Family Research Center Shooter Charged, Tony Perkins Blames FRC Critics

Entirely unsurprisingly, the shooting at the Family Research Center's office in Washington, D.C. is already being politicized.

The man who shot a guard at the Washington, D.C. offices of the Family Research Center yesterday appeared in Court today and was formally charged in the incident, while revelations about what may or may not have been his motives have sparked the inevitable political wars:

The man authorities say walked into the downtown D.C. offices of the Family Research Council and shot a security guard Wednesday morning was charged Thursday with assault with intent to kill while armed and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition, according to court filings and officials.

Floyd Lee Corkins II, 28, of Herndon, appeared in U.S. District Court in D.C. Thursday afternoon during a brief hearing before Magistrate Judge Alan Kay. During the proceeings, which lasted approximately 20 minutes, the judge ordered Corkins held without bond ahead of another hearing scheduled for August 24.

According to an FBI affidavit made public Thursday, Corkins walked into the lobby of the conservative group’s headqurters shortly before 11 a.m. and encountered the guard, Leonardo Reno Johnson.

A law enforcement official familiar with the incident but not authorized to talk about it, said Corkins asked to see someone Johnson didn’t know. Johnson has worked at the Council for 11 years and became suspicious. Corkins said he had the name in his bag, bent down and pulled out a 9mm handgun, the official said.

Corkins said “I don’t like your politics,” according to the FBI affifavit. He then shot at Johnson, the affidavit said, and hit him in the arm.

Johnson, wounded, wrestled the gun away and subdued Corkins, the affifavit said.

If convicted, Corkins could face prison sentences of up to 10 years on the federal firearms charge and up to 30 on the District of Columbia assault charge.

At Thursday’s hearing, Corkins appeared in white prison jumpsuit, walking into the courtroom quietly between two U.S. Marshals over which he towered. As Kay outlined the charges against him, he stood twirling his thumbs with his hands behind his back.

Kay asked Corkins whether he had enough money to pay for an attorney; he said he did not. “I have about $300,” Corkins said in a soft, clear voice.

In a Thursday morning interview, Leonardo Johnson’s mother said she was proud of her son for subduing the gunman and “so happy” to hear the District’s police chief call him a hero.

“I’m sorry for what happened, and the way he got hurt,” Virginia Johnson said by telephone from her Southeast home. She spoke with her son, when he called from a hospital moments after she saw news of the shooting on television newscasts.

“Yes, I’d say he was a hero,” said Virginia Johnson, 72.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier credited Johnson with preventing a tragedy by stopping Corkins from reaching the upstairs offices in the group’s six-story building at Eighth and G streets NW.

In the Thursday interview, Johnson’s mother said she thought her son was the one hurt even before his name emerged publicly because she knew where he worked.

By the time he called her from the hospital, she said, “I was crying. I was upset. He was trying to calm me down.”

Johnson said her son, who also lives in Southeast, didn’t provide many details of the incident.

“He just told me, ‘Ma, I got shot.’ I said ‘I figured it was you.’ I said, ‘Where did you get shot at?’ He said ‘In the arm.'”

She said she learned that her son had stopped the gunman from television reports. “I was so happy” after hearing Lanier’s remarks, Johnson said.

The FBI affifavit said authorities recovered the 9mm Sig Sauer handgun, plus two additional magazines of ammunition. When agents searched Corkins’s backback, they found another 50 rounds of ammunition, and 15 sandwiches from Chick-Fil-A.

The Atlanta-based fast-food chain has been embroiled in controversy in recent weeks after its president spoke out against same-sex marriage. The Family Research Council also opposes such unions.

Corkins has been held over for a mental evaluation, which is always advisable in these situation, and so far at least no bond has been set. So far at least, it’s unclear whether he’ll be tried in Federal Court or in D.C. Superior Court. The firearms charge is potentially a Federal charge, but the assault charge would not be unless the FBI was able to determine that this qualified as “domestic terrorism” because Corkins was intending to achieve some kind of political goal. So far, they have not done that, and the Federal authorities are explicitly avoiding the “domestic terrorism” label notwithstanding the “I don’t like your politics” comment that Corkins apparently made before shooting. Based on the available evidence, it strikes me as rather tenuous to describe this as “terrorism” notwithstanding the comment. More likely than not, we’re dealing with a slightly deranged man who took his political anger too far. That’s not terrorism, it’s assault, and it belongs in state, or in this case District of Columbia, court, not the Federal Courts.

