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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. pkfops

    This whole thing was staged by the FRC.

    Duh!

    August 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • HIndu

      and you are staged by SPLC?

      August 17, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  2. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    When Sarah Palin painted crosshairs on a map of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords district and inspired Jared Loughner to gun her and six others down, including 10 year old Christina Green while she waved the American flag, I didn't hear any conservatives complaining that that was a revolt against our freedom. And I didn't hear any conservatives complaining when Ted Nugent threatened to revolt against our democracy if our President is re-elected. And I sure didn't hear any complaints from conservatives when the tried to manipulate the Hispanic vote by hiring gunman Ortega Hernandez who pointed his rifle at the White House and took shots at the President and his family. Neither were there complaints by conservatives when they tried to manipulate the Jewish vote by hiring a Jewish newspaper publisher in Atlanta to call for the assassination of our President. And I sure don't hear conservatives complaining against their own who are driving around the American south with bumper stickers calling for the asassination of our President. What you conservatives need to do is go drink some Kool-Aid and do America a well deserved favor.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • HIndu

      are you suggesting two wrongs make a right? how do you plan to differentiate your platform if all you do is justify copying others ....

      August 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Gloria

      Are you seriously still going to blame Palin for the Loughner attacks after it was proven that he was a liberal democrat? Talk about blinders, you see only what you want to see. It is laughable that you spout that and then talk about drinking the Koolaid. It is you who is dangerous.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  3. Inside job?

    Last meeting at the FRC. "How do we sell our 'war on Christianity' agenda?" A hand goes up...

    August 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • HIndu

      ... and that was you spying on FRC meetings on behalf of SPLC ...

      August 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      *** Inside job?

      Last meeting at the FRC. "How do we sell our 'war on Christianity' agenda?" A hand goes up

      That was great.
      Probably more true than you realise.
      Got to inspire the base,
      after all they have to get the Black liberal out of the white house.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  4. str8vision

    Sorry Mr. Perkins but when you spew hate, judgmental intolerance and calls for action against people who do not share your beliefs, what do you think is going to come of it? You reap what you sew and you and those like you have been very very busy sewing the seeds of hate, violence, intimidation and intolerance. Any "war" that is forthcoming isn't against religion, it's against political conservative hate groups hiding behind the facade of religion, and in doing so slandering "true" Christians and fiscal conservatives as well. Think liberals are your only adversaries? You are naive and near sighted as many moderates and old school fiscal conservatives are fed up with your brand of malicious "hate" politics.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • blackhawkmom

      EXACTLY.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Spike

      Bingo!

      August 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well said.
      These religious conservatives are like abusive husbands. They beat and abuse those around them and tell them it’s their fault. Then when they are confronted they play the victim.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • HIndu

      you are not only condoning shooting but justifying it. FBI should be monitoring you for inciting hatred and violence. FIght policy with policy. Try to find solutions ....

      August 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  5. government cheese

    Liberals are murdering Christians for their beliefs.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Dan

      What a false and delusional comment

      August 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • jimmer

      It's about time.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  6. toobad

    It is a shame what we see on these posts. The anger is not normal. The hatred from the anti christian posts is similar to what we see from islamic fanactics around the world. The secular humanists atheistic elitist academics are really just as hateful as the ancient islamic hordes that took over the middle east and tried to take over Europe. Only Charlegmane was able to finally stop them Otherwise there would be no free west that all the godless secular atheist posting here live in. They woud all be bowing to Mohammed. You may still get your chance if you get rid of christians cuz the Islam is taking over Europe gradually.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      as an answer to why athiests and agnostics comment as vitriolically as they do on this site, check out au . org which is a site devoted to the first amendment and the separation of church and state.

      many christians (but by no means all) in this country are behaving like the taliban and trying to change the laws and education to force the christian religion down everyone's throats. this has got to stop.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Wayne

      "The anger is not normal. The hatred from the anti christian posts is similar to what we see from islamic fanactics around the world."

      The hate and propaganda from the Christians are far worse, especially when what they are promoting is lies.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  7. Dyslexic doG

    The bible is just a "Nigerian Email" from the bronze-age.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • sam

      No Dyslexic doG, the writing in the Bible is much better.

