Death’s Hand on the Tiller

 
 
Flannery O’Connor couldn’t have written it better, although she would have found a way to make it funny: A wealthy abortionist, who specializes in the destruction of children exactly as old and fully developed as those you see doctors saving in the preemie ward, stays out of prison for his activities thanks to a technicality at trial. Although he has been shot twice in his arms by misguided pro-lifers trying to stop his medical practice with “minimal force,” he soldiers on heroically for years, as Rod Dreher writes, “putting scissors into the brains of partially-born babies and sucking their brains out.” He lasts long enough to see his political patron, the state’s Catholic governor, get appointed the nation’s healthcare czar with the backing of a local Catholic convert senator, by a president who won the majority of the Catholic vote and did a star turn collecting an honorary doctorate from Notre Dame — with the seeming approval of the editor of L’Osservatore Romano.
 
Things are looking pretty good for Dr. George Tiller, and he goes to his local house of worship to thank his particular god for the triumph of moral sanity in this country. Then someone bursts in with a gun and shoots him down right in front of his family and the entire congregation, someone who turns out to be a longtime schizophrenic with flimsy ties to the uttermost fringe of the pro-life movement, whose obsession is waging an anarchist war against the “tyrannical” U.S. government. The group with which the apparent assassin, Scott Roeder, 51, had kept some connection was, according to LifeSiteNews, “the so-called Army of God, a group that advocates domestic terror, violence, and murder against abortion facilities and those who work there.” To find an equivalently outlaw and irrelevant pro-choice organization, you’d have to turn to the Church of Euthanasia — a group led by the flamboyant transvestite Chris Korda, which celebrates abortion along with pandemics, natural disasters, and the deaths on 9/11, since they cull the “dangerously high” human population. (Check out its home page for an image of Korda licking the World Trade Center tower as one of the high-jacked planes plows into the side. Is this the face of pro-choice America? Maybe it’s time we started insisting it really is.)
 
We shouldn’t be surprised to see that pro-choice commentators are moving already to turn last week’s snuff farce into a morality play, whose take-away message is that the pro-life movement is to blame for Tiller’s death. (Give him time, and Stephen Spielberg will make a three-hour epic called Tiller’s Gift, starring Tom Hanks as the man with the healing hands.) A powerful, mainstream Democratic Party Web site, TPMCafe.com, published on May 31 a column that blames the death of Tiller on the simple fact that pro-lifers accurately describe what happens in the course of an abortion. As the anonymous blogger writes:
 
Ever since the Roe v Wade decision by the Supreme Court made abortion safe and legal the nation has endured an endless, vitriolic campaign of harrassment [sic]led by the Roman Catholic Church and Fundamentalist Protestants. This is an indisputable fact. For decades these institutions have drilled into the heads of their flocks that those who participate in any way in any abortion are “murderers” and “baby killers”. This would include the the [sic] mothers as well as the doctors and all the other healthcare workers involved. They founded the anti-abortion movement, they have grown it, they have taken credit for it, they have led it, they have exhorted it, they have driven it, they have funded it, they have been responsible for continuing it long after the legal question was decided and put to rest for the vast majority of our people — even those who so blindly follow them.
 
They have harrassed [sic] doctors, nurses, pregnant women and anyone else who happened to have business in any office or building that provided abortion services or even advice about where to find abortion services. Gore drenched pictures of mangled fetuses in garbage pales, swastikas, and all manner of shrill visual and audio props have been shoved in the faces of any passers by and those who enter the buildings housing such offices. These props (provided by the religiously motivated opposition to abortion) are used by misguided zealots whose hearts and minds are often filled with so much love for Jesus and the unborn that they lose sight of any boundaries of propriety in their behavior and their obsessive harrassment [sic] of people who are seeking help for a legal and safe medical procedure. More than once this zealotry has turned criminally violent. These narrow-minded mobs never tire of hurling invectives and the worst sorts of bile at anyone or any institution that is connected in any way to an abortion provider.
 
Now the spelling and grammar errors above indicate that this is not the work of the finest minds in the Democratic Party. Instead it’s a trial balloon, a little Hindenburg sent over to explode above our heads and see how much shrapnel we will take.
 
More dangerous to the cause of life than rants like this are statements and actions by Christians asserting that pro-life speech is inherently deadly — and so must in the end be regulated, as speech is ever more tightly controlled in Canada and Great Britain. Rod Dreher has already said all that needs to be said about the service held in a Boston Episcopal church denouncing pro-lifers and celebrating Tiller’s medical practice. Dreher mentions Moloch — the ancient pagan god of infant sacrifice. Oops! Rod’s speech right there might have been inflammatory, so let me try that again in Anglo-Canadian: “Moloch, the pre-Christian god of reproductive health care services.” St. George Orwell, ora pro nobis.
 
Having spent an afternoon this week praying with an Anglican curate in Westminster Abbey at the tomb of St. Edward the Confessor, I’ll refrain from cracking wise about the state of the Episcopalians. Reading excerpts from Archbishop Weakland’s puling memoirs I’m forced to say, “There but for the writers of The Wanderer went we.”
 
