Scott Roeder: Portrait of a zealot

Anti-abortion and anti-government, Scott Roeder appears to be a bomb with a short fuse. The Wichita Eagle has the best profile up so far:

The suspect in custody in connection with the slaying of abortion doctor George Tiller was a member of an anti-government group in the 1990s and a staunch opponent of abortion.

Johnson County sheriff’s officials said Scott P. Roeder, 51, of Merriam, was arrested on I-35 near Gardner about three hours after the shooting.

In the rear window of the 1993 blue Ford Taurus that he was driving was a red rose, a symbol often used by abortion opponents.


Those who know Roeder said he believed that killing abortion doctors was an act of justifiable homicide.

“I know that he believed in justifiable homicide,” said Regina Dinwiddie, a Kansas City abortion opponent who made headlines in 1995 when she was ordered by a federal judge to stop using a bullhorn within 500 feet of any abortion clinic. “I know he very strongly believed that abortion was murder and that you ought to defend the little ones, both born and unborn.”

Further on…

Suzanne James, former director of victim’s services for Shawnee County, said she remembered Roeder.

“He was part of the One Supreme Court, a Freemen group based out of Shawnee County,” James said. “He was fanatic about a lot of things. I went to one of his court appearances and thought, ‘This guy is dangerous.’ There were a lot of red flags that came up about him.”


In recent years, someone using the name Scott Roeder has posted anti-Tiller comments on various Internet sites. One post, dated Sept. 3, 2007, and placed on a site called, said that Tiller needed to be “stopped.”

“It seems as though what is happening in Kansas could be compared to the ‘lawlessness’ which is spoken of in the Bible,” it said. “Tiller is the concentration camp ‘Mengele’ of our day and needs to be stopped before he and those who protect him bring judgment upon our nation.”

Sounds like a lot of people. And maybe that’s the problem.

Mark Silk digs up info about Prayer and Action News, the publication Roeder subscribed to, and which once published a guide making the case for killing abortion providers.

Comments read comments(19)
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Steven Ertelt

posted June 1, 2009 at 12:16 pm

What these profiles of Roeder prove is that he has no connection whatsoever to the pro-life movement. He ran primarily in these anti-government extremist circles where there are so few people they all know each other. No one who is involved day-to-day in the pro-life community has ever heard of these people. Until today, after nearly 20 years of pro-life service nationally and in several states, Scott Roeder’s name has never come to my attention. And other than a blog post in a public forum on a pro-life group’s web page, Roeder has never been a staff member, volunteer, or affiliated in any way with any of the thousands of pro-life groups in the nation representing the majority of Americans who are pro-life.
This is the action of a lone, isolated vigilante shooter who may be anti-abortion but could never be described as pro-life.

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posted June 1, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Do you believe there is a difference between prolife and anti-abortion? How so?

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posted June 1, 2009 at 12:51 pm

The bishop of Kansas said recently: “We are at war!”. Apparently he meant it–literally.

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Thoughful Yankee

posted June 1, 2009 at 12:54 pm

I was sure when I heard of Doctor Tiller’s assassination that the “pro-life” movement would disavow Roeder, much as the PLO disavows suicide bombers who blow up Israeli kindergartens. If one takes both Palestinians and “pro-lifers” at their word, the most generous we can be is to say, “They fail to see how their words give both inspiration and cover to those who would murder in God’s name.”
I, for one, am sick and tired of the “right to life” community demonizing those who defend and support a woman’s right to choose as “pro-abortion,” and assume that they understand God’s position on this issue. Their protestations of dissociation when someone like Roeder kills a surgeon providing abortions ring very hollow. When you demonize people, as the Nazis did Jews in pre-war Germany, you lay the ground for murder.
Who killed Dr. Tiller? Every one of you who stood with a placard outside an abortion clinic. Every one of you who told your children that abortion is murder. Every one of you who made a remark on the moral values of someone with whom you might have disagreed. Certainly, every one of you who believes a woman should be forced to carry to term following rape or incest.
Like Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney, on issues like abstinence and homosexuality, the failure of their positions to hold sway in their own families should give pause to those so self-assured in their evangelical beliefs. But it doesn’t. The question, “What would a Jew like Jesus say?” never enters their minds. The failure of their beliefs to hold even within their own families doesn’t daunt them.
They – not Roeder – really pulled the trigger in that Wichita church.