Of course, as with everything else in the world today this matter took on a political tone almost as soon as it was reported. People jumped to conclusions about what the motivations of this man were before any evidence had even been released, and many on the right are echoing the comments of FRC President Tony Perkins, who is saying that critics of his organization bear some of the responsibility for what happened:

The head of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, today said the Southern Poverty Law Center and other groups gave “license” to a shooter who injured a security guard at the conservative religious policy and lobbying organization’s headquarters on Wednesday.

In a news conference outside the Family Research Council’s building addressing the incident and the arrest of the alleged shooter, Floyd Corkins II, Perkins said: “Let me be clear that Floyd Corkins was responsible for firing the shots yesterday that wounded one of our colleagues … but Corkins 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.”

This is quite simply absurd. It is the conservative version of the people who tried to argue that Sarah Palin’s PAC sending out a mailer with “targets” on it somehow contributed to the Gabby Giffords shooting. As I noted at the time, this was quite simply an absurd position:

There’s no evidence that Jared Lee Loughner was any kind of a Palin follower or fan; in fact, his politics over the past several years seem to have been a bizarre mixture of far left, far right, and conspiracy theories. There’s also anecdotal evidence that he is, at least in some sense, mentally disturbed.Finally, it’s becoming clear that this individual had some kind of obsession with Giffords long before anyone outside of Alaska ever heard the name Sarah Palin.  How, exactly, Sarah Palin is responsible for the actions of such a person is beyond me, and I’m a guy who has very low regard for Palin to begin with.

Steve Benen points to another example, the story of a Tennessee man who shot up a church in 2008 because he objected to the “liberal teachings” of that church. When police searched his home they found a host of books by such conservative authors as Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly. Benen asks:

Did Savage, Hannity, and O’Reilly give, to use Tony Perkins’ word, “license” to the madman to shoot nine unarmed, innocent people in a church? Of course not. Savage, Hannity, and O’Reilly are free to share their political opinions, and so long as they don’t incite acts of violence, it’s unfair to blame them for the actions of a madman.

Indeed, Perkins has been deeply critical of all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons. If some sick individual heard those criticisms and decided to commit and act of violence, Perkins wouldn’t be responsible, either.

I’m a little surprised Perkins pushed this argument today, and I have to wonder if, once people have a chance to catch their breath and reflect on yesterday’s violence, he might reconsider.

My guess is that he won’t, because this kind of argument is something the right just absolutely loves, and it gives a chance for the FRC to claim the status of the victim of some far flung conspiracy, which will no doubt be helpful in fundraising. What Corkins did in this case is horrible, and unjustified. He deserves to rot in jail for it, and I’m just glad that the security guard he shot was not more seriously injured and was able to react quickly enough to prevent him from causing further tragedy. At the same time, though, the manner in which Perkins and others are seeking to politicize just a little more than 24 hours it happened is really just quite disgusting.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Guns and Gun Control, Law and the Courts, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tom Hilton says:

    If Norman Bates Tony Perkins wants to take responsibility for violence against the people he vilifies, let him. Last I checked there was a whole lot more gay-bashing (up to and including murder) in this country than there was liberal-on-conservative violence.

  2. jed says:

    Yep. Crazy comes in all sorts of flavors. Little Caesar’s has even managed to drive bread insane, or so I’ve been told.

    Even so, the SPLC is absolutely ridiculous. A great shame considering their illustrious heritage. Remember when MADD (which began with a laudable goal) went all Carry Nation with her little hatchet? That’s where the SPLC has gone. For money and attention, they have become whores. Dreadful.

  3. John Cole says:

    Of course it is being politicized. A guy went into their offices, ranted about their political positions, and shot the guard. This is no more surprising than when an anti-abortion lunatic goes into a church, shoots Tiller in the head, and abortion rights supporters were mortified.

    These were political acts. Deranged and insane. But political acts, nonetheless, so being surprised they are being politicized is like being shocked that the media will hype this years Super Bowl.

  4. John Cole says:

    I should add the most salient thing about this is that Perkins is lying out his ass, not that this is being politicized.

