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. SCH

    Jesus weeps.... for all of you.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Samuel

      And we call it rain! And when he's angry, its thunder and earthquakes, we know...

      August 17, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Boing

      I was under the impression that there was no sorrow in heaven.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • chipndale

      Pass the Kool Aid

      August 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • chipndale

      A quote from Jim Jones.

      August 17, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • nofaith

      I wish the ol' boy would do some weeping now! Its hotter than blazes around here and a good soak would be "heaven sent!"

      August 17, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  2. Samuel

    Guns don't kill religious people... God just takes them home.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  3. wally

    Murdering doctors is an attack on what?

    August 17, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • HIndu

      ... is attack on murdering innocent lives that dont get a say in whether they should be allowed to live a full life

      August 17, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Boing

      Hindu... Kinda like cancer, or the draft.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Samuel

      Hey religious murder apologist: Don't forget to go after the police and firemen. That way there won't be anyone left but priests and lawyers! The lawyers get to defend the priests when it's judgement time. That's what I read on the internet at least. The pagans guide to the rapture? :p

      August 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • nofaith

      Hindu – please consider that in christian doctrine there are NO innocents! Remember Original Sin? According to christian belief all humans are born guilty of sins against god, and can olny be "saved" from "eternal damnation" by accepting Christ as their savior. Now, that means that christians opposing abortion either do not know the fundamental tenants of their own doctrine (dogma), or they want childern brought into the world only to brainwash them into believing what Aynb Rand, darling of the Tea Party, once labled a "monstrous absurdity." Either way, the "pro-life" movement has no legs to stand on.

      August 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  4. Phattee

    What's more likely: a massive global conspiracy, or one nut with a gun?

    August 17, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • nofaith

      oh...both! Depends on which global conspiracy you or I subscribe to. 🙂

      August 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  5. rational minnesota

    "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."

    How much you want to bet these are the same people who opposed the mosque in NYC near the former trade center? It's only a war on religion if someone opposes their beliefs.

    My personal opinion... ban them all. It's time for the human race to grow up and move beyond 2,000+ year old myths.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • RapierPoint

      Most people oppose the "ground zero" mosque on the grounds that putting it there is in extreme bad taste.

      August 17, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  6. citizenmn

    Let's all feel sorry for the poor religious conservatives....(right).

    August 17, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  7. BostonLegal02110

    Religion has always been the cause of so many problems for so many people!

    "Such evil deeds could religion prompt."
    Lucretius (96 BC – 55 BC)

    Just saying!

    August 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  8. Kurt

    The FRC is confused, it is the religions right that is waging war on the rest of America by trying to force their policies onto others.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  9. Jesus freaker

    You all know what this means don't you? The rapture is soon.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Samuel

      Woo hoo the rapture! Give away your stuff, it's here!

      August 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • chipndale

      Drink the Kool Aid.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Samuel

      Is there more Kool aid in heaven ,mommy?

      No son, Kool aid is bad for you.

      Oh... 🙁

      August 17, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • nofaith

      Oh no...Ebay is gonna get clobbered!

      August 17, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  10. HIndu

    How about this for a solution - Let the definition of marriage be a private business of private citizen and his family. No one group uses the government to impose their definition of marriage on the rest of us. This is a diverse country. It would be better that Govt stays out of business of defining marriage while giving equal rights and benefits to all couples. It would be possible simply by use of word "civil union" by govt for all couples and leaving marriage for private citizen and his family to define for themselves (including gay couples and families). This is a fair solution, that will get the gay couples equal rights and benefits from govt as well as the right to call their union marriage. Also, this will not infringe on beliefs of any group by avoiding a govt-mandated definition of marriage. Click 'Like' if you like this solution.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Wayne

      Marriage existed long before the bible and your religion, Christians don't have a monopoly on that word.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      Christians and other religiofreaks are the ones imposing. I don't see how one can see "imposing" freedom and options is a bad thing.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • HIndu

      @Wayne - my solution gives everyone freedom to use the word for their union. And no group gets to use government to impose their definition on the rest of us .... this is only fair solution in a diverse society. only militants on EITHER side will not agree to this solution ... only those who say, "my way or the highway" ... those who do not want a just solution but a civil war. this solution is as fair and square as it gets. it gets govt our of private citizen's private business. each individual, family and church can define what marriage is for them (including gay families and churches that support gay marriages).

      August 17, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "it gets govt our of private citizen's private business. each individual, family and church can define what marriage is for them (including gay families and churches that support gay marriages)."