 
More sickening and surprising than the rites of Boston druids was the response of Franky Schaeffer, whose pro-life book A Modest Proposal I read as a teenager. Schaeffer writes today:
 
My late father and I share part of the blame for the murder of Dr. George Tiller, the abortion doctor gunned down on Sunday. Until I got out of the religious right (in the mid-1980s) and repented of my former hate-filled rhetoric, I was both a leader of the so-called pro-life movement and a part of a Republican Party hate machine masquerading as the moral conscience of America.
 
One needn’t read any further to get Schaeffer’s drift: “Hey, NPR listeners out there! I’ve reinvented myself, as you can read in my prominently plugged new book, Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don’t Like Religion (Or Atheism).” Schaeffer’s column reminded me vividly of the anger provoked in me by his “hate-filled” book: I was angry because it wasn’t better written, and hated slogging through it.
 
But there is a serious point that nestles here behind all the bull-hockey and fulminations: If we as pro-lifers really believe that a million or so American children are being murdered every year, why don’t we do something about it directly? We rightly use metaphors recalling the Holocaust, U.S. chattel slavery, and other atrocious assaults on human dignity — and if we think those through, we will remember that they were ended not by pacifist prayer chains but armies in battle. People who say that “violence never solves anything” should come to Germany, where I’m staying this week. The flags here are different than they were in 1945, and my father who served under Patton that year said that the transition wasn’t seamless.
 
Like 99.9 percent of pro-lifers, I do not advocate the use of armed force to end abortion today. But I want to be clear about why.It’s not because the use of force is wrong; it isn’t. When Gandhi told Jews to employ non-violent resistance against the Germans, he proved himself an ass. Non-violence worked against the British because that empire was possessed of two things that didn’t exist in Germany: a strong moral conscience and an open-minded press.
 
Likewise, the American Civil Rights movement could count on the Christian conscience of most Americans and, equally importantly, sympathetic newspapers and TV stations outside the South. The good people (and several of them are friends of mine) who were leaders in Operation Rescue looked to Martin Luther King Jr. as the model for ending the scourge of abortion. Surely, they said, the sight of non-violent Americans going to jail by the tens of thousands would waken America’s conscience . . .
 
Except that the (90 percent plus) pro-choice media made sure no one ever saw them — or worse, that they only saw the occasional fruitcake using a bullhorn to shout in a pregnant woman’s face. They didn’t see the samizdat videos of cops in West Hartford, Connecticut, hitting old ladies with billy clubs, or L.A. police using martial arts weapons to break the wrists of teenagers. And apart from YouTube, no one ever will. If the national media through the 1950s and 1960s had been at the hands of segregationists, Bull Connor might have enjoyed such a triumphant Viking funeral as surely awaits George Tiller.
 
 
The reason it’s wrong to kill abortionists is that it is an act of war, and one that does not meet the conditions for a Just War.When the State allows an activity, and you use force to prevent it, you are declaring war on the State — as surely as early Christians would have been doing if they used force to free their co-religionists from the Coliseum, or free Roman slaves from the mines or prostitution. None of which, students of history will know, early Christians actually did. This wasn’t because they were pacifists; many Christians served in the Roman armies, such as that patron of soldiers St. Sebastian. Some early version of the Just War theory finally formulated (not invented) by St. Augustine was surely at work. That Just War theory found in Augustine’s writings still binds us today — albeit with certain adjustments and clarifications to cover cases of legitimate revolt against a tyranny, and speculations by the likes of Robert Bellarmine on the rightness or wrongness of killing tyrants.
 
If, by engaging in organized violence to save lives left unprotected by the State, one is indeed declaring war upon that State, the conditions of Just War teaching must be met — or else you are nothing more than a terrorist, an irresponsible person (like poor, deluded Guy Fawkes) whose actions will do nothing more than encourage a persecution of the Church.
 
What are the conditions for a war (in this case, a revolution) to be just? You can read them in detail here, but central to them are:
 
A just cause, defending the innocent from attack. (Check.)
 
A situation that long experience has shown cannot be resolved by peaceful means. (Not yet, not by any means; impatience with rejiggering the Supreme Court doesn’t equal the presence of the Gestapo.)
 
An evil proportionate to the evils that will come from war. (Not clear at all; see the horrors of the civil strife in Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, Bosnia, Palestine — are we ready to inflict all that upon our neighbors?)
 
A reasonable chance of success. (Would a civil war launched by orthodox Christians against America’s secular regime end in a just peace that preserved innocent lives? Or millions of dead, and a de-Christianized America? Would “winning” even be worth it — given what happened to the Church in Spain shortly after the “friendly” regime installed by Franco passed from the stage — when Catholics were tarred, rightly or wrongly, with all the crimes of the victors?)
 
As the soul is more significant than the body, the Church’s mission of preaching the gospel and administering the Sacraments is more important even than saving innocent lives. Pope Pius XII knew that and acted accordingly, trying to save as many innocent Jews and others as he could without depriving millions of souls of the Sacraments. He paid for his decision with his reputation — a price I am sure he would pay again.
 
