the Middle Ages anymore. I prefer Enlightenment over your dogma any day of the week. End Of Line ...

    August 17, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • whatabunchofnonesense

      And let us all say, "Amen!"

      August 17, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • sharky

      You went way overboard with that babbling diatribe.

      August 17, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • JLP

      Because Christians happen to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman is not "jamming" our values down anyone's throat. We have as much right to express and campaign for our views as you do yours .If you don`t agree; that`s OK.

      August 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • whatabunchofnonesense

      So JLP, let's see, if I disagree with you and want some friends who are gay or lesbian to be able to get married, you're going to go along with that?? If so, I would commend you as then you can have your beliefs and others can have theirs. But I seriously doubt that is your view. I believe you are like the other religious right people who want to "jam their views down our throats" by saying your view and only your view shall be the law of our land.

      August 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Antikoolaid

      The pilgrims fled Europe. Seperation was to keep state out of the church but the nation was civilized and started by christians so totally run by christians and designed by christians. They fled state religion in Europe. Just like they fled the middle east violence of muslims and went to Europe. Now in the country we started we are once again being persecuted by our own. For 50 years of bullying and cramming lGBT, evolution, anti prayer, soclialistic godless atheism on us we finally are trying to speak up but it is too late based on the hate against christians.

      August 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Snow

      @JLP.. believe whatever you want, no one has any problem with that.. But when you try to make what you believe into laws that everyone has to follow, it is without a question "jamming them down others throats".

      Besides campaigning for your values does not make a wrong thing correct.. there were many many people in 1860s who campaigned to keep slavery.. and many more who campaigned to keep segregation laws in 1960s.. doesn't make them right either.. EVEN if they were in the majority.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Because Christians happen to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman is not "jamming" our values down anyone's throat. We have as much right to express and campaign for our views as you do yours .If you don`t agree; that`s OK."

      Marriage was defined by the US Supreme Court as a civil right. Recognized federal civil rights law in the United States is grounded in the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court. By this standard, marriage has long been established as a civil right.

      The operative constitutional text is section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868. The relevant passages read as follows:

      No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws

      A federal appeals court on May 31st ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it denies equal rights for legally married same-sex couples, making it likely that the Supreme Court will consider the politically divisive issue for the first time in its next term. This most likely will be decided in the courts and since most courts keep ruling in gays favor they should be able to over turn all the unconstitutional laws prejudice bigots have been trying to pass.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Timmy

      JLP saying that no gay person should be allowed to get married because the bible is against it can't be considered anything but jamming your beliefs down someones throat.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Bock

      Last spring I got a heated conversation with a christian fundamentalist that was complaining about Darwinism, claiming that school should only state that "evolution is only one of the theories".
      He got very upset and stopped talking definitively when I said I agreed with him, but only if his church stated that "God existence is only one of the theories" and/or "Religion and theology are only one of the theories".
      Obviously reciprocity in arguments does not cover religion bullism covered by Freedom of Religion. Surely he thinks anyone is covered by Freedom of Religion, as long as it is HIS religion.
      p.s.: God is not own by Religions (there is no religious patent on God), even less by Churches, and not at all by all those preachers (especially when they consider churches to be businesses).

      August 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  7. Punctus

    As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap...

    August 17, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Al

      We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

      August 17, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  8. Pander Bear

    I in no way shape or form condone the actions of the shooter in the FRC incident. Similarly I in no way shape or form condone the hateful rhetoric that constantly emerges from Tony Perkins' mouth and brain.

    August 17, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  9. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Have you heard of the latest voter suppression campaign by the GOT in swing state of Ohio? Teapublican lawmakers (law-breakers) in Ohio have decided to shorten voting hours but only in predominantly Democratic districts. Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted (Busted) has implemented different voting rules for different areas of Ohio. In areas which favor Democrats, early voting will be limited to 8am to 5pm on weekdays only. But according to Tucson Citizen, "the rural and suburban areas rich in republican votes get extended evening early voting hours and weekends to boot. Can voter suppression get any more obvious? Republicans apparently think democracy works best when only their voters get to vote. Few may have thought it possible but it looks like voter suppression in America should be as important an issue in the 2012 election as the economy. If the voter suppression trend continues or worsens, representative democracy could be harder to find in America than a job." We often send election observers overseas to monitor elections in third world countries to ensure that elections are fair and that voter fraud is not committed but in the so-called greatest democracy in the world, it is simply outrageous that voter fraud is so pravelent and widespread in America. What a modern day travesty!