  5. Gulliver says:

    Entirely unsurprisingly, the shooting at the Family Research Center’s office in Washington, D.C. is already being politicized.

    As has every act of violence against a “left” cause – including pre-empting the facts with allusions to “tea party” associations for the perpetrators. The double-standard continues – a completely assumed right wing affiliation (which, with the singular – and still debatable – exception of Timothy McVeigh has always turned out to be inaccurate) warrants the spotlight of the hyper-ventilating media who thinks they should protect us from “extremism”, while a completely obvious association with a left-wing cause is ignored when it is the motivation of an attack. Its only a problem when the right has a legitimate and obvious point about the political motivation behind the attack.

    The right wing (A.K.A. The Tea Party) has been falsely accused, without apology, for numerous acts of violence in this country. It is more than past time that the media is honest about the real purveyors of violence in politics today – the left. The eft, and the leftist ideology of the SPLC, was the root cause today of a person committing assault with a firearm on an organization that was guilty only of the sin of not agreeing with the views of the LGBT. This is intolerance at its extreme and it is time to label LGBT groups as “hate groups” since their position is leading to deadly assault on individuals who disagree with them.

    All of you who support the left’s agenda are not only sick, but are rapidly approaching a tine when we will simply have to come up with a solution for all of you that eliminates your twisted ideology .

  6. Rick Almeida says:

    @Gulliver:

    You’re not very good at the whole “democracy” or “freedom” things, are you?

  7. Nikki says:

    All of you who support the left’s agenda are not only sick, but are rapidly approaching a tine when we will simply have to come up with a solution for all of you that eliminates your twisted ideology .

    Hey, Doug, how many of your lefty commenters have posted final solution threats on your blog in the last year? How many during the Bush administration?

  8. Restless says:

    All of you who support the left’s agenda are not only sick, but are rapidly approaching a tine when we will simply have to come up with a solution for all of you that eliminates your twisted ideology .

    Hahahahahahaha

  9. James Joyner says:

    @John Cole: We’re in agreement here. This is being politicized because it was, well, political. That the man had a political beef with a political organization doesn’t justify his act or make it any worse; but it’s certainly political.

  10. @James Joyner: @John Cole:

    Or, perhaps, it’s a slightly, or not so slightly deranged guy marginally influenced by politics.

    My disagreement isn’t so much with the assessment of the suspect’s motives as it is with the assertion by Perkins that critics of his organization are somehow culpable for this.

  11. rudderpedals says:

    Some people still blame the SPLC for using good old American law to force groups like Metzger’s White Aryan Resistance to compensate their victms. Perkins is repulsive, but consistent.

  12. Vast Variety says:

    So when the SPLC labels the FRC a hate group because they make false claims about gays then it’s inciting violence, but when the FRC labels gays as sinful and diseased, equating them with pedophiles it’s simply religious free speech.

    I’m glad Tony Perkins clarified that for me otherwise I would have been totally confused.

  13. al-Ameda says:

    Unhinged people + easy access to guns = this kind of thing.

  14. Repsac3 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Yeah, I’m with Doug on this… In the shooter’s mind, it likely was a political act.

    But that doesn’t make any political ideology, party, or organization responsible for it–not even a little, any more than dogs (talking or otherwise) were responsible for the Son-of-Sam murders.

    Shooters can claim any motive they like, from politics to the radio waves they hear in their fillings…but there has to be something wrong with anyone who takes out a gun and fires at a rightwing organization’s offices, or a church, or pretty much anywhere else, based on political or social views.

  15. James Joyner says:

    @Doug Mataconis: @Repsac3: Oh, I agree entirely that, just because the guy was politically motivated doesn’t make those he was motivated against culpable. It’s like the silly post-9/11 argument about al Qaeda. Of course it was US foreign policy, not “our freedom,” that motivated al Qaeda’s animus against the US. That doesn’t in any way legitimate al Qaeda’s criminal acts nor make us responsible for their actions.

  16. Just nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Vast Variety: The problem is that Perkins really doesn’t consider what he says as hate speech. He’s wrong about this, but he considers what he says as “speaking Biblical truth” and doesn’t even consider the possibility of his words being taken as hateful. (I’d rather offend someone into heaven than comfort them into hell, and all that.)