This price of patience, of painful solidarity with the suffering and grim, tedious activism in the face of apparent futility, is the cross we must carry today. Instead of dying nobly (much less killing) for a cause, we are called to live and suffer for it humbly — each in our various ways. As time goes on, as more madmen take it upon themselves to execute mass-murderers like George Tiller, the State they are provoking will respond with increasing force. Pro-lifers who stay faithful to Just War teaching, and live within the law while fighting to change it, will pay the price. Some of us may end in jail, like the good Joan Andrews. If matters escalate into a full-scale persecution, such as happened in Mexico, there may well come a time when we are called on to act like the Cristeros, to make the bitter choice of accepting civil war instead of tyranny.
 
But let us remember the awful price exacted by any such war, and consider it truly the bitter last resort. As Pope John Paul II repeatedly and rightly said: “No more war, never again!” He spoke as a citizen of Poland, a land where one out of every four human beings perished in World War II, where Nazi conquerors established Auschwitz, and Soviet liberators perpetrated the massacre at Katyn. His voice was born not of naiveté but of memory — which is always the enemy of extremism.
 
No doubt we are called on to pray for the soul of Dr. George Tiller. Myself, I’m a little bit more concerned for Franky Schaeffer’s.
 


John Zmirak
is author, most recently, of the graphic novel The Grand Inquisitor and is Writer-in-Residence at Thomas More College in New Hampshire. He writes weekly for InsideCatholic.com.

John Zmirak

By

John Zmirak is the author, most recently, of The Bad Catholic's Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins (Crossroad). He served from October 2011 to February 2012 as Editor of Crisis.

  • antigon

    In reference to your post, of course.

    Antigon

  • Rebecca

    Alright, I have a question here. I’m not quite understanding why trying to stop an abortionist using violence would be “declaring war on the state”. Let’s say it were suddenly legal in this country for husbands to kill their wives if they want. And I see somebody in front of me about to kill his wife. Wouldn’t the only sane thing be to do anything to stop that murder? I don’t think I’d be thinking about the state at all; I’d be thinking about that woman in front of me who is about to be killed. It seems pretty clear to me that in that case, it would not be wrong according to the Just War theory to use violence if necessary because you’re not in fact declaring war on the state; you’re trying to prevent this heinous crime, right now. Wouldn’t it be sort of crazy if we were to countenance women being murdered in front of our eyes because we thought that stopping the murder using violence might not fit the just war requirements? I know there is some difference in the case of abortion–there is usually a confused/coerced mother involved, there are prudential matters to consider, such as the overall approach and how many lives we can save in the long run by using completely nonviolent means. I’m not at all advocating killing abortionists, but I would like to better understand the moral reasoning. It just doesn’t seem to me that preventing an unjust action, though the action be legal, is per se “declaring war on the state.”

  • JC

    Interesting analysis of the situation, but I don’t think you’ve got the O’Connor down right. As the events unfolded, they sound more like something for Hitchcock or Rod Serling.

    You’re right that both Roeder and Tiller would make perfect types for O’Connor.

    Both misguided Christians. One a nice middle-class Lutheran who, if he were an O’Connor character, would be seen preaching love and tolerance and good manners and forgiveness and “pro-choice.” The other, a schizophrenic evangelical.

    But the confrontation, while reminiscent of “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” would not really be typical of O’Connor’s work.

    I think an O’Connor story might rather focus on Roeder as the misguided prophet, allowing the monster Tiller to have his moment of grace and reach salvation, while Roeder himself descended deeper into depravity, his judgementalism eating him away inside.

  • Joe H

    In spite of our past disagreements, John, I like what you have to say here and find myself in agreement.

    I wrote about this too, well, at least the language issue, at Vox Nova:

    http://tiny.cc/ep4GQ

    Suffice to say, I think now more than ever we need to defend the language we use to describe abortion – and abortionists – as it is one of the few and most effective weapons we have against this barbarism.

  • Susie

    Thanks John!
    Just to add:

    Ann Coulter said today: In a country with approximately 150 million pro-lifers, five abortionists have been killed since Roe v. Wade.

    In that same 36 years, more than 49 million babies have been killed by abortionists. Let’s recap that halftime score, sports fans: 49 million to five.

  • jplsr

    Although Scott Roeder is often referred to as “a Christian evangelical” or “a Christian fundamentalist,” no one has ever identified him as being a member of any particular church. Perhaps for 20 years he went to a Christian church where the minister regularly proclaimed, “God D— America.”

  • James D

    Can we please leave Ann Coulter out of this? [smiley=wink][smiley=think]

  • Donato Infante III

    I’m not at all advocating killing abortionists, but I would like to better understand the moral reasoning. It just doesn’t seem to me that preventing an unjust action, though the action be legal, is per se “declaring war on the state.”

    John’s argument about declaring war on the state is not the first one that comes to my mind either. Escalating violence is what comes to mind, which he gets to at the end. The issue isn’t who the war is being declared on, but what would happen is the country would descend into gang violence. Because the abortionist is doing something legal, the assassin will go to jail for the killing. If it became a common occurrence, guards would be at clinic doors shooting at the pro-lifers trying to get inside to stop abortions. This violence would do more harm than good.