    August 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  10. nothing new here

    This is exactly why I stopped being a part of organized religion.
    Pots calling the kettles black.
    These religious leaders ought to go back to counting their $$$$, I am sure they have as much faith in the Almighty dollar as they have in the Almighty God.

    August 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  11. Matt

    How about some cheese to go with that whinnneee...boo hoo 🙁

    August 17, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • nothing new here

      These religious people are just as bad as the ones they point fingers at.
      So much for that faith in Jesus – more like faith in power and politics.

      August 17, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  12. Godoflunaticscreation

    Megachurch pastor and married man Jack Schaap has angered his congregation but good. They fired their long-time spiritual leader this week for having an affair. Infidelity is a sin after all.

    So what doesn't seem to bother the members of the First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana nearly as much? The fact that 54-year-old Schaap's alleged mistress was just 16 years old.

    August 17, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  13. kevin

    If it is a war, the Chrisyian Right has fired the first shots. How many clinics and healthcare providers have they blown up? It's about time someone fights back.

    August 17, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Antikoolaid

      Only a couple in 40 years of abortion. Don't buy the hate. Christians are non violent. After Rome was converted the whole middle east became Christian. Now it is muslim because christians pushed out. Christians only fight when pushed in the corner like in when Islam invaded Europe. But over the last 50 years the secular humanism have agressively pushed evolution theory, planned parenthood, LGBT, etc in our schools to our children. Attacked boy scout. Use tax dollars for ACLU lawsuit, planned parenthood, etc etc. Definitely they have declared war and pushed them into the corner. Plus they have brainwashed much of the public to hate jews and christians. Nothing new persecution of both is why christians fled to this country and made it great. Now athiestic humanistic socialist will ruin it with mankinds rebellion.

      August 17, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Snow

      "Christians only fight when pushed in the corner ".. LOLOLOL

      yep, the crusades and the spanish inquisition and the catholicization of south america and the sacking of aztecs/incas,.. all of these are the examples of christian spreading of love.. right??

      August 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  14. God

    I am angry. Y'all aren't burning enough animal sacrifices to please me. Do not anger me any further.

    August 17, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  15. Paul Falduto

    What a bunch of hooey.

    August 17, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  16. JP533

    In the US people speak out against elected officials, protest against wars, and express our exceptance of alternate lifestyles while marching in our streets. It seems we can clearly say that we agree or disagree with almost anyones actions, with the exception of the gay community. Why ?

    August 17, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Glorifundel

      You are confusing the freedom to speak with the ability to not be criticized. You can say any hateful, stupid, completely untrue thing you want in the public (outside of directly threatening harm to someone, as that is illegal). However when you say these stupid, hateful, and untrue things you are exposing yourself to criticism.

      No one is stopping you from saying something stupid, so don't pretend to say your being stifled. Just like now, you were allowed to say something stupid, and you are being called out on it. Most people will read what you wrote, see that it is wrong, and disagree with it. That is the beauty of free speech.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  17. KK Denver

    Is trying to stop the spanish inquisition a war on religion? No, it's a war on violent crazy people not their religion. That said This guy is a cracked as any right wing nut job.

    August 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  18. DAVE H

    Christian aggression has been going on for 2,000 years all in the name of a man myth called Jesus. Christians are the problem and have always been on the wrong side of history. Tony Perkins is a vile piece of garbage and so are all of his redneck followers. Remember, these are the people who are trying to limit and or take aways the rights of others based on their crazy beliefs. They are the ones who are trying to force their garbage down the rest of our throats. Thease people love guns and war,how do they like it when violence is in their own backyard?

    August 17, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  19. CRH

    OK. I think I understand this now. If a crazy person on the right goes and shoots people during a religious ceremony he's just crazy, but if a crazy person on the left goes and shoots people with different views then he's a product of the left machine? So, wait, what? if our guy does it he's just nuts, if your guys does it you're responible. WT??? Seriously?

    August 17, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      George Carlin had a great quote about the hypocrisy of the religious. " ...their always talking about what would Jesus do. They don't want to know so they could do it, just so they could tell other people to do it."

      August 17, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  20. jonp

    so what do they call a white supremacist gunning down a bunch of people in a sikh temple?

    August 17, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Hill Billy Olympics?

      August 17, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Jesus freaker


      August 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Rimshot


      August 17, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Timmy

      A good time.

      August 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      – target practice
      – small arms training
      – live ammunition drill
      – cleaning up the neighborhood (like ethnic cleansing without the moral overtones)

      Their pious sanctimonious hypocrisy makes me ill.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:00 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.