    Since no one has said it, good job on calling Perkin’s aspersions what they are, Doug.

  17. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Vast Variety: Well, if you actually read the Bible, you’d see that it isn’t the FRC that’s declaring gays sinful, it’s the Bible. Perhaps you ought to consult with a few declared Christians like Obama, Biden, Pelosi, or Reid and educate yourself about what the Good Book has to say about homosexuality.

    And to sum up: a gay activist leaves his volunteer job at a gay activist group, “disguises” himself with Chick-Fil-A sandwiches, and goes to the headquarters a group that is probably most infamous for its opposition to the push for gay rights. There he loudly declares his opposition to their views and starts shooting.

    Note that both the FRC and Chick-Fil-A have been labeled as “hate groups” over their choosing to exercise their legal rights to speak out against gay marriage.

    If you’re playing Connect The Dots on this one, it starts at “1” and ends at “2.”

  18. Doubter4444 says:

    @Gulliver:
    You are crazy.

  19. Ernieyeball says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Well, if you actually read the Bible, you’d see that it isn’t the FRC that’s declaring gays sinful, it’s the Bible.

    The Bible was written by human beings. Human beings make mistakes.

  20. Gulliver says:

    @ Vast Variety

    So when the SPLC labels the FRC a hate group because they make false claims about gays then it’s inciting violence, but when the FRC labels gays as sinful and diseased, equating them with pedophiles it’s simply religious free speech.

    Yeah, moron. See, we on the right think its all free speech. You neanderthals on the left invented the idea of “hate speech” with the idea that the actions of a person reflect their inner thoughts in a way that is patently obvious based upon their political affiliations . This person attacked someone with deadly force because the FRC didn’t agree with his world view. This is a perfect example of a liberal interpretation of a hate crime, which the left – inaccurately – accuse the right of committing on a regular basis. You know, the notion that you just know the underlying thought processes behind a statement or action because of their political orientation?

    In the case of a violent attack against anything that has a high profile ,politically , it is now almost always assumed by the “popular” media that 1) someone from the political right was responsible ( which has been almost universally incorrect) and 2) that it is axiomatic that the attack is a result of “right” oriented philosophy – and so it should be, and universally is, therefore condemned. This is self-evident by examples that are readily available for review such as video, transcripts, and third party reports.

    You liberals created this monster notion of associating the political views with the motives for the attack. Admit it, and deal with it in something that remotely resembles equality. Its your double standard (i,e brushing off anything that originates from the left side of the political spectrum as a “mis-understanding” no matter how offensive, aggresive, or violent it may be) that makes you raving hypocrites.

  21. mattb says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Well, if you actually read the Bible, you’d see that it isn’t the FRC that’s declaring gays sinful, it’s the Bible. Perhaps you ought to consult with a few declared Christians like Obama, Biden, Pelosi, or Reid and educate yourself about what the Good Book has to say about homosexuality.

    You probably missed the very thoughtful debate that Boyd I and others had earlier this year on the subject. I don’t have access to the link right now. What I can say is that the Old Testament does indeed condemned homosexuality, however it happens in a section that is entirely superceded by the New Testament. The New Testament is far less decisive on the issuee (only mentioning it once and never in the Words of Christ) . Where it is mention is far more open to alternative readings.

  22. Robert in SF says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Jenos, the Bible has been used as a source for a variety of claims that God’s will, which just happens to coincide with someone’s particular beliefs…and when FRC starts going after shellfish, shaving, or polyester clothes, you can start to use that as the cover for the justification. Until then…well, that just doesn’t fly.

    Whatever their personal, religious beliefs, we don’t set laws or policy based solely on the Bible, or however it’s being interpreted that week….we base it on political and legal theory and jurisprudence…so no, again the Bible is not the source of the laws of the land…some of them coincide with the laws, but that’s because they make sense even if there were no Bible to tell us what God wants or commands.

    As for being labeled a hate group….I don’t know any recognized authortity (mainstream, respected, well represented and supported…not legal authority but credible authority) who has said anything about that….so please cite a reference or 2 to support that, if that is what you meant. If you meant that some people say (copyright, Fox “News”) that Chick-Fil-A is a hate group….well, that’s what some people say, I guess….but that’s not worth anything to claim that there is any there there.

    As for FRC being identified as a hate group, there is some teeth to that charge, fully explained here: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/groups/family-research-council.

