Shortly after news spread about the Wednesday morning shooting of a security guard at the Family Research Council’s (FRC) headquarters by a gunman , Truth Wins Out, a non-profit organization that fights anti-gay religious extremism, posted the following press release:
This is an awful tragedy and our thoughts and hearts go out to the victim, his family, and his colleagues at the Family Research Council,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “In America we settle political differences through robust debate in the public square, not with violence. If the shooting is found to be politically motivated, it is a detestable act of cruelty and cowardice and the perpetrator should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. We stand squarely with the Family Research Council today and offer them our full support and prayers.
Authorities identified the shooter as Floyd Lee Corkins II, of Herndon. The security guard, Leonardo R. Johnson, was called a hero by D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier for his role in helping to prevent further injury at the conservative group’s D.C. office Wednesday..
We were saddened to hear news of the shooting this morning at the offices of the Family Research Council. Our hearts go out to the shooting victim, his family, and his co-workers.
The motivation and circumstances behind today’s tragedy are still unknown, but regardless of what emerges as the reason for this shooting, we utterly reject and condemn such violence. We wish for a swift and complete recovery for the victim of this terrible incident.
There are unconfirmed reports that the shooting was ideologically motivated. We condemn all acts of violence and are following the story closely.
Some attempted to connect the shooter to the Chick-Fil-A boycotts based on material found in his backpack, as well as link him to LGBT organizations. At this time, no major LGBT groups claim to have a direct connection to him.
Despite Truth Wins Out’s long history of debating with pro-family “Christian” groups, Besen posted online a response from Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, adding that he totally agrees with Daly.
Early indications are that FRC may have been targeted for its biblical views on social-policy issues. That is a chilling thought. No person or group of any ideological stripe – left, right or center — should have to fear physical violence for passionately articulating and acting on their deeply help convictions in the realm of public policy. That is the very definition of terrorism.
As Besen stated, Daly issued a truly Christian response.
Moving forward, will this sentiment continue? What prevents those who proclaim to be Christians in the public square from putting forth the principle of liberty of conscience articulated by Roger Williams, the founder of the state of Rhode Island? After all, this pioneer of religious freedom also founded the first Baptist church in America, a denomination frequented by many who self-identify with the religious right. To quote Williams, “Men’s consciences ought in no sort to be violated, urged, or constrained.” Rather than create Puritan enclaves designed to separate the saved from the damned, Williams chose to embrace all, knowing we are not isolated individuals but part of a shared global humanity.