  • Marchmaine

    John –

    Thanks for pointing Catholics to the correct framework for evaluating the future and progression of the Abortion controversy.

    Bonus points for zigging to the Christeros in Mexico, when the obvious zag would have been to tromp down the tired path of Civil Rights and the Civil War.

    Though, for Americans, it is important to note that it was not until South Carolina overplayed it’s hand that the Unionists were able to marshal a critical mass. And I say this as a southern sympathizer.

    If, God forefend, this should ever come to blows, I expect it will be owing to the Pro-Aborts overplaying theirs… not the other way ’round – as you correctly suggest.

  • Austin

    What kind of a “Church” could have Tiller as a member? Amazing.

  • Dave

    This has the potential to spin way out control. It is an inroad for the religious persecution that many of us fear may be on the way. Coupled with the erosion of our rights due to the “war on terror”, we could find Christian groups targeted and crushed on a scale never seen here. The ground is very fertile for this. The dress rehearsal for the antichrist is under way.

    I too was concerned for the soul of Franky Schaeffer after hearing his statements. I was reminded of Jesus advice that he who endures to the end will be saved. Frank is not enduring.

    BTW be careful of what you click on if you look at the Church of Euthanasia website!!

  • Christine

    AMEN! MAY GOD BE WITH US – AND GIVE US THE ‘MIND OF JESUS’ AS WE APPROACH THESE DAYS OF DECISION – WHICH ARE INEVITABLE.

  • Teri

    “He who lives by the sword, shall die by the sword.” Tiller’s end was his choice arising from the natural order of things. Too many disordered folks in an imperfect, chaotic world… One of them is bound to do something.

    A triumphant, Viking funeral indeed will proceed leading to more disordered minds and souls. It seems it will get a lot worse before it gets better.

  • Ann

    Interesting and informative article, thank you.

  • Dan H.

    Great article. I just have one objection:

    “When Gandhi told Jews to employ non-violent resistance against the Germans, he proved himself an ass.”

    Could we please refrain from calling Gandhi an “ass”? So he made a mistake here. That makes him a bit short-sighted in this case, not an “ass.” I think the spiritual father of modern India, the inspiration of Martin Luther King Jr., and one of the holiest men of the 20th century deserves a little more respect.

  • Kevin J Jones

    “They didn’t see the samizdat videos of cops in West Hartford, Connecticut, hitting old ladies with billy clubs, or L.A. police using martial arts weapons to break the wrists of teenagers. And apart from YouTube, no one ever will.”

    What? Somebody needs to compile this information and these videos.

    Was this information not shown because of journalists’ ideology, or because pro-life PR is incompetent? If you’re not getting heard, sometimes it’s your own fault. Pro-life groups get thousands in donations. Their competency needs auditing sometimes.

    I also question pro-lifers’ comparisons to abolitionists. Abolitionists and the reaction to them caused a civil war that killed 600,000. There are better examples.

  • InkStained

    “This price of patience, of painful solidarity with the suffering and grim, tedious activism in the face of apparent futility, is the cross we must carry today.”

    It may be God’s will that pro-lifers lose this fight.

  • Ann

    It may be God’s will that pro-lifers lose this fight.

    Why?

    I’m not a theologian by any stretch, but I can’t believe our God would want babies to be killed, in the womb or otherwise. He did give us free will however; we are free to do good, as well as evil.

  • MRA

    I just want to point out that Kevin Jones is being somewhat unfair to the abolitionists. That 600, 000 died doesn’t mean they acted wrongly. Evil begets evil, and we can’t presume that evils can always be defeated without casualities. As Lincoln put it in his 2nd Inaugural:

    “Fondly do we hope–fervently do we pray–that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether’.”

    We may well be in a similar moment in history, which I think is part of Mr. Zmirak’s point.

  • Brenda

    Here’s an oxymoron for you:

    “pro-life speech is inherently deadly”.

    It is NOT the WORDS crying out for LIFE that are deadly! It’s the ACTIONS of abortionists that are DEADly! Where there are 50 million corpses, in this story, there are 50 million MURDERS! Pro-LIFErs, are only showing people the results of their actions, so that they may make decisions that are better informed.

    I have done my best not to be aggressive in my use of words about abortion. But the great saint, Padre Pio, who died in 1968, was not always so gentle. Having the gift of being able to read a person’s soul, and thus see every sin they had ever committed, and which ones they had confessed and which ones they had NOT confessed, he was also shown by Jesus just how to approach a soul. So when one woman entered the confessional, before she could say anything, he said, “I HEAR A BABY CRYING!” She’d had an abortion. She ran from the confessional in tears. When someone asked him why he had been so hard on her, he replied, how else was I to bring her to repentance. With another woman, when he reminded her of her abortion, she said, “But Padre, I didn’t know abortion was a sin.” He replied, “YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABORTION WAS A SIN? THAT’S KILLING! …It’s a sin… a great sin.”

