Religious and political extremism exists in all shapes and forms. A sad realization of this fact took place just yesterday, when Scott Roeder shot and killed George Tiller outside of his church in Wichita, Kansas. Dr. Tiller was one of three American doctors who performed late-term abortions.
Roeder has been described as an extreme anti-government right-winger who adheres to religious fundamentalism—the Christian sort. “The anti-tax stuff came first, and then it grew and grew. He became very anti-abortion,” said his ex-wife. After becoming associated with anti-government groups, he became “very religious in an Old Testament, eye-for-an-eye way,” she explains.
This is not the first time that violence has been used against Dr. Tiller. He has been a high-profile target for violent extremists throughout the years due to his practice. In 1993, he was shot in both arms by one Shelley Shannon, also a Christian “pro-lifer.” His clinic has been vandalized on numerous occasions, including being bombed in 1985.
These and this latest act of cowardly violence should be called what it is: terrorism. The term “terrorism” and “terrorist” cannot and should not be ascribed only to Muslims, a common practice by the media (you won’t hear the media call Roeder a terrorist). Violence in the name of Christianity is just as wrong as violence in the name of Islam, or any other religion or creed for that matter. All aggressive violence must be firmly rejected and opposed on all grounds. There can be no room for it in a civil, just, or moral society. Dr. Tiller’s church, the Reformation Lutheran Church, expounds: “We must always strive to engage in peaceful discussion. Our faith calls us to this. Our humanity demands it.” Earlier, President Obama stated, “I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning. However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.” I could not agree more with the church or the president.
To cloak these deeply violent and anti-women beliefs with terms such “pro life,” “culture of love,” “righteous,” “Christian,” “Summer of Mercy,” is not only completely hypocritical, but also vastly disingenuous and truly Orwellian. The “pro-life” slogan, a particularly popular albeit empty slogan, is a contradictory one. It is a sham. So-called “pro lifers” ignore the actual life involved: the mother’s. (“Pro choice” is equally empty.) A woman’s body does not belong to men, the Church, or the State. They are not our breeding pigs. We cannot treat them as such. Abortion is and should always be an inalienable right for women.