I want to start by saying that, previously, I had only used the words “Christian terrorist,” in academic settings. I had naively hoped that I would never have to use those words for real.
But Dr. George Tiller as shot dead in church on Sunday, and everything is different now. We must accept that Dr. Tiller was shot by a Christian extremist. The suspect, Scott Roeder, was an anti-abortion activist who claimed to be a Christian.
But he was no Christian. This was not the act of a Christian. This was an act of terrorism, pure and simple.
Reporting from Wichita, Kan. – The 51-year-old man held on suspicion of killing prominent abortion provider Dr. George Tiller had attended the physician’s trial earlier this year and was outraged at his speedy acquittal, an anti-abortion activist said Monday.
Scott Roeder attended a demonstration outside a Kansas City clinic two weeks ago and spoke of traveling to Wichita for the trial of Tiller, who was charged with 19 misdemeanors for allegedly failing to comply with Kansas abortion laws, said Eugene Frye, who has helped organize vigils in the area for 25 years. A jury found Tiller not guilty in 45 minutes.
Authorities say Roeder was a member of anti-government militia groups and was a regular at pickets outside clinics. Frye said Roeder was a soft-spoken man who normally spent his time chatting about the federal income tax, which he called illegal, or esoteric interpretations of the Old Testament. But, Frye said, he had noticed a difference this time.
“He said he’d been down to Wichita for George Tiller’s trial and he said it was an absolute sham,” Frye said. “He seemed agitated — but agitation for Scott, for a lot of people would be normal.”
Roeder’s ex-wife described her husband:
Roeder’s ex-wife, Lindsey Roeder, said her husband became obsessed with anti-government theories and abortion in the early 1990s and that it poisoned their marriage.
“The anti-tax stuff came first, and then it grew and grew. He became very anti-abortion,” she told the Associated Press. “That’s all he cared about is anti-abortion. ‘The church is this. God is this. Yada, yada.’ “
Violent words are the seed of violence. They pave the path to hate. The overwhelming vast majority of Christians are horrified by this murder. As a Christian, I am horrified. And, yet, we must accept that there are those who are pleased.
Rachel Maddow ran a segment tonight called “Incitement to Terrorism.” She blasts Bill O’Reilly for praising the murder of Dr. Tiller. O’Reilly says Tiller is responsible for the destruction of “60,000 fetuses.” Interesting choice of words.
Maddow interviews Frank Schaeffer, who wrote Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back. Schaeffer apologizes for the death of Dr. Tiller, claiming some responsibility for this act of violence because of his anti-abortion efforts in the past.
The interview is very much worth watching. I leave you with this segment from the Rachel Maddow show for your reflection: