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Killing the killers

2 June 2009

Two recent news items, both from the USA, about people who are perceived as killers being killed by others.

Tiller is fourth doctor killed in abortion-related violence – Kansas City Star:

With his death Sunday, George Tiller became the eighth person and the fourth doctor killed in abortion-related attacks.

It was the first killing of an abortion provider in more than a decade. Before Sunday, the most recent killing of an abortion provider was on Oct. 23, 1998, when a sniper shot Barnett Slepian in his New York home.

Soon to be followed by this: Police: Recruiting center gunman targeted military – Yahoo! News:

A man with ‘political and religious motives’ killed a soldier just out of basic training and wounded another Monday in a targeted attack on a military recruiting center, police said. The shootings were not believed to be part of a broader scheme.

The soldiers completed basic training within the past two weeks and were not regular recruiters, said Lt. Col. Thomas F. Artis of the Oklahoma City Recruiting Battalion, which oversees the Little Rock office.

And perhaps the best comment on it comes from Frank Schaeffer, who writes on How I and Other “Pro-Life” Leaders Contributed to Dr. Tiller s Murder:

My late father and I share the blame (with many others) for the murder of Dr. George Tiller the abortion doctor gunned down on Sunday. Until I got out of the religious right (in the mid-1980s) and repented of my former hate-filled rhetoric I was both a leader of the so-called pro-life movement and a part of a Republican Party hate machine masquerading as the moral conscience of America.

That’s the problem with violence — it always begets more violence.

Another good comment on it comes from Reggie Nel, who refers to G.K. Chesterton’s story The hammer of God where the priest/detective Father Brown investigates the death of a man killed by a blacksmith’s hammer, so the prime suspect was the local blacksmith. Father Brown, however, works out that it was thrown by the local vicar from the church tower. The victim was the vicar’s own brother, and the vicar killed him because of his sinful life. Father Brown observes that the vicar was in the habit of climbing the church tower to look down on the people of the town and judge them, and remarks that high places, like mountains and church towers, are places we should look up to, not vantage points from which we should look down on other people. Church towers are built to point to God above, but we can only see God if we are down below. We are not to climb up and usurp God’s place by looking down on others and sitting in judgement on them.

Reggie concludes by linking this with the Ascension: AlphaXc: Ascending…:

God’s reign in Jesus Christ is different. He reigns in love, in meekness, in forgiveness and patience. In His reflections Jungel ( as quoted by Smit), reminds us that we all want to sit on the thones, we all want the higher positions and we love to sit in the heavens from where we can affirm ourselves, our achievements. The danger, he states, as illusions of might (grandeur), illusions of becoming God, of belittling people and ruling over them.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Daniel Clark permalink
    2 June 2009 3:21 pm

    Might there also not be a relationship with the fact that in America there is a widespread state-sponsored killing of those perceived to be killers (e.g. capital punishment and pre-emptive wars)?

  2. 2 June 2009 3:45 pm

    Sadly, this is the first time I’ve heard about the second story. How tragic!

    The comments you quoted are thought-provoking.

  3. 2 June 2009 8:35 pm

    And there is no hatred to be found in the murder of the US soldier? His killer was a Muslim convert, and doesn’t Radical Islam preach hate (Jews and Christians are sons of monkeys and pigs, for starters). The beheading of Daniel Pearl by Muslims wasn’t motivated by “hate”? Leon Klinghoffer was thrown from the Achille Lauro in his wheelchair by nothing more than a bunch of misunderstood “activists”?

    Spare me your sanctimony.

    • 2 June 2009 8:42 pm

      And your point is?

      • 3 June 2009 2:43 am

        Nowhere in your post did you condemn the murderer of Pvt. William Long. Nowhere do you equate adherence to Islam with a propensity for violence, yet you tar and feather all Christians with the actions of one lunatic.


        • Daniel Clark permalink
          3 June 2009 3:02 am

          I assume that this comment was posted to the wrong blog by mistake…it seems to have little to do with the post that I read!

        • 3 June 2009 5:57 am


          Because doing that would be engaging in precisely the kind of behaviour that I said was wrong in my post. It would be climbing to the top of the church tower and throwing a hammer at someone.

        • 3 June 2009 3:09 pm

          He tarred and feathered all Christians with the actions of one lunatic? Really? Funny, when I search the page for this blog, I don’t even find the word “Christian” until I get down to your comments. Steve doesn’t say one word about Christians, let alone all Christians. He does offer a quote from Frank Schaeffer that is critical of the religio-political body commonly known as the Religious Right here in the U.S.A., but the Religious Right is not representative of all Christians. Heck, the Religious Right is not representative of all Christians who share their conservative theological and moral views — as evidenced by people like Frank Shaeffer, Cal Thomas, and (at least to some degree) Steve Hayes.

          I’m inclined to wonder along with Daniel as to whether you read the same post I did.

  4. sol permalink
    3 June 2009 12:38 am

    Frank Schaeffer (big yawn) with a new excuse to go on again about how he is no longer part of the religious right. Why doesn’t he go on about how his views on abortion are not a part of the Orthodox Church?

    The same hate machine I was part of is still attacking all abortionists as “murderers.”

    Let’s see… Life begins at conception. That life has not been forfeited due to any so of wrong doing. That life is not a soldier in an armed struggle. (There is biblical evidence that the taking of such lives may be acceptable.) Someone intentionally takes that life. I think that is the definition of murder. I’m only a lawyer with a theology degree, so I may be completely wrong about this, but I don’t have to be filled with hate to reason that this is murder. I would be in agreement with the Roman Church, every Orthodox hierarch and priest I know or whose view I have read or heard, and virtually every Protestant Church, except for those who revised their views in the last 50 years.

    As I blogged about at some length, Tiller was what Tiller was. Like every person who intentionally takes an innocent human life, he was a murderer. I don’t hate him. I don’t rejoice in his death. But I don’t have to reject the teaching of the Church to avoid sharing the blame for his death.

    • 3 June 2009 6:08 am


      As I remarked in a comment on another blog, Frank Schaeffer has always been a bit of a loose shotgun (nothing like so targeted and precise as a cannon). His argument for early abortion is unsupported by any theological reasoning, but his observation that violent rhetoric begets more violence is spot-on.

      And that attitude seems to be exemplified by another comment on this post, where the commenter seems to be complaining that I didn’t go up the church tower and throw a hammer at the ants down below.

      • sol permalink
        4 June 2009 12:59 am

        I think his observation would be more credible if there were more abortion doctors being killed. Given the volume of the rhetoric (in either sense of “volume”), why has there not be a murder of an abortionist in over 10 years? Why have there only been 9 deaths over all, only 5 of them doctors? It was not the volume of the rhetoric that drove a prevously diagnosed schizophrenic to do this.

        That’s why I would disagree with your view that violence begets violence. It may in some cases, but again the very spotty record of violence against abortion providers does not seem to support it.

      • Kyralessa permalink
        8 June 2009 6:19 am

        “His argument for early abortion is unsupported by any theological reasoning, but his observation that violent rhetoric begets more violence is spot-on.”

        Well, even a stopped clock, and all that. Mr. Schaeffer and his voluminous mouth make an excellent case for why it’s good to make someone wait a while before converting to Orthodoxy.


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