      August 17, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  8. Naomi C

    Have any of these politicians ever heard of keeping church and state separate? I'm aware of the fact that that statement usually entails no standardized religion will be set by the government, but I feel as if religion is having a much bigger impact on political ideologies and values that should be absent. Politics and religion shouldn't intertwine to become this sort of "right vs. left" mudslinging monster.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • toobad

      Just the opposite. In the mid 19th century the bible was taught in school. Harvard founded for the purpose of studying the Bible. Christians started the country and designed the laws. They purposely made the laws according to "natural law" with self evident God given rights of speech, work, etc. They did not make christianity the law as it is a choice and they protected that. Now secular humanist and academics have rewritten history and forgotten this. and assume like you that it was never an influence or it is growing when in fact it was the founder and designer of our laws. We are ignorant of our history and facts. See wallbuilders.com

      August 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  9. Wayne

    Here is what SPLC said about FRC at the time they were designated a hate group:
    Headed today by former Louisiana State Rep. Tony Perkins, the FRC has been a front of anti-gay propaganda throughout its history. It relies on the work of Robert Knight, who also worked at Concerned Women for America but now is at Coral Ridge Ministries, along with that of FRC senior research fellows Tim Dailey (hired in 1999) and Peter Sprigg (2001). Both Dailey and Sprigg have pushed false accusations linking gay men to pedophilia: Sprigg has written that most men who engage in same-sex child molestation “identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual,” and Dailey and Sprigg devoted an entire chapter of their 2004 book Getting It Straight to similar material. The men claimed that “homosexuals are overrepresented in child sex offenses” and similarly asserted that “homosexuals are attracted in inordinate numbers to boys.”

    The FRC is actually promoting lying while trying to promote Christianity, talk about hypocrisy at it's finest.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  10. Dyslexic doG

    if you are wondering why athiests and agnostics comment as vitriolically as they do on this site, check out au . org which is a site devoted to the first amendment and the separation of church and state.

    many christians (but by no means all) in this country are behaving like the taliban and trying to change the laws to force the christian religion down everyone's throats. this has got to stop.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  11. Dan

    These hate groups like FRC masquerading as family values organizations are not only un-Christian they are also un-American.They,lie,they hate ,they discriminate all in the name of God.This is entirely unacceptable and insults the beliefs of all true Christians.Members and followers of these hate groups are false Christians.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  12. Quit The Hate

    Why is it that if your NOT part of this "Christian" Conservative group that anything you say or do you are declaring war on this, declaring war on that. But if you ARE part of this group you can say any demeaning, derogatory, mean spirited thing that you want and it's called freedom of speech or defending religious rights? No one should be shot at for having their own opinion, but haven't these people noticed how their hate filled declarations against anyone who is not exactly like they are and blatant ostracism of all other groups leads to this kind of aggressive behavior? Have your opinions, but must we call names like children and liken others to the Devil reincarnated if they disagree? Tone down the hate-filled, mouth frothing, vein popping rhetoric right wingers and maybe normal people won't react so badly.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  13. sam

    First off, everyone on the Left should condemn this attack, even though we all can't stand Perkins and his group.

    II think that rejection and mistrust of religion is indeed on the rise, and public displays of anti-religious sentiment are certainly not isolated.

    And if conservatives are including the burning of mosques and the shooting at the Sikh temple in their list of anti-religious incidents, I would have to agree with them.

    What seems to be rare in this country is violence committed by athiests or non-Christians against Christians. I don't think Christians have to fear shootings and bombings the way Muslims, Jews, Sikhs and others do – unless they belong to a racial or ethnic group the attacker doesn't like.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  14. Dyslexic doG

    Another 10 or 20 generations and the human race will look on the christian God and Jesus the same way as we look on Zeus and Thor and Ra (and santa claus and the tooth fairy) today. What a giggle!

