After spewing dangerous rhetoric about gays for years, FRC president Tony Perkins tries to blame liberals for shooting at hate group’s offices
The Family Research Council’s staff truly were victims when a gunman, Floyd Corkins, entered their headquarters and shot a security guard before being wrestled to the ground last week. Even hate groups have the right to be free of hate crimes. Those who work at such organizations should never have to fear for their safety. And, their families should be able to leave them each morning without having to worry about their well-being.
Nonetheless, it was the zenith of chutzpah, if not a tad unseemly, for FRC President Tony Perkins to hold a press conference the next day to portray his organization as victims of a liberal smear campaign: “Let me be clear that Floyd Corkins was responsible for firing the shot yesterday,” said president Perkins. “But Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy.”
Who is Perkins kidding? Given his history of overheated rhetoric, one could conclude that Perkins has given out more licenses than the DMV. This is a man, after all, who started his political career by purchasing ex-KKK Grand Wizard David Duke’s mailing list.
Most worrisome about Perkins’ reckless rhetoric is that he has repeatedly made the phony case that liberals and the gay and lesbian community are trying to take away the rights of Christian fundamentalists. If one examines FRC’s direct mail campaigns, it appears as if Perkins is deliberately trying to incite his followers.
For example, in an April 10, 2012, fundraising appeal, Perkins ends his rant against marriage equality by offering a specious “religious liberty” argument: “We can’t afford to lose. This is not just about marriage. This is about losing the freedom to raise our children in the faith — because the Left wants to drive our faith into hiding, in a dark and forgotten corner of our culture.”
In May 2012, Perkins sent his followers an alarmist letter: “Are we close to actual tyranny in America? … Are we closer to losing our basic freedoms than any time since the American Revolution?”
On May 8, 2012, here is what Perkins said regarding the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell”: “Today, the stakes are obvious, and they are serious. We face the specter of a military turned against our Christian faith and the consequences will be grim. … Please stand with us — and our Christian military men and women under growing religious oppression … With the imposition of new pro-homosexual policy by the radical Left upon the U.S. military, Chrisitan chaplains — and other military personnel — are now being censored, intimidated, and persecuted, both overtly and ‘under the radar.’”
If this bogus “sky is falling” routine wasn’t bad enough, Perkins describes his political opponents in apocalyptic terms. Here is an excerpt from a January 2012 newsletter: “Despite the forces of darkness mounted against us, I am confident we can reclaim our country from those who seek to destroy it.”
Perkins’ bromides against LGBT people are flat out dangerous. The Southern Poverty Law Center analyzed hate crime statistics:
The figures show that homosexuals are 2.4 times more likely to suffer a violent hate crime attack than Jews (8.3 divided by 3.5). In the same way, gays are 2.6 times more likely to be attacked than blacks; 4.4 times more likely than Muslims; 13.8 times more likely than Latinos; and 41.5 times more likely than whites, according to the FBI figures. The bottom line: Homosexuals are far more likely than any other minority group in the U.S. to be victimized by a violent hate crime.
One can’t be too surprised by the violence after looking at the way FRC describes the alleged threat of LGBT people: “…redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships will result in overall harm to children, religious freedom, and society in general,” Perkins wrote to his flock on May 18, 2012.
In FRC’s February 2012 newsletter, Perkins wrote: “The facts are undeniable. Cheating, promiscuity, mental and physical health problems, and other turmoil in same-sex relationships vastly exceed that of heterosexual relationships.”
The Family Research Council is a legitimate hate group with a nasty habit of lying to demonize its foes. It is laughable to watch Perkins now try to play the role of moderate Christian. The shrill nature of his rhetoric appears designed to make his followers paranoid and believe their freedom is in jeopardy. In other words, he paints a poisonous portrait of his flock as cornered animals. And we all know how dangerous such creatures can be.
Wayne Besen is founding executive director of Truth Wins Out, a Vermont-based nonprofit organization that fights anti-gay religious extremism. He can be reached at WBesen@TruthWinsOut.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 24, 2012.