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Your Name

posted June 1, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Perhaps Roeder has no formal connection to what is considered to be the “mainstream” of the anti-abortion movement, but to suggest that “he has no connection whatsoever” is disingenuous.
He may be on the fringe, but as is so often the case with the modern right-wing, the small but extremely vocal minority that he represents exerts an influence on the direction of the movement that is vastly out of proportion to its numbers. The so-called “moderates” of the anti-abortion movement tolerate, and, by their silence, endorse the rhetoric and attitude of the Roeder’s of the world because in some respects, it serves to galvanize the base, and, also allows armchair terrorists to indulge in their own violent fantasies without having to actually perform the deed or take responsibility for their own actions.
Of course, when something like this happens, the carefully rehearsed pained and pious expressions of incredulity and shock are trotted out by the anti-choice movement in an attempt to distance themselves from the very thing that they have helped to create.

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Wingnuttia-Free Zone

posted June 1, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Scott Roeder, the Right-Wing Authoritarian (RWA) follower who murdered Dr. Tiller is an example of what happens when the hallmarks of RWA followers reach a critical mass state: intense internalized FEAR combines with a very high degree of SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS to produce EXTREME AGGRESSION against whomever and whatever threatens the follower’s leader or ideology (ironically, “pro-life”). Roeder’s psychological disorder is defined by the following: illogical thinking, a highly compartmentalized mind, double standards, hypocrisy, blindness to himself, a profound ethnocentrism, and dogmatism.
I doubt that Roeder will turn out to be a Social Dominator or a Double High because people with those disorders rely on the RWA followers like Roeder to do the dirty work. The Social Dominators and Double Highs are the “pro-life” extremist leaders, including members of the clergy, hate radio commentators and right-wingnut TV pundits who keep the hateful anti-choice rhetoric ramped high. Gullible suckers like Roeder take the bait.
Dr. Bob Altemeyer spent 40 years researching what makes the Right-Wing Authoritarian follower, the Social Dominator leader, and the worst-case-scenario combination of both, the Double High danger to society, tick. Google “The Authoritarians” and you’ll find the PDF of Altemeyer’s free online reader-friendly 264-page summary of his research.
I have no association with Altemeyer or his research. I came upon it will I was trying to answer the question, “Why do so many people continue to support failed ideologies long after their leaders have been discredited and the ideologies have been proven to harm the followers?”

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posted June 1, 2009 at 2:38 pm

All four of the women and girls I personally know who got abortions are Christian and two are also Republicans. This is an interesting article:
I suggest those who feel strongest about preventing abortions stick to sermons within their own churches and that they also address those who get the women pregnant.

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Vincent Truman

posted June 1, 2009 at 3:13 pm

It is an unfortunate and sad – yet unavoidable – tenet of civilization that each point of view carries with it an extreme, fringe factor. This fringe factor could not exist without the mainstream perspective – in other words, you’d never see kids dressed up as Klingons at science fiction celebrations if ‘Star Trek’ wasn’t generally respected in the first place – so the mainstream of any belief must take a certain amount of ownership for what their fringes do.
For science fiction fans, yes, there is shame when we see kids dressed up as Klingons. I am confident that fans of the Beatles feel shame when they see a fellow fan decked out in a Beatle wig and brandishing a piece of bedsheet he/she bought off of ebay which Paul McCartney slept on. As a secularist, yes, I feel shame when my fellow atheists are snobby and sarcastic.
What do pro-lifers feel when their fringe elements produce murder? In most of the articles I’ve read on this sad story, I have not seen shame. I have seen blame, distancing, and all sorts of behaviour I would not wish to associate with religion. But no responsibility. That troubles me.

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John in NoVA

posted June 1, 2009 at 3:17 pm

It seems that this event is providing the anti anti-abortion zealots an opportunity to pontificate. As far as how anti-abortion proponents choose to exercise their expression, it is fascism to try to limit their speech. I find it extremely troubling that one will express the opinion that another’s freedom of speech should be shut down. George Tiller by all accounts has an assembly line going and certainly was quite prosperous from his abortion business. Most of what he did was legal and he made the choice to do so. As far as the idiot that shot him, he by definition is not pro-life, he is a murderer. Now Tiller is one of 8 abortion providers murdered and that is 8 too many, my opinion. The abortion count is 50 million and counting and that too is wrong, my opinion. As far as Christian, and who gets abortion and who gets them pregnant, in the field of facts and comments like, “I suggest those who feel strongest about preventing abortions stick to sermons within their own churches and that they also address those who get the women pregnant”, all of these comments are straw arguments.