    August 17, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  15. The Real Tom Paine

    It's amazing to see, once again, the narrative from the Right that they are the victims: from millioniares feeling oppressed over their taxes being raised, to Perkins and others claiming there is a war on religion, its apparently open season on conservatives. The problem is that they have been waging open warfare on liberals for decades, engaging in merciless persecution at the local, state, national and international level. The FRC is a hate group masquerading as a public-interest organization: there is nothing Christ-centered about what they do. The fact that one demented loon chose violence to display his frustration is alarming and sad, but, given the provocative language the FRC and other groups use, I'm surprised it took this long.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Let me take a wild guess here. The suspect is born after 1962. 1962, the year atheists insisted that Jesus' wisdom be pulled from the public schools.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Snow

      Ok HS.. would you also support the Hindu wisdom (faar older than jesus') to also be taught alongside jesus' in the public schools? or would you lobby against such a proposal? The answer to this question will say a lot about you..

      August 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      HeavenSent, there is no proof that Jesus ever actually existed, so you probably mean the "wisdom" of bronze age tribesmen and goat herders in the desert.

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

      I guess HS is unaware that early court cases against school prayer were brought by religious groups. Catholics didn't want their kids doing protestent prayer. Jews didn't want their kids doing Christian prayer. Mormons didn't want their kids doing Catholic prayer. Etc.

      HS is also sadly unaware of folly of not understanding cause and effect. I could just as easily claim that the schools started going to hell when they added "under god" to the Pledge.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  16. Grady

    people with common sense question religion because religion questions common sense...

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

      Common sense is Jesus' wisdom. Atheists just changed the wording, called it something different, and of course, claimed it as their own (LOL).

      August 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Dan

      Heaven Sent- God gave us brains that can critically think.Why don't you give it a try and learn something.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Athy

      This supposes that HS has a brain to begin with.

      August 17, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  17. N.Shapiro

    I never heard of"Chic-fi-A' before, and don't care what the owner beieves, but it would be nice if he and his friends stop insulting people.
    These right wing religious are hypocrites, right now they are associated with a big Las Vegas casino owner, opposing Obama.
    Where are their moraals? Gambling is OK ?
    These right wing religious define "religious freedom" as their ability to force other people to give up their own rights,
    Obama is not making anyone use birth control, he is just insuring people's rights to do it if they want.

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

      Come on now. Listen or watch any news medium, radio, TV, magazines and see how the opponents are pulling out all the stops to rehash old wounds to win votes.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  18. not a phony patriot

    I see them as an attack on freedom, common sense, knowledge, tolerance, and peaceful co-existence.

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

      Common sense is stolen from Jesus' wisdom. Again, atheists stealing Jesus' truth, changing the wording, claiming it as their own. LOL.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • OTOH

      Sorry, HeavenSent, nothing that Jesus allegedly said was new.

      Even if you attribute the OT to him (as "God"), variations of those concepts and philosophies can be found which predate those works.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  19. Donald in CA

    Tony perkins is a big joke. He has had nothing to say when obortions doctors are murdered, including Dr. Tiller who was shot to death while ushering in church. They have nothing to say when people are killed by automatic weapons because they dont want to upset the nra. I hope more people donate to the Southern Poverty Law Center who track the right wing crazies.

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

      Donald, haven't you learned anything in life? Guns don't kill people. People do. All because Jesus' wisdom is no longer taught in public schools.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Wayne

      "All because Jesus' wisdom is no longer taught in public schools."

      People were still killing each other even when the schools were using religion.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  20. Freedom FROM Religion

    Quite frankly, it's about time there is more open opposition to religion. We need more of it in fact. Lots lots lots more. Religion and Christianity particularly is an antiquated oppressive system which has done nothing to help further advance our species and has countless times through out history oppressed so many various groups of people it is any wonder why it is still here today. So I'm personally sick of hearing about this "attack on religion" when they (the religious) have been attacking everyone else for well over a millennium. Everyone get's there day, eventually, and it's high time we strike the death knell for the Catholic Church and all it's affiliates.

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

      Now we get the made up baloney that the mental health professionals spew as reasons not to incarcerate criminal personalities. Excuses, excuses, excuses ... all because they ensure Jesus' wisdom is knocked out of the way and man made lies prevail.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:06 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.