    Padre Pio also sent a woman away from the confessional such that she had to return 3 times because she “forgot” to confess her abortion. How can we not pick up the echo of St. Peter being asked by Our Lord, “Peter do you love me?” “YES, LORD! YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU!”; again, “Peter do you love me?” “YES LORD! YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU!”; and a third time, “Peter, do you love me?” and now Peter had to have caught on, understood the Lord was referring back to his three denials of him [smiley=shock],and must have replied more weakly, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” [smiley=sad] The implication is clear: abortion is a failure of love, which underlies all the Commandments. IMHO

  • Michael

    It may be God’s will that pro-lifers lose this fight.

    Why?

    Maybe because America is beyond redemption and has been judged.

  • sd

    It seems to me a bit too soon to do anything but pray. It hasn’t even been a week, and this must be quite raw for his family. I am adamantly pro-life, but performing this type of analysis 4 days after the guy has been shot down feels like crows swooping down on a dead animal. Couldn’t this wait? And please don’t use the excuse, “But the media has already…” We can set different standards. Let’s do better. We’re Christians.

  • ~Maureen

    The morally denuded blame pro-lifers for Tiller’s death as a tactical move to shut us down.

    The Pro-life movement has been stuck in the revolving door of hit-me-again-I-can-take-it and it is far past time that we become loud (okay, at least audible) in our condemnation of the merciless slaughter of babies.

    Why has it become so easy for us to drown ourselves in the pusillaneous excuses of “compassion” and “tenderness”? If this leads to silence, we are in need of a smack in the back of the head! When someone tells you about their abortion, take that as an invitation to tell them the truth. For instance, when God has put post-abortive women in my path, I gently tell them, “I’m so sorry that you have been through that. You probably felt you had no choice. But, you know that your choice was wrong and it hurt you, didn’t it?…” In each of these providential meetings, the woman would break down crying and admit that their life was screwed up ever since and ask what to do to be forgiven. Telling people that abortion is wrong is the truth and cannot be fudged upon. If you are wearing your Faith on your sleeve…and it is clear you are “one of those Jesus freaks”, when a woman tells you about her abortion it is because she is longing for forgiveness. God wants you to help guide her towards healing.

    There is no greater pro-life witness than the converted, repentive, post-abortive woman.

    Of all the abortion protests I have attended, the most dangerous pro-life nut I encountered was a little, wobbily, old man in his nineties, armed with a Rosary. (Oh, he must be stopped! He’s dangerous and frightening!) That man was the most dignified gentlemen I have ever encountered and is a hero.

    The Liberals would like nothing better than to paint us with the blood of their victims. They seek our silence and even our punishment for telling them that sin is wrong. Their consciences are dead and Satan in them is enraged at the possibility of their deliverance from mortal sin. The true adage “misery loves company” requires that all club members, languishing in grave sin, pledge an oath to look the other way at each other’s proclivities, no matter how heinous or disordered. To look down on a club memember for their sin is to invite that same scrutiny upon oneself, which is anathema to all in mortal sin.

    Catholics with a properly formed conscience are responsible for telling these people the Truth: Instruct the ignorant & admonish the sinner. Anything less is cowardice and shaking off the yoke of Christ.

  • Tom Piatak

    An outstanding piece, with a clear and logical analysis of this imporant issue.

  • I am not Spartacus

    Things are looking pretty good for Dr. George Tiller, and he goes to his local house of worship…(Lutheran)

    And then there was Dennis L. Rader, AKA The BTK Serial KIller who was an elder of the Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas.

    Great piece Mr. Z.

  • I am not Spartacus

    “Could we please refrain from calling Gandhi an “ass”? ”

    I hope not. I used to be friends with a N.D. Grad whom I scandalised by calling Gandhi an ass. Gandi’s record ain’t all that it is cracked-up to be by those in the West who, while they slobber all over Gandhi, reference Catholic Saints about as often as The USCCB punishes perfidious priests like Fr. Jenkins.

  • Jacques

    I found brilliant the article of John Zmirak.
    But I believe that his demonstration is overtaken by the size of the mass murder that we are facing currently.
    Even the WWII, the nazi crimes, the communist crimes cannot outnumber those we peacefully and without any concern are witnessing in our clean hospitals and clinics.
    We were able to mobilise hundreds of divisions to fight the Japs and the Nazis for 4 years to bring back the democracy in their countries.
    Now the fascist monster is close to our sweet homes and we don’t even notice it.

  • Catherine

    Father Euteneuer’s, Human Life International website has recorded 8519 acts of violence and illegal activities, including 1251 homicides and other killings by pro-abort’s. That informations will never be compiled or reported by our media.

  • Okie

    This is the most clear, level headed, and dead on explaination I have ever heard on this blog. Please, please write more on these issues. You are so much more focused, Catholic, traditional, and downright CORRECT on these matters. Thank you a thousand times for writing, the Good Lord knows we need more writers like you!

  • InkStained

    “I’m not a theologian by any stretch, but I can’t believe our God would want babies to be killed, in the womb or otherwise.”

    Can you believe that God would want his Son to be killed? Can you believe that God would want cancer wards to house four-year-olds with bleeding gums?

    He doesn’t seem to be very impressed by earthly notions of success. Or earthly notions of anything.