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John in NoVA

posted June 1, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Vincent Truman, after reading your post I did a google search and with ease found condemnation from the pro-life movement regarding the murder of George Tiller. Perhaps you really have something else to say. Check it out. These are just two, there are more. As far as fringe elements producing murder, by definition these people are not pro-life. You write as if there is a mass killing of abortion providers. Facts are king.

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posted June 1, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Many good Nazis never killed a Jew. Never advocated that Jews be killed. Therefore, no good Nazi ever killed, or supported killing, Jews. Just because Hitler talked shit about Jews, he didn’t actually tell anyone to kill Jews, therefore Hitler was a good Nazi. Good Nazis don’t deserve to be blamed for the actions of a few bad people who claimed to be Nazis, because they were not Good Nazis.
Facts are king, eh?

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posted June 1, 2009 at 4:38 pm

elizabethinsf get real. Hitler advocated and ordered the killing Jews. Your argument is juvenile propaganda
that a minimally intelligent person could counter.

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John in NoVA

posted June 1, 2009 at 4:49 pm

elizabethinsf, straw argument. You sound like the Nazi, the ones exterminated so many, the eugenicists. Yes, facts are king and not straw arguments, not prevarication. Pro-life is a belief, not a political party and not an army. As far as good Nazi’s, I don’t know any Nazi’s, so I couldn’t tell you if there are any good ones, perhaps you can enlighten me.

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Someone tired of dealing with other's ignorance

posted June 1, 2009 at 7:41 pm

It is true, Hitler did advocate and order the killing of the Jews. This is common knowledge. There was never a written order sent from Hitler but often times Hitler would not write them down. Contained in the text “The Holocaust: Problems in European Civilization,” which is a number of excerpts from Holocaust texts, Walter Laquer says, “He (Hitler) was not in the habit of giving written orders on all occasions: there were no written orders for the murderous ‘purge’ of June 1934, for the killing of gypsies, the so called euthanasia action (T4) and on other such occasions. The more abominable the crime, the less likely that there would be a written ‘Fuhrer’ order.” I learned this in the Holocaust History class I am taking in college: a place a would recommend many of you look into going to. Facts are king and I recommend you look into them.

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Your Name

posted June 2, 2009 at 2:06 pm

John in NoVa: Thanks for your comment on my comment. As easy as you find condemnation for this cowardly act, I’m sure you could find either outright support or left-handed and equally cowardly support (e.g. Operation Rescue’s “this is a shame but the doctor got what he deserved” stance as given voice to by Randall Terry). Give it a try.
Facts *are* king, but if you only look at the ones that support your viewpoint or cause, like Scott Roeder obviously did, then there is cause to be concerned.
Best regards.

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Your Name

posted June 2, 2009 at 4:08 pm

There are too many people in this world to keep track of and the crazies will always find a way into mainstream society. That Doctor did not deserve to die – regardless of whether we agree with the medicine he practiced or not. God makes final judgements, not humans. Any good Christian knows that. I will continue to pray for those who don’t know what to do when they get pregnant and those that take issue with the decisions made. That is what I was commanded to do!

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Peter Nyikos

posted June 3, 2009 at 1:55 pm

“Your Name,” Randall Terry has not been a member of Operation Rescue for well over a decade, well over two if memory serves, and I’ve even been told he got kicked out of OR (despite having founded it) because he wouldn’t adhere to their strict code of nonviolence:
Operation Rescue has an impeccable record of peaceful pro-life activism. Since the mid-1980’s there have been well over 70,000 arrests for peaceful civil disobedience in the fine tradition of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. There has never been a conviction of a violent act by a pro-life supporter at any Operation Rescue event in the history of the organization. [end of excerpt]
The President of Operation Rescue, Troy Newman, has made a public statement denouncing the murder and disavowing any connection with Scott Roeder, the prime suspect in the murder:
In all the blogs I have looked at since the murder of Tiller, the people condoning it are outnumbered by the people condemning it. Freedom of speech and the press, as interpreted by our federal courts, is too precious a thing to be tampered with.

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posted June 14, 2009 at 7:46 pm

May YWVH bless Scott Roeder.

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Your Name

posted March 1, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Scott Roeder deserved exactly what he dished out – death. Likewise for Terry Randall. I can’t think of a case where a Pro-Choice advocate ever bombed a maternity ward (but they should). China got it right – manditory abortion after “one” live birth per couple.

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