    It’s not based at all on your claim of supposed religious expression, but on a constant, antagonistic, vilifying, misleading (read that as “false witness) series of actions and statements that somehow use religion as their foundation, but then seriously move from religious expression to villainizing an entire population. Motivated clearly and majorly by animus…. They are not just “declaring gays sinful” as you summarize…they are making bold, casually vicious charges of supposed fact against gay people:

    “Gaining access to children has been a long-term goal of the homosexual movement.”
    — Robert Knight, FRC director of cultural studies, and Frank York, 1999

    “[Homosexuality] … embodies a deep-seated hatred against true religion.”
    — Steven Schwalm, FRC senior writer and analyst, in “Desecrating Corpus Christi,” 1999

    “One of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of a new sexual order.”
    -1999 FRC pamphlet, Homosexual Activists Work to Normalize Sex with Boys.

    “[T]he evidence indicates that disproportionate numbers of gay men seek adolescent males or boys as sexual partners.”
    — Timothy Dailey, senior research fellow, “Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse,” 2002

    “While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. … It is a homosexual problem.”
    — FRC President Tony Perkins, FRC website, 2010

    So, no…. they and those who support them don’t get to claim to be religious martyrs…not at all.

  23. Uma Spankhurst says:

    Oh please. Just because YOU didn’t buy the Palin BS during the Giffords tragedy doesn’t mean hundreds of progressive-oriented journalists didn’t promote it and millions of progressive voters didn’t run with it. Progressives reap what they sow. They have been jack@**es of the worst kind for at least four solid years. I left the movement over their stupid and stultifying rhetoric, which I could clearly see threatened to disempower some pretty good policy ideas. And we’ll see exactly how disempowered they’ll become in November when they lose the presidency and the Senate over their ignorance-based arguments. Mark my words. It’s coming. I’ve seen this show before, and there is no way out now. It’s simply too late.

  24. bk says:

    @Gulliver:

    You liberals created this monster notion of associating the political views with the motives for the attack. Admit it, and deal with it in something that remotely resembles equality. Its your double standard (i,e brushing off anything that originates from the left side of the political spectrum as a “mis-understanding” no matter how offensive, aggresive, or violent it may be) that makes you raving hypocrites.

    WTF??? Did you somehow get lost on the way to Twitchy? Why is it that blogs run by (or associated with) lawyers bring out the most brain-dead comments? I mean, that guy from Cornell who can’t spell. Althouse, who is often drunk. Glenn Reynolds. Who have I missed?

  25. Gulliver says:

    @Rick Almeida

    @Gulliver:

    You’re not very good at the whole “democracy” or “freedom” things, are you?

    I’m great at it .. its those who wish to act like they can dispense indulgences regarding who should have freedom, and who should not, that I will not tolerate. As in “Freedom of Speech ” , without the liberal left trying to take what someone says as an excuse for why violence against them shouldn’t be immediately condemned.

    Freedom is our birthright. The left doesn’t get to decide who deserves to say what they want without reprisal and who doesn’t . We’re not going to allow them to do that, and it may well reach a point where we will feel the need to defend that right with a response that settles the issue. Whether this takes place over a single election cycle, a decade, or a week…. it will happen.

  26. An Interested Party says:

    Well, if you actually read the Bible, you’d see that it isn’t the FRC that’s declaring gays sinful, it’s the Bible.

    Hmm, if such is really the case, there are a hell of a lot of people out there eating pork and shellfish, sporting tattoos, wearing clothes of mixed materials, shaving, and wearing gold jewelry, among many other things, that need to be informed that they are all in violation of Scripture…

    And we’ll see exactly how disempowered they’ll become in November when they lose the presidency and the Senate over their ignorance-based arguments. Mark my words. It’s coming. I’ve seen this show before, and there is no way out now. It’s simply too late.

    Oh my, such a bold prediction…so what happens if you are wrong? Perhaps you could start a revolution…

  27. An Interested Party says:

    We’re not going to allow them to do that, and it may well reach a point where we will feel the need to defend that right with a response that settles the issue.