      It might help if you understand what comes with marriage in terms of rights for everyone.
      Tax Benefits
      -–Filing joint income tax returns with the I R S and state taxing authorities.
      -–Creating a "family partnership" under federal tax laws, which allows you to divide business income among family members.
      Estate Planning Benefits
      -–Inheriting a share of your spouse's estate.
      -–Receiving an exemption from both estate taxes and gift taxes for all property you give or leave to your spouse.
      -–Creating life estate trusts that are restricted to married couples, including QTIP trusts, QDOT trusts, and marital deduction trusts.
      -–Obtaining priority if a conservator needs to be appointed for your spouse – that is, someone to make financial and/or medical decisions on your spouse's behalf.
      Government Benefits
      -–Receiving Social Security, Medicare, and disability benefits for spouses.
      -–Receiving veterans' and military benefits for spouses, such as those for education, medical care, or special loans.
      -–Receiving public assistance benefits.
      -–Employment Benefits
      -–Obtaining insurance benefits through a spouse's employer.
      -–Taking family leave to care for your spouse during an illness.
      -–Receiving wages, workers' compensation, and retirement plan benefits for a deceased spouse.
      -–Taking bereavement leave if your spouse or one of your spouse's close relatives dies.
      Medical Benefits
      -–Visiting your spouse in a hospital intensive care unit or during restricted visiting hours in other parts of a medical facility.
      -–Making medical decisions for your spouse if he or she becomes incapacitated and unable to express wishes for treatment.
      Death Benefits
      -–Consenting to after-death examinations and procedures.
      -–Making burial or other final arrangements.
      Family Benefits
      -–Filing for stepparent or joint adoption.
      -–Applying for joint foster care rights.
      -–Receiving equitable division of property if you divorce.
      -–Receiving spousal or child support, child custody, and visitation if you divorce.
      Housing Benefits
      -–Living in neighborhoods zoned for "families only."
      -–Automatically renewing leases signed by your spouse.
      Consumer Benefits
      -–Receiving family rates for health, homeowners', auto, and other types of insurance.
      -–Receiving tuition discounts and permission to use school facilities.
      -–Other consumer discounts and incentives offered only to married couples or families.
      -–Other Legal Benefits and Protections
      -–Suing a third person for wrongful death of your spouse and loss of consortium (loss of intimacy).
      -–Suing a third person for offenses that interfere with the success of your marriage, such as alienation of affection and criminal conversation (these laws are available in only a few states).
      -–Claiming the marital communications privilege, which means a court can't force you to disclose the contents of confidential communications between you and your spouse during your marriage.
      -–Receiving crime victims' recovery benefits if your spouse is the victim of a crime.
      -–Obtaining immigration and residency benefits for noncitizen spouse.
      -–Visiting rights in jails and other places where visitors are restricted to immediate family.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • HIndu

      @YeahRight - you obviously did not read my post fully before jumping to reply ... i said equal right and benefits to all couples ... equal treatment by govt ... in full sense of the word.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • sass2u

      I tend to agree with you. Perhaps you are far too reasonable for this polarizing era. I think that's where Obama was headed, but he has allowed himself to be swayed "by popular demand."

      August 17, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • nofaith

      Works for me. With the nation on the bring of who knows how many catastrophies why is the govt. even spending time on this? You'd think that our elected officials would be earning thier pay trying to find ways to solve problems, not creating them out of non-issues like who is sleeping with who.

      August 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  11. wade moran

    All you Sheeple for the Un-American way, racists at the SPLC, and Limp-Wristed Lap-Dog Liberal lemmings wanna go? Let's get this started. We're ready to take our gloves off!

    August 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • DohDoh

      Much of hate-monger, are you? I carry for protection against cons, not convicts but conservatives.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      I hear a lot of talk and no action. Maybe you need to stop playing so many video games, get out of your moms basement and finish writing that manifesto you've been working on.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Boing

      Go on outside and fall down a lot, you'll need the practice.

      August 17, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  12. Dan

    If we can't rid the lies of Christian fundamentalism in this country how can we expect moderate Muslims to rid Fundamentalist Islam.Islamic fundamentalists pervert the Koran the same way Christian fundamentalists pervert the Bible.( Tony Perkins-are you listening )?

    August 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • nofaith

      I'd suggest the bible is perverted to begin with. It'sn nothing more than a confusing mishmash of killing and blood sacrifice cobbled together by a committee using texts that were written decades, even centuries after the supposed life of Jesus. That said...I do like Psalms – some neat poetry in there 🙂

      August 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  13. HIndu

    This country was founded by the pilgrims who came here to escape religious persecution. Now Christians might have to become pilgrims again in the country they founded .... the LGBT agenda is to bully, intimidate, insult, label and if nothing else works ... KILL!!