  • Gilles

    Tactically, the murder of Dr George Tiller is bad, because it will entails lasting “demonization” of the Pro-Life mvt by the (95 % Pro-choice convinced) media, as shown in the article.
    But, although the paper of John Zmirak is very brilliant, it does not convince me fundamentally, especially his idea of a “declaring war on the State” : it is declaring war against a (bad) law of the (presumably good) State, which is quite different…

    Now let’s come to my point (a question adressed to any reader and especially to John Z.) : let us suppose you meet a serial killer (not a potential one but a true and self-proclaimed one), and you happen to have a gun in your pocket, what would you do : let him go (“after all, this is none of my business”) ou lay him cold (knowing of course you will be prosecuted, which is normal after all).
    I personally wonder what I would do in such a case…
    Close my eyes but save my security (probably) or put myself in trouble (with none reward) but save innocent lives.

    PS : of course this is not to justify the murder of Dr Tiller, but to present why I cannot condemn it too (and certainly not “feel sad about it” what many bishops are supposed to have said). Of course : how could I ever feel sad to hear about the death of a serial killer … ? !

  • Gilles

    Father Euteneuer’s, Human Life International website has recorded 8519 acts of violence and illegal activities, including 1251 homicides and other killings by pro-abort’s. That informations will never be compiled or reported by our media.

    Could you provide the link please ? Thks

  • TZiggy

    I don’t know what all the fuss is about. It would seem Mr. Tillers killer is pro-choice. He chose to Kill Mr. Tiller.

    If he were pro-life, Mr. Tiller would still be alive.

  • Okie

    …the hope in your serial killer scenario is either a) if you are brave, subdue him and turn him over to the proper authorities to be punished legitimately, or b) if you are not super-duper brave, you call the police and tell them the serial killer’s exact where abouts.

    The legitimate authority then aprehends them, puts them on trial, and if found guilty, has the capacity to execute them. If the killer was immediately threatening you, you could fight back, even lethally, in self-defense, or to defend those whom you are obliged to protect (your family, for instance). But Tiller wasn’t going after this guy with his forceps, and it is not currently possible to turn him over to a legitimate authority. Thus, what he did was lawless and wrong…

  • Gilles

    …the hope in your serial killer scenario is either a) if you are brave, subdue him and turn him over to the proper authorities to be punished legitimately, or b) if you are not super-duper brave, you call the police and tell them the serial killer’s exact where abouts.

    The legitimate authority then aprehends them, puts them on trial, and if found guilty, has the capacity to execute them. If the killer was immediately threatening you, you could fight back, even lethally, in self-defense, or to defend those whom you are obliged to protect (your family, for instance). But Tiller wasn’t going after this guy with his forceps, and it is not currently possible to turn him over to a legitimate authority. Thus, what he did was lawless and wrong…

    Okie, I did not want to be too long with this question. But you miss my point and push me to precise it more… So this is the scenario :
    I am a weak guy (but with a gun) ;
    I meet this man and know for sure that he is a serial killer ;
    we are very far from any police or stuff… so forget this kind of excuse (this is a “case”);
    and if I let him go, he will go for sure and continue his murders.

    Now, this may not sound realistic but after all, I just want to present a case (as in the Gospel, in order to test myconscience ; for instance the Good Samaritan, etc…)

    I simply invite the reader to use this case to examine his conscience : what would I do ?
    (of course no need to reply on the site ; if I (a pro-life man) write here that I would let him go, it is simply because my answer makes me feel very poor, and I try to forget that.

  • Anne

    Sorry you don’t like Ann Coulter, James.
    She speaks her mind and has courage.
    Jesus said people would be hated for telling the truth.
    This is glaringly true today.

    Here’s a link to Ann’s eloquent article-

    http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=32140

  • Put down your sword

    I find this issue a very difficult one It seems to me that Jesus did not tell Simon Peter to refrain from violence for nothing.
    Jesus’ message was one of love and every time we turn to violence as a solution we have become part of the problem. There is a vast difference between defending people and actively seeking them out for assassination or execution.
    Poor Scott Roeder descended to the same level as Dr Tiller. He used violence as a solution and in doing so set the cause of pro life back just as the tide in public understanding of the lie of pro choice was beginning to turn.
    How do you stop the Hitler’s of this world from gaining and retaining power you do what prolife is doing constantly challenge the lies via prayer, pennance, fasting and dissemination of the truth about the real nature of pro “choice”.
    Who ended the march of Nazism? Every courageous soul who smuggled out information about what was really happening and every poor soul who fought to defend not to destroy.God knows the heart.Every soldier who fought reluctantly but in order to save lives is different from the person who coldbloodedly plans violent acts through sheer anger or frustration although even then if a person’s judgment has become impaired through mental imbalance there is room for God’s mercy.

  • Michael

    Excellent post, and says better than I could say some of the thoughts that have occurred to me. One thing I would add: The Son of Man came to save, not to condemn the world. Our business is not just to address the moral law, but to preach the Gospel. The saving power of Jesus can forgive and heal even the worst, and we need to preach that to all, including those involved in this horrid crime.

    Pax.

  • Joe H

    For the first time, ever, I agree with Ann Coulter.