    Talk about a revolution…watch out all you evil lefties! You’re day of reckoning will soon be at hand…

  28. jan says:

    In a related topic. The shooter brought in a bag of chick fil a sandwiches, obviously as some kind of symbolic gesture relating to the recent controversy where the owner of this franchise donated to FRC. Tony Perkins, head of FRC, made a side comment that such a donation was in the amount of $1000. He went on to say that he wished it was more, but that’s all they wanted to contribute.

    I remember all the static given to this owner for his support of FRC — $1000, though, is hardly a hefty show of support, is it? Didn’t Bill Marr give Obama a cool million? But, that is how conservatives are so easily mired down in so many social or gun controversies by the dems and the dem-leaning media. However, I noticed that this particular FRC shooting had a play on the internet, but very little in the MSM.

  29. David M says:

    @jan:

    The shooter was obviously deranged, but it’s still worthwhile to set the fact straight. The controversy was not over a single $1000 donation that no one cared about, it was the fact that Chick-Fil-A donated $1.9 million to similar causes in 2010.

  30. David M says:

    The spam filter caught my last comment, not sure why.

  31. grumpy realist says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: You might want to study some history. This was the exact same justification (“It’s in the Bible!”) used by the South to justify slavery of dark-skinned people.

    Me, I look upon organized religion as being a mechanism by which people find justification to do evil things.

  32. OzarkHullbilly says:

    Let me see: The guy has a bag full of Chick-fil-a sandwiches, a business that is well known for it’s anti-gay activities, when he walks into the Family Research Council, an organization that is well known for it’s anti-gay activities, and tries to shoot up their offices.

    Everybody points out the quite obvious fact that the shooter was deranged, but I can not believe that I am the only person to have noticed that the a$$hole was also quite obviously confused…. And yet it seems that I am.

    I will find it quite hilarious if it turns out that the idiot thought the FRC was a pro-gay group.

  33. Just Me says:

    When things like this happen I generally go for the easiest explanation which almost always turns out to be mental illness. Of the most recent shootings, this guy seems to be the least deranged and most politically motivated of the bunch. I think the purchase of the Chik-fil-A sandwiches was weird though.

    That said, unless the SPLC told him to go shoot up the FRC then they hold absolutely no role in the shootings. The shooter is responsible.

    What bothers me about this incident is the media double standard. I think the fact that nobody died made it less of a media story, but if every aspect of this incident had been reversed and a guy who volunteered for FRC went and shot but didn’t kill a security guard at SPLC or HRC it wouldn’t have taken CNN 3 hours to report the incident and the left would be crowing about how FRC is to blame for the shooting.

    Shoot when Loughner went on his rampage in Arizona there were still accusations that Palin was to blame even after it was clear the man had a long history of mental illness.

    It is a media double standard.

  34. PGlenn says:

    Doug, I strongly agree with you and thus strongly disagree with Perkins. However, your point that “this kind of argument is something the right just absolutely loves” is almost as weak as Perkins’s argument.

    Hypothetically, what if Perkins made the statement for strategic reasons? Probably very unlikely, but just for sake of argument . . Perkins managed to get a hard-core partisan hack like Benen to state for the record that “it’s unfair to blame [right-wing punidts] for the actions of a madman.” Presumably, other left-wing hacks will make similar arguments over the next few days, which will also be on the record. Then, Perkins would take Benen’s advice – as he intended to do all along – and call another press conference (or appear on air) to say that, after he had a chance to catch his breath and reflect on the incident, he wanted to reconsider his original statement. He could then apologize for being hasty, revise his statement, and explain that he was thankful for Benen for establishing the Benen Rule, which henceforth will be applied in all such situations.

    Again, I have zero reason to believe that Perkins’s statement was calculated in such a way, but at least the statement inadvertantly got Benen to make a reasonable argument for once.

  35. @mattb:

    As mentioned in that debate, I consider “well the Bible says…” to be a moral cop out. There’s lots of books that say lots of things; it’s ultimately the reader that chooses which parts of which books they believe, and the moral responsibility for those beliefs extends from those decisions, not from the books.

  36. @Robert in SF:

    Oh it’s worse than that, the FRC has outright advocated violence toward homosexuals.

    FRC Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg:

    MATTHEWS: Do you think we should outlaw gay behavior?

    SPRIGG: Well, I certainly…

    (CROSSTALK)

    MATTHEWS: I‘m just asking you, should we outlaw gay behavior?