    August 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      The religious persecution they fled was by another religious group backed by the government you dullard. That is why they were so adamant about the separation of church and state. If anything you should say that it is ironic how the ones who fled persecution have now become the persecutors.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • JT

      That is a completely false statement. But, of course, leave it to the fringe right, once they become the victim of the jihad violence they seem to espouse, to run around looking for someone to nail their free had to the cross.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • YeahRight

      ". the LGBT agenda is to bully, intimidate, insult, label and if nothing else "

      So would you have said that about African Americans and women when they were fighting for their civil rights. It's one of the reasons that the NAACP is now on the side of gay civil rights, because that is what this is about. 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.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Janice Greer

      this country already had legal people living here, their land was taken from them by those great christians who were looking for a way out of religous persecution, so they persecuted the people already here and many more who came for the same reasons. Seems to me like cram always runs downhill

      August 17, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • nofaith

      Historical accuracy check – the Pilgrims were English separatists who were expelled from Britian for essentially the exact same behavior displayed by the fundamentalist and evangellical christians today. They were forced to come to North America becasue no other European power would take them in. For a good read on this try "Mayflower" by Nathaniel Philbrick.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • sass2u

      Whoops! You just veered to the Right pole. Religious freedom means religious freedom, apart from any LGBT consideration. Perhaps someday there will be freedom for those with NO religion – and our government's ability to observe the separation of church and state – which is where I thought you were headed. However, the FRC is irresponsible in it's language, which causes the nut cases of one side to arouse the nut cases of the other. It is fundamentally a dangerous oversimplification for us to blame anyone (e.g., the SPLC) other than the person with the gun.

      August 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • J.W

      Nobody died in this shooting I dont think. It said the guard was just injured.

      August 17, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  14. jamest297

    I am still wondering if the Aurora, Colorado event event is taken by the conservatives on this forum as being a war on movies in general or just a war on Batman. Can anyone provide an official view on this –

    August 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  15. biologixco

    What about all those whacko Christians that kill people at abortion providers>?
    Bombings, killings. This article is a big smokescreen for the Christian war on women and gays.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  16. Dyslexic doG

    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.

    - Tom Tom the Piper's Son

    August 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • nofaith

      Good comparison!

      August 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • sass2u

      Very good analogy!

      August 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  17. biologixco

    Bet there's 10 right wing looneys for every 1 left wing looney.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  18. A Christian

    For many decades countless gay people have been murdered, victimized, harassed, etc. There are literally thousands of victims that were inspired by groups like this one. Now this conservative group is claiming this unfortunate incident is an attack on their religious freedom? I hope they succeed in making this a hate crime. It will automatically make them partially responsible for inspiring the countless gay victims that are harmed every year. Careful what you wish for.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  19. ptcorl34

    "In an interview with Fox News Channel, Perkins framed the incident as an attack on Christians everywhere."

    now that's funny! deplore the violence...also deplore the attempt to hijack christianity. about 2.2 billion christians in the world. Perkins does't speak for me

    August 17, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  20. Reality

    Moving out of the Dark Ages into the 21st century.

    o "Abrahamics" believe that their god created all of us and of course that includes the g-ay members of the human race. Also, those who have studied ho-mo-se-xuality have determined that there is no choice involved therefore ga-ys are ga-y because god made them that way.

    To wit:

    1. The Royal College of Psy-chiatrists stated in 2007:

    “ Despite almost a century of psy-choanalytic and psy-chological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person’s fundamental heteros-exual or hom-ose-xual orientation. It would appear that s-exual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of ge-netic factors and the early ut-erine environment. Se-xual orientation is therefore not a choice.[60] "

    2. "Garcia-Falgueras and Swaab state in the abstract of their 2010 study, "The fe-tal brain develops during the intraut-erine period in the male direction through a direct action of tes-tosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hor-mone surge. In this way, our gender identi-ty (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and s-exual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb. There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender ident–ity or s-exual orientation."[8

    3. See also the Philadelphia Inquirer review “Gay Gene, Deconstructed”, 12/12/2011. Said review addresses the following “How do genes associated with ho-mose-xuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?”

    Of course, those gays who belong to Abrahamic religions supposedly abide by the rules of no adu-ltery or for-nication allowed.

    And because of basic biology differences said monogamous ventures should always be called same-se-x unions not same-se-x marriages.
    To wit:

    From below, on top, backwards, forwards, from this side of the Moon and from the other side too, ga-y s-exual activity is still mutual mas-turbation caused by one or more complex s-exual differences. Some differences are visually obvious in for example the complex maleness of DeGeneres, Billy Jean King and Rosie O'Donnell.
    Yes, heteros-exuals practice many of the same "moves" but there is never a doubt who is the female and who is the male.

    As noted, there are basic biological differences in gay unions vs. heterose-xual marriage. Government benefits are the same in both but making the distinction is important for census data and for social responses with respect to potential issues with disease, divorce and family interactions.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • jamest297

      Is there anyone on this forum qualified to interpret gibberish? I am in desperate need of understanding!

      August 17, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.