Tiller killing: Suspect may have right-wing ties

Local TV reports are naming the 51-year-old suspect as Scott Roeder, and other reports indicate he may have been a member of the anti-government Freemen group who was arrested in 1996 after authorities found what were apparently bomb-making materials in his car.

News reports at the time identified him as Scott Roeder, 38, of Silver Lake, Kan., which would make him 51 today, the same age as the suspect in the Tiller killing. Other reports are tying him to anti-abortion groups like Operation Rescue whose site, including its “Tiller Watch,” is down), but no confirmation on that, and the links appear thin; he may have posted comments on the site, e.g.


The Daily Kos folk are already pushing the TERRORIST meme. Others are citing the April Homeland Security Department report on concerns about right-wing extremism that made a brief mention of anti-abortion groups.

Andrew Sullivan has several good posts, with links to the kind of language that can lead to such killings, saying, “Christianist terrorism is no more defensible than Islamist terrorism.”


dotCommonweal also has a vigorous discussion on the power of words and what this could mean for the pro-life movement–and the responsibility of everyone who is pro-life to condemn it, not just the movement types.

The Wichita Eagle continues to be all over this story.

My Beliefnet colleague Rod Dreher condemns the killing but adds, ” I would hate to be George Tiller facing judgment with those grave sins to explain.”

He also has a statement from Robert George at National Review’s Corner saying “Whoever murdered George Tiller has done a gravely wicked thing,” and ending: “Let our ‘weapons’ in the fight to defend the lives of abortion’s tiny victims, be chaste weapons of the spirit.” 


It’s a race between the likes of George and the Daily Kos to see who defines this story first. Much will depend on who Scott Roeder turns out to be. But the anti-abortion folks are playing defense, and they’ve been down this road before.

This statment by Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry won’t help:

“George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller’s killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name; murder.”


Kathryn Jean Lopez, who passes it on, also doesn’t help the cause by comparing Terry to legit Muslim advocacy gorups. Huh?

What George Tiller did was evil and that should not be glossed over or sugarcoated. But here Randall Terry is doing exactly what CAIR does. When someone dies at the hands of a Muslim, CAIR rushes to warn the rest of us not to use it as an excuse to scapegoat Islam.

An evil thing has happened–a man has been killed–and to jump to points of politics and media criticism is wrong. Evil begot more of it here.

More to come…

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posted May 31, 2009 at 10:41 pm

I think the Lopez statement gains traction with the likes of statements from many on the right wing concerning how few condemnations came from Muslim quarters in the wake of the 9/11 attack. CAIR has long had a web page that outlines, in great detail, the dozens of statements condemning the attack from Muslim leaders around the world, both in the academic and the spiritual spheres. In spite of this, the meme from conservatives here in the US was always “where are the condemnations”, and then when pointed to the CAIR site, the meme changed to dismissing these as insufficient.
Lopez sees this and makes the comparison, and I think in some ways she is right. The response from many in the pro-life community is that “real” pro-lifers would not do this. This is exactly the same argument that CAIR made…”real” Muslims would not do this.
Yet the media here in the US failed to report the dozens of statements from Muslims about 9/11. In this instance the media is going out of its way to publish and report on every condemnation they can find, from national, state and county level pro-life groups.
Had this been an act committed by a Muslim, even one not connected to any known Muslim organization, the word “terrorist” would have been used to describe the perpetrator. Why isn’t the same word applicable in this instance when the suspect appears to be a white male, US native of conservative Christian beliefs?

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Reaganite in NYC

posted May 31, 2009 at 11:03 pm

Thanks for the reportage, David. If it turns out to be Scott Roeder, the guy sounds like a nutcase in the same category as President Obama’s terrorist pal William Ayers. Ayers was the son of a wealthy man and evaded punishment. He even got to influence a future President and helped with his rise to power.
Obama was right to condemn the killing in Kansas today. But he should also reflect on his actions as an Illinois state senator (in support of infanticide), his statements as a Presidential candidate, and his executive decisions as President … and ponder the impact of his own extreme and controversial views and policies on the coarsening nature and tone of the debate. It is divisive to have the most pro-abortion President at a time when the country is polling more and more in the pro-life direction.
The killing of an abortionist is indefensible. So is the work of late-term abortionists and those politicians who enable them (like Obama and former Kansas governor Sebelius, who received a lot of campaign cash from George Tiller and his associates). Let’s pray for all the victims involved, including the late-term abortionist murdered today and the young infants he killed in the past.
It’s always possible that George Tiller had of late come to accept responsibility for his actions and sought God’s forgiveness. It is something that I’m sure many pro-lifers prayed for on behalf of this man’s soul.

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tee jackson

posted May 31, 2009 at 11:43 pm

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posted June 1, 2009 at 12:18 am

My Beliefnet colleague Rod Dreher condemns the killing but adds, ” I would hate to be George Tiller facing judgment with those grave sins to explain.”
Doesn’t appear to be much in the way condemnation while passing judgment on Dr. Tiller’s alleged “grave sins.”
To be blunt – this is exactly why I do not and will not support ‘pro-life’ anything. There is no consistency between the meme rolled out constantly and the blatant disregard for ‘God’s creatures’ once they’re born and in need of help or other charitable services.
And BTW, it is terrorism – plain and simple – domestic terrorism.

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posted June 1, 2009 at 6:16 am

Any connection between Tiller’s murder and Pentecost?

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posted June 1, 2009 at 9:10 am

“And BTW, it is terrorism – plain and simple – domestic terrorism.”
And, as Reaganite is showing, it’s easy to enable terrorism when you support the motivation behind it.

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posted June 1, 2009 at 10:30 am

Chuck, you don’t even want to go there. Trust me.

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