    SPRIGG: I think that the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned the sodomy laws in this country, was wrongly decided. I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.

    MATTHEWS: So, we should outlaw gay behavior?

    SPRIGG: Yes.

  37. mattb says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    We’ll agree to disagree on this issue (as I think we did on the last thread).

    The issue is if you are a Christian, then you need to accept that the Bible pretty much trumps everything — much like is the necessity for any Religion based on a specific text or texts.

    FRC is a Chrisitian organization, so everything ultimately reduces to the Bible for them.

    Now, all that said, the Bible — like every other text — is open to hermeneutic interpretation.

  38. @mattb:

    Well I find two faults with your premise:

    1. I don’t agree the Christians MUST accept the Bible pretty much trumps everything.
    2. Even if it did, then the question becomes, “Well then why do you choose to be Christian?”

    Ultimately, your actions are your responsibility, and you can’t excuse them merely by claiming to have outsourced your moral judgement to an outside party.

  39. Robert in SF says:

    @mattb: I don’t think that the majority of persons disagree with your believing the Bible as the ultimate source of what’s right and wrong for you…it’s when you try to institutionilize the Biblical requirements or interpretation of the Bible as the law of the land without regard for others’ beliefs.

    In the Bible, God condemns greed, gluttony, drinking, gambling, lying, not marrying your brother’s widow, laughing at bald men, and a ton of other things…that’s fine to everyone if you choose not to engage in those activities. But based solely on Biblical commandments is not sufficient to set civil law.

    So if you don’t agree that two men or women are married in the eye’s of the Lord, then fine…you don’t have to recognize it in your heart, in your Church, or in your life…but the government and the law of the land sets it’s own rules on that recognition.

    Just as the Catholic church doesn’t recognize some Catholic’s legal marriages as Catholic marriages, they are require to. No one’s pushing them to either….not as far as I know….

  40. mattb says:

    *Sigh*

    @Stormy Dragon

    1. I don’t agree the Christians MUST accept the Bible pretty much trumps everything.

    We’ll have to disagree (As we did before). Here’s my position — at some point the buck has to stop. If you belong to X religious group, and that group has a core religious text, then the fact is that the buck stops with that text (unless of course the text tells you otherwise).

    2. Even if it did, then the question becomes, “Well then why do you choose to be Christian?”

    You are attempting to apply logic to matters of faith. At some point, when pushed hard enough, there is a point where logic/reason end and faith must necessarily begin.

    If you (not “you” Stormy, but the general “you”) cannot make that jump, then you shouldn’t call yourself a member of that Religious group.

    @Robert in SF:
    One area that Boyd and I agree on is that you don’t get to simply cherry pick the sections of the bible (or other religious text) that you want to follow. It’s either all in or all out.

    Now that isn’t to say that there is a single “true” interpretation of the text. There are — what I would argue — are better interpretations than others and there are outright incorrect interpretations (i.e. there is not internal consistency to the interpretation).

    And one has to accept that it is always being interpreted in a larger context.

    Which gets to:

    In the Bible, God condemns greed, gluttony, drinking, gambling, lying, not marrying your brother’s widow, laughing at bald men, and a ton of other things…that’s fine to everyone if you choose not to engage in those activities. But based solely on Biblical commandments is not sufficient to set civil law.

    First, I haven’t been arguing that they should be set into civil law. Second, at least from a Christian perspective, I think Christ nicely acknowledges the issue of God’s Law versus Civil Law and sets them up as two different things (render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s). Though that isn’t to say one law necessarily trumps the other.

    Finally, as I often remind, most of the condemning takes place in a section of the OT. If you’re trying to apply those laws as a Christian, then it’s all (i.e. you should be fully keeping hard Kosher) or nothing (or rather accept the fact that as Christ says, he is the new Covenant which supersedes the old laws that came before — at that point you then need to reconcile the previous laws with his teachings).

    Again am I supporting for a moment the type of hateful advocacy work that the FRC does. (Yes, I think it’s hateful. And I think you can opposed their work from an internally consistent Christian standpoint)..

    But I also don’t think that religion can be anything you want to it be and still be religion.

  41. Robert in SF says:

    @mattb: Mattb, I was wrong then in my response to you. I was responding to a point of view I see now that you didn’t actually express.