    ::shudders::

  • JC

    If Cardinal O’Connor can say that abortion is a sin against the Holy Spirit and the First Commandment by striking at the principle of Life itself, can’t we also say that a politically motivated killing by a self-proclaimed anarchist constitutes war against the state?

    Not much of a stretch there.

  • Analyst

    Scott Roeder, the Right-Wing Authoritarian (RWA) follower who assassinated Dr. Tiller, is a poster-child for what happens when the psychological drivers within RWA followers reach a critical mass state: intense internalized FEAR (looks like HATE, but it

  • Lynn

    If someone were killing an innocent baby on the open street (muder) & not behind closed doors (choice) wouldn’t that necessitate a moral & just reaction by a passerby? Whether the murder is protected by Federal Law or not??

    The abortion procedure makes these babies suffer before their deaths by brutal dismembering or chemical burn or you fill in the blank. We must not stop calling evil–evil. The exposing of evil is essential; even if we can not stop the murder. Shedding light upon these murderers, in some mysterious way, becomes a redemptive act for souls before God…the child’s, ours & the accused–if they perhaps will make a change of heart.
    This is our ACTION in a tyrannical nation: speaking out; breaking the silence. Freedom of speech is precisely what we still have left.

  • Joe H

    Where can I sign up to become a “Double High”?

  • Dave

    A scathing analysis of a politically blinded self-righteous zealot, provided by… a politically blinded self-righteous zealot.

  • I am not Spartacus

    Scott Roeder, the Right-Wing Authoritarian (RWA) follower who assassinated Dr. Tiller..

    Obama talks the Common Ground talk but walks the Killing Fields walk.

    Roeder was alive and Tiller was legally killing when Dubya was President but Roeder wasn’t driven to kill Tiller because Dubya, most concede, was pro-life and actually implementing some pro-life actions. He kept alive the hope that additional pro-life legislation was possible.

    But once The One was elected it was crystal clear that all hope of even curtailing legalised innocent killing was aborted and Roeder felt that no alternative was available.

    Obama (and all others who support abortion, and who voted for him) are to blame for creating a closed-loop political system in which there is no hope that any legislation will be passed that will reduce any abortions. In fact, just the opposite is happening. The few restrictions on abortions are being killed-off by Obama.

    When left wing totalitarians create a closed-loop political system where the voice and aspirations and dreams of the people are destroyed why would they expect anything other than violence as a reaction to their politics?

    It is the left that breeds violence. It sows the seeds of desperation and reaps a crop of killers.

    It is irrational to expect a post-Christian society to produce committed Christians who will not try and defend the innocent by taking up arms against a state-sanctioned killers like Tiller.

  • Charles Curtis

    Brilliant piece. You nail it as usual, Dr. Zmirak.

    I think the analogy with the violence of the pre- Christrian Roman Empire is perfect. That Empire was based on slavery and conquest, and drenched in the blood of millions. They practiced infanticide, and countless other obscenities. All sanctioned by the human law of Rome.

    But as you say, the early Church did not react with violence. No. Our Fathers and Mothers, our Brothers and Sisters of yore, faced it all with faith and love. They prayed, and they performed acts of mercy. They accepted martyrdom for the sake of their love. They loved those who were evil.

    And then, they converted them all. In Three Centuries, my friends.

    That’s all it took. Mercy triumphed. As He always has and forever will, in saecula saeculorum. From the most grotesque act of violence, came the Greatest Mercy. Think of that.

    How great a miracle.

    We take it all for granted, today. That’s why someone like Rebbecca, here, thinks like she does. Because we are used to our state usually acting according to principles rooted in the Christian conscience. That what Dr. Tiller did is legal creates a certain dissonance.

    But as Dr. Zmirak says, until we have a reasonable chance of success, in both the political and spiritual sense (because in the end the two cannot be separated) we cannot react in violence. It would self- defeating, unwise.

    In fact, maybe we should never react with violence; rather prayer and mercy. The Spirit triumphs over the Flesh. Even the devotees of moloch may in the end be converted..

    You know, Stranger Miracles have occurred.

    Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pray for Us.

  • Bruce Roeder (no relation)

    Very good article.

    As I understand it, the ancient Romans had (at least) two words for different kinds of war; “bella” for the clash of state-sponsored combatant armies (from which we get the word “bellicose”), and “guerra” for the clash of armed civilians against a combatant army (from which we get eth word “guerrilla”).

    I could be wrong, but Just War applies to combatant war (bella) not civil insurgency (guerra).

    What Roeder did was not war, it was a criminal act, wrongly motivated by political and religious ideas.

  • Analyst

    Where can I sign up to become a “Double High”?

    Right here:

    Double Highs are

  • I am not Spartacus

    There is only one Category for religious conservatives and Dr Bob is it’s Prophet.

    You keep trying to spread the good news about religious conservatives but you don’t seem to be making many converts.

    I wish you continued success.

  • LCB

    You referenced the wrong section of the CCC for your post. There is a section that deals specifically with armed rebellion.

    CCC 2243 reads: Armed resistance to oppression by political authority is not legitimate, unless all the following conditions are met: 1) there is certain, grave, and prolonged violation of fundamental rights; 2) all other means of redress have been exhausted; 3) such resistance will not provoke worse disorders; 4) there is well-founded hope of success; and 5) it is impossible reasonably to foresee any better solution.

