Killing of George Tiller: Faith-based reactions
Faith-based groups on both sides of the abortion divide are condemning the murder of Dr. George Tiller, the Wichita physician who was gunned down on Sunday while attending a church service. As medical director of one of the few clinics nationwide that performs late-term abortions, Tiller had been the target of protests and had survived a shooting attack in 1993.
The statements from faith-based groups vary widely in content and tone; following, unedited, are several.
"We are shocked at this morning's disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down. Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller's family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ."
Randall Terry, founder, Operation Rescue:
"George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller's killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name; murder.
"Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the Law of God. We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches."
Mary Kay Culp, state executive director, Kansans for Life:
"Kansans for Life deplores the murder of Dr. George Tiller, and we wish to express our deep and sincere sympathy to his family and friends.
"Our organization has a board of directors, and a 35 year history of bringing citizens together to achieve thoughtful education and legislation on the life issues here in Kansas.
"We value life, completely deplore violence, and are shocked and very upset by what happened in Wichita today."
Michael O. Jackels, bishop of Wichita:
"The Catholic community extends sympathy to the family of Dr. George Tiller, a victim of violent crime made even more heinous, if that is possible, by being committed in a church as he was preparing for worship.
"Many Catholics have over the years engaged in peaceful protest outside of Dr. Tiller's clinic, praying for an end to abortion, and especially late-term abortions; I have on occasion joined them for this purpose. This position and hope cannot however serve as a justification for committing other sins and crimes, like the willful destruction of property and, even worse, murder.
"It is my prayer that the Tiller family find consolation, that Dr. George Tiller find mercy and the fulfillment of the great hope of Christians, and that all will find peaceful and legal means to resolve differences."
The Rev. Frank Pavone, national director, Priests for Life:
“I am saddened to hear of the killing of George Tiller this morning. At this point, we do not know the motives of this act, or who is behind it, whether an angry post-abortive man or woman, or a misguided activist, or an enemy within the abortion industry, or a political enemy frustrated with the way Tiller has escaped prosecution. We should not jump to conclusions or rush to judgment.
“But whatever the motives, we at Priests for Life continue to insist on a culture in which violence is never seen as the solution to any problem. Every life has to be protected, without regard to their age or views or actions.”
Dr. Alveda C. King, pastoral associate, Priests for Life, niece of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:
“Two years ago, I visited George Tiller’s clinic in hope of telling him that babies desire mercy. I wanted to share with him the harm I experienced from abortion. My prayer was that one day he would join me in repentance. I am deeply sorry that his life was taken before that could happen.
“It’s especially horrifying that Dr. Tiller was shot in church. My grandmother, Alberta King, was killed by a Christian-hating gunman as she played the organ during Sunday services. Just as the womb should be a safe haven, so should church. I condemn this murder in the strongest possible terms.”
Bill Donahue, president, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights:
"The Catholic League unequivocally condemns the killing of serial killer, Dr. George Tiller. As I said on the CBS Evening News, 'We have to get the message out that life means we have to respect all life, including somebody as bad as Dr. Tiller was.' Unfortunately, his death has already occasioned a highly political response from his allies.
"From what we know of the suspect, Scott Roeder, the ex-con fits the profile of a deranged man. Yet there are those who are already trying to pin the blame on others. Andrew Sullivan and the Daily Kos have fingered Bill O’Reilly and are running a video of O’Reilly’s past denunciations of Tiller. Worse than this irresponsible accusation is the hypocrisy of the Daily Kos: above the O’Reilly video is an advertisement for an upcoming interview on C-Span2 with Bill Ayers, the urban terrorist who is a hero in some left-wing circles.
"Others are busy collectivizing the guilt. Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, refers to 'those who are behind this murder,' suggesting that this is part of a pro-life cabal. Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, also blames 'individuals' for Tiller’s death. Similarly, Dr. Warren Hern, a late-term abortionist from Colorado, said Tiller’s death was the result of 'a fascist movement in this country.'
"Perhaps the ultimate politicization is the decision by U.S. Attorney Eric Holder ordering federal marshals to protect 'other appropriate people and facilities around the nation.' Thus does Holder feed the frenzy of the pro-abortion industry that what happened to Tiller is the work of the pro-life community. We will closely monitor these developments."
Catholics for Choice:
"Catholics for Choice extends its deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Dr. George Tiller, who was shot and killed as he attended church today. Dr Tiller was a courageous advocate for women. He worked tirelessly to ensure that women's health-care needs were met, even in the most difficult circumstances. Catholics for Choice celebrates his life and work."
Kansas Coalition for Life:
"The Kansas Coalition for Life Unequivocally Condemns the Shooting of Abortionist George Tiller.
"Although at the time of this writing, it is not known who killed Abortionist Tiller, we do know for certain that this crime was NOT the work of any true proLife person. A true proLife person respects human life as a gift from God, and leaves all life and death decisions to God Himself.
This killing -- if it is in any way connected to a genuine proLife group, has the potential to set back the proLife movement by 20 years or more.
"The Kansas Coalition for Life asks all reporters and commentators to make a clear distinction between lawless thugs who act on their own accord, and the good proLife people who obey the law, seeking a change in abortion laws via peaceful means and the legislative process.
"It is completely misleading, for the media to imply, in any way that this is the work of the proLife movement. We urge the media to report responsibly and truthfully in this regard.
KCFL would have much preferred that Abortionist Tiller follow the footsteps of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a former abortionist who is now one of America's most prominent and effective proLife leaders.
"In 1993 Shelly Shannon, who had no connection whatsoever to any proLife organization, brought shame on all proLife groups by her stupid action, when she attempted to kill abortionist Tiller as he entered his abortion facility on East Kellogg Drive at Bleckley Street in Wichita.
"Tiller's death comes at a time when all recent polling data shows that the peaceful proLife message has the support of a majority of American voters. We hope this terrible news does not hurt the steady progress that the proLife movement has made by peaceful legal means over the years."
Kansas Family Policy Council
"The Kansas Family Policy is grieved and shocked at the murder of George Tiller. Violence is never condoned by KFPC or any pro-life organization. We grieve not only for George Tiller but for all those who have prayed for him over the years. Our prayers are with his family and his church."
Sources: Kansas.com, organizations