8/27 update: Now with a silver lining, read below!
There’s a lot of weird stuff going on, locally, within the atheism movement, and nationally. Becky, Mike and Sam get together and chat about it. What do we talk about this week? The new “Atheism+” movement, the Family Research Council shooting, and our own problems with Washington United for Marriage, the organization behind Referendum 74.
To bring some fun to events, we’re joined by Dan Lombardo for the first time with “a Moment of Science.”
There is many show notes, updated throughout the week:
Washington United for Marriage:
Here is a copy of the statement from the Producers of Ask an Atheist regarding Washington United for Marriage’s rejection of our endorsement and the endorsement of other atheist organizations.
On Monday, Washington United for Marriage changed their mind! Read about it here!
Family Research Council:
Here is a text copy of our statement about the Family Research Council shooting, authored by Mike:
Last week, a young man with a nine millimeter handgun named Floyd Lee Corkins walked into the Washington DC lobby of the Family Research Council, a fundamentalist Christian lobbying group.
Stopped by a security guard, Corkins opened fire, hitting the guard in the arm before being subdued and disarmed. Found in the shooter’s backpack was additional ammunition and literature about the FRC’s anti-gay policies and support of Chick Fil A’s recent statements about same-sex marriage.
Corkins has a history working with LGBT rights organizations, which have been some of the first to condemn the shooting.
The producers of Ask an Atheist want to communicate our sympathies with the security guard and his family and all those affected by the shooting.
Tony Perkins, the Family Research Council’s president and a former Republican lawmaker, held a press conference soon after where he laid the blame for the attack on the Southern Poverty Law Center, which had labeled the FRC as a “hate group.”
Perkins claims that the SPLC label “gave people license” to use violence against their group and calls for the label to be removed.
And it’s here where my sympathy for the Family Research Council ends, because their prescription for preventing a future shooting basically amounts to telling their critics to just shut up.
This is unacceptable and indicative of the Christian privilege that the FRC espouses and the hypocrisy they embody.
In their world, only they are allowed to criticize their political opponents, often with junk science, with bigoted lies and with slander.
If any group is catering to a bullying environment that accommodates violence against its opponents, it’s the FRC.
When the African country, of Uganda – with the overt influence of American evangelical leaders – was pushing a piece of legislation that included the death penalty for homosexuality, the U.S. Congress quickly condemned the bill.
The Family Research Council lobbied hard against the condemnation of the bill.
They’ve accused gays serving in the military of being rapists, they’ve wrongly accused gay men of being pedophiles, and they’ve repeatedly put forward thoroughly debunked studies to support their lies.
The Family Research Council has given the gay community a lot to fear, because despite their extremism, they have a lot of powerful political allies and they flex their muscles quite a bit.
Floyd Lee Corkins had every reason to fear the FRC and a damned good cause to be angry at them. His anger and his fear were totally justified.
His violent actions were not and can not be justified.
The Southern Poverty Law Center didn’t give him license to commit murder when they rightly labeled the Family Research Council, just as the FRC didn’t give him license to commit murder by lobbying for hateful legislation and making vile bigoted statements.
Floyd Lee Corkins is responsible for his actions and should face justice for them.
And the fact that someone commited a terrible crime against them doesn’t render the FRC immune to criticism. It doesn’t cancel out the fact that they remain a hate group.