    The presumption exists in favor of the negative, that is, against armed resistance.

  • Anthony Mascia

    I guess I must be stupid, stupid, stupid. When someone who turns out to be a longtime schizophrenic kills a serial murderer who would continue on his killing career, I become confused with the

  • John2

    Hey,

  • John Zmirak

    “Research on Right-Wing Authoritarianism increased immediately following WWII and has continued to the present day.”

    Yes, and it was conducted by Frankfurt-School Communists, using a methodology specifically invented to tar conservatives, Christians, and patriots as incipient mass-murderers, and exculpate the thousands of Communist spies, traitors, and sympathizers who honeycombed our institutions. There is NO psychological validity to the theory of the “Authoritarian Personality.” It belongs on the trash heap of ideological hate speech, along with “Judaeo-Bolshevism” and “Islamo-Fascism.”

    Yes, there are crazy people in churches. No one crazy person I know of, in any church, has ever been personally responsible for as many deaths as George Tiller. As he might say from the grave, quoting the American standard song, “They can’t take that away from me….”

  • John2

    Ditto on ‘no psychological validity’. One wonders how much ‘Analyst’ knows about psychology or research methodologies. He has read a book (maybe not), but that may be the end of his explorations.

    Then he wrote us some satire.

    Anyway, Tiller is gone. I forced myself to pray two rosaries for him.

    God creates some good out of every evil.

  • John2

    Ditto on ‘no psychological validity’. One wonders how much ‘Analyst’ knows about psychology or research methodologies. He has read a book (maybe not), but that may be the end of his explorations.

    Then he wrote us some satire.

    Anyway, Tiller is gone. I forced myself to pray two rosaries for him.

    God creates some good out of every evil.

  • Analyst

    “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on.” — George W. Bush, Gridiron Club Dinner, March 2001

    No psychological validity? Only for some of the people.

  • A Half-Jap Myself
  • A Half-Jap Myself
  • CS

    Where can I find these samizdat videos on YouTube? Could links be added to the article or something? I’ve got friends asking to see them. In fact, someone doing a history of some of this stuff might be usefu.

  • John Zmirak

    I saw these videos on tape in 1992, borrowed from pro-Rescue groups. Harrowing…. If anyone out there can dig them up, I urge you PLEASE to upload them to YouTube. They should have been on TV as much as the Rodney King video.

  • Roger Anthony

    What kind of a “Church” could have Tiller as a member? Amazing.

    Telling it like it is, A church that is not, that’s what kind. Luther told his followers they should go out and “sin well” because their salvation is assured by faith alone without works. If you want to call that a church, then call it Satan’s church, not a church in the legitimate sense.

  • John2

    No psychological validity, just comedy.

    You brought it back up, so here’s the book. Cut and paste your way to —

    http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

    The author admits the book has not been professionally edited. Curiously, he admits this in the preface to his “Sex and Youth: A 24-year investigation” ($20 + shipping, Lulu Press).

    This preface also informs that “I always thanked my students for revealing everything I wanted to know about their sex lives,…”

    Enjoy the ‘Right Wing Authoritarian’ insights. Now don’t you go off track and read that other book, don’t you dare…

    This author is a piece of work.

  • wellnow

    1. I’m not surprised that Dr. Tiller was an usher in a Lutheran church. It is not unusual for people who are performing evil acts to cloak themselves with the appearance of good. As far as I know, the Lutheran church has not stated that abortion is wrong . Most people, if asked, probably have generally positive feelings about Lutherans. It was really a perfect place for Dr. Tiller to attend services. He could enjoy the good will of the community and not have to face the possibility of hearing from his clergy person that what he was doing was wrong.

    2. Isn’t greed one of the 7 deadly sins? Dr. Tiller made millions off of his practice. His family benefited greatly financially from his deeds. It is much more difficult to be a family practice doctor who deals with many different types of problems than it is to kill babies with a well-defined and easily repeatable procedure.

  • Catherine

    Reference for Human Life International statistics.

    http://www.hli.org

    under ‘HLI Websites’, sixth item “Pro-Choice Violence”

  • Gilles

    Reference for Human Life International statistics.

    http://www.hli.org

    under ‘HLI Websites’, sixth item “Pro-Choice Violence”

    THANKS, Cathy !
    Gilles

  • Hess Family

    Moving down the page, I pulled my entire right side of my ribcage loose on:

  • G.S.

    Analyst:

    Re-read Zmirak’s response.

    He, and I — and I daresay one or two of the other posters on here — are almost certainly more familiar with the origins of your snotty gibberish than you are.

    The primary function of the words you use are not to convey information, but rather to reinforce your own sense of superiority over those lowly people who “cling to Bibles and guns”.

    Naturally such primitive savages desperately need to be taken in hand and led by enlightened progressive elites….

    ….much in the same way that Africans needed to be taken by the hand and led by enlightened, progressive elite Europeans during the colonial era.

    “Authoritarian”… wow, that’s hilarious.

    Noooo, we’ve never seen any authoritarianism from the Left, now have we?

    Noooo…

MENU