FRC President: 'Reckless Rhetoric' Led to Shooting

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Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, is calling for an end to "reckless rhetoric" he believes is behind Wednesday's shooting at the conservative group's office in Washington, D.C.

Leo Johnson is recovering after he was shot in the arm in what federal authorities have labeled an act of domestic terrorism.

The Wednesday morning incident began when suspected shooter Floyd Corkins, 28, entered FRC headquarters off G Street, and reportedly made statements opposing the company's policies.

He then shot Johnson, an FRC building operations manager who also serves as a security guard. Johnson was unarmed and not in uniform.

"Floyd Corkins was responsible for firing the shot that wounded our friend," Perkins said Thursday.

"But Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by groups like the SPLC that have been reckless in labeling organizations 'hate groups' because they disagree with them on public policy," he added.

Hate Group?

In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center put the FRC on the same "hate group" list as the Klu Klux Klan and neo-Nazis because of its stance in favor of traditional marriage.

Jerry Boykin, a retired Army general and FRC's new executive vice president, was at the office when the shooting occurred.

"I tell you what, you couldn't blow me out of here with a stick of dynamite now," he told CBN News. "I am so determined that we are going to continue standing for biblical values, family values, freedom, faith."

"I hope that this stimulates other Americans that have the same values to get involved in what's going on in this country," Boykins continued. "We're not going away. We're not going to back down."

Since the incident, Perkins visited Johnson in the hospital. Despite his injury, the unarmed Johnson and others tackled the suspect and wrestle him to the floor.

"When I told him his actions were heroic in protecting his colleagues, he told me that he just reacted in the way he thought anyone at FRC would have responded," Perkins said.

He added that his organization is grateful for the continued prayers and support from around the world.

A Dangerous Atmosphere

Corkins, who was taken into FBI custody, is a volunteer worker at a Washington community center for the homosexual and transgender population of D.C.

"Well, I'm very shocked. It's very surprising," a neighbor said of Corkin's attack.

FRC is known as a conservative Christian lobbying organizations, especially well-known for its support of traditional marriage and stance against abortion.

The suspect was also reportedly carrying a Chick-fil-A bag. Chick-Fil-A's president, Dan Cathy, has been under fire for opposing gay marriage and funding groups like FRC.

Some conservatives say if Wednesday's attack was politically motivated, liberal and pro-gay organizations that keep labeling FRC a "hate group" for opposing gay marriage are partially to blame for the dangerous atmosphere.

We'd like to hear your thoughts on how liberal groups are labeling those who stand for biblical beliefs as 'hate groups.' join the discussion at our CBN News Facebook page.

"This has got to be a wake-up call to everybody in the conservative movement," Media Research Center's Dan Gainor said. "If it turns out early reports are accurate and this individual did this based on politics, it's not that it's new.  It's the culmination of years of leftie demonization of conservative groups."

National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown agreed.

"Such harmful and dangerous labels deserve no place in our civil society," he said, calling on pro-gay organizations "to withdraw such incendiary rhetoric from a debate that involves millions of good Americans."

Many liberals and gay rights activists often refer to those who disagree with them as "haters" or "hate groups."

Stirring the Pot

Just this past Friday, gay Campus Pride leader Shane L. Windmeyer blasted Chick-fil-A for its support of traditional marriage in an Huffington Post editorial.

"Through its family-controlled nonprofit arm, Chick-fil-A profits have funded such groups as Eagle Forum, Exodus International, Family Research Council, and Focus on the Family," he wrote.

"Chick-fil-A profits fund documented hate groups that aggressively work against LGBT people, advocating their criminalization, psychological abuse, or death," he added.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said it labels FRC a hate group because it disseminates false information to defame gays.

But FRC senior fellow Peter Sprigg told CBN news that's not true.

"I don't expect everyone to agree with some of the things that we assert about the homosexual lifestyle," Sprigg said. "But we do present evidence in support of those assertions, and they are certainly not falsehoods or fabrications."

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.