    I’m sorry about that, I was a little presumptuous and lazy. I will try to be more considerate in my responses to make sure that I read/refer to the comments of the person to whom I am replying’, prior comments, and not what I thought they were saying.

    Again, sorry about the tone and scope of my comment to you specifically. It’s a passionate subject to me, as you can tell, but that’s no excuse to make assumptions and jump the gun on a reply.

  42. @mattb:

    We’ll have to disagree (As we did before). Here’s my position — at some point the buck has to stop. If you belong to X religious group, and that group has a core religious text, then the fact is that the buck stops with that text (unless of course the text tells you otherwise).

    So in your mind, any Christian denomination that does not teach Biblical inerrancy is not actually Christian? Specifically to include, according to some, the post-Vatican II Catholic Church?

  43. mattb says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    So in your mind, any Christian denomination that does not teach Biblical inerrancy is not actually Christian?

    It all depends on their notion of inerrancy. Is it the literal word of God? Is it the literal account of what happened? Is it all figurative… on and on.

    Let me be clear, in case I’ve failed to be, I am not arguing for vulgar inerrancy.

    What I’m saying is that other texts cannot supersede the bible if you want to be a Christian. And again, I believe this is true of any organized religion centralized around a specific text (or collection of texts). There’s a reason why other readings from non-biblical materials are not a standard part of most Christian Services.

    Now, I think I’ve also been pretty clear that sections of the bible can supersede each other. And that I don’t believe the text can be taken at face value (hence why I keep bringing up hermenutics). And within the bible there is a hierarchic structure for getting at what supersedes what (as a general rule “Christ Wins”).

    And external works can be brought to assist in Bibical Interpretation (as with other religious texts) but they cannot supercede them (anymore than any specific interpretation of the Bible can supersede the text of the Bible).

    Specifically to include, according to some, the post-Vatican II Catholic Church?

    The key phrase here is “according to some.” We can quickly get into “True Scotsman” arguments here. Protestants don’t think that the Catholics are true Christians (see Luther on the Pope as the Anti-Christ). Vatican I Catholics don’t think Vatican II Catholics are real Christians. Don’t get any of them started on Mormons.

  44. An Interested Party says:

    If you belong to X religious group, and that group has a core religious text, then the fact is that the buck stops with that text (unless of course the text tells you otherwise).

    Even with that said, most Christians who use the Bible to justify their homophobic attitudes are rank hypocrites in that they do not denounce so many other forbidden things from the Bible that most of them probably don’t even think of as sins…

  45. @mattb:

    There’s a reason why other readings from non-biblical materials are not a standard part of most Christian Services.

    Have you ever been to a Christian worship service? Actual Bible readings normally only make up a tiny part of the services at most denominations, the rest being filled with liturgy that are non-biblical in origin.

  46. mattb says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    The form of the service is not necessarily biblical in origin. However the text of the service — the creeds, the hymns, benedictions, etc — are all drawn from the bible and none of them supersede the bible.

    A Christian declares their creed, but the creed is not more important than the text of the bible.

    What am I writing here that isn’t clear?!

    You cannot be a Chrisitian and think that another text supersedes the bible. You cannot be a Muslium and think another text supersedes the Koran. You cannot be a *religious* (as opposed to ethnic) Jew and think that another text supersedes the Torah (written and oral).

    You can be members of each and believe that other texts interpret or express those texts (including the text of the service).

  47. mattb says:

    BTW, this has really gone off topic, and I suspect that we should just agree to disagree.

  48. @mattb:

    I’d argue that the Canons of the Council supersede the Bible for Christianity. For one things, they define what’s actually in the Bible. Additionally, that’s were all sort of things (like Trinitarianism) that are considered intergal parts of Christianity derive from.

  49. mattb says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    You raise a fair point, though one that I don’t think is incompatible with my position.

    The Canons of Council arguable help define the bible (identifying the Canonical texts — though we should also note that different sects have different bibles based on their own traditions), but don’t necessarily supersede it.

    As for the issue of Trinitarianism, it’s not made up out of whole cloth, the root of the concept comes from an interpretation of Biblical verse. While the concept itself is an interpretation of the text, what they are not doing is adding something completely new (i.e. deciding of a “quadrianum” system by adding an extra figure, say “Steve”, not seen anywhere within the Bible).