Monday, July 28, 2008

Mass Shooting in Tennessee Unitarian Church

My thoughts go out to the people of Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. There was a horrible shooting there and 2 people have died. The shooter was tackled and captured. No motive established yet. I heard about this on the BBC news as well as on the Kos diary I link to. There's a news article here.

Update: It turns out the shooter was politically motivated, and also frustrated about unemployment. Here's

The shotgun-wielding suspect in Sunday’s mass shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church was motivated by a hatred of “the liberal movement,” and he planned to shoot until police shot him, Knoxville Police Chief Sterling P. Owen IV said this morning.

Jim D. Adkisson, 58, of Powell wrote a four-page letter in which he stated his “hatred of the liberal movement,” Owen said. “Liberals in general, as well as gays.”


Owen said Adkisson specifically targeted the church for its beliefs, rather than a particular member of the congregation.

“It appears that church had received some publicity regarding its liberal stance,” the chief said. The church has a “gays welcome” sign and regularly runs announcements in the News Sentinel about meetings of the Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays meetings at the church.

The church’s Web site states that it has worked for “desegregation, racial harmony, fair wages, women’s rights and gay rights” since the 1950s. Current ministries involve emergency aid for the needy, school tutoring and support for the homeless, as well as a cafe that provides a gathering place for gay and lesbian high-schoolers.

This is very disturbing to me, of course. It's going to make me worry about going to church. I suspect there's less resentment for liberal, gay-friendly religious institutions in the San Francisco Bay Area than in Knoxville, Tennessee. But that church had very good relations with the community and with other churches in the area.

I wonder if we're going to see more of this: it's becoming more and more clear that anti-gay sentiment is becoming less and less accepted in the public sphere. This might make people who hold these beliefs feel more besieged and threatened.

The same might be said for the strain of Republicanism that has been ascendant: I think Obama's popularity is going to bring a lot of heretofore hidden resentment up to the surface. While this is probably necessary, I hope there isn't too much violence. I hope there isn't any violence.

Update 2: another irony pointed out by this DailyKos commenter:
This guy's food stamps were reduced and he blames the "liberals?" People who are poor and unhealthy are helped when Democrats are in office and hurt terrible when Rethugs are in office (ok, Bill Clinton screwed up welfare, I know). But usually people like this guy vote against their own self-interest because Rovaian politics keeps them focused on them "gays" or them other "liberal" immoral people.
Among the grievances in the shooter's letter were that he couldn't get a job and that his food stamps were being reduced. So he decided to blame liberals. The level of political ignorance that exists in some places is pretty astounding. I thought we were moving beyond that What's the Matter with Kansas? stuff. But this incident has rocked me back on my heels a bit.


Blogger Volly said...

Yes, I'm in a smaller UU congregation less than 250 miles from there; many of us know that church and the people in it. We now have to have an emergency meeting this week to discuss possible security modifications. Sundays are always a joyous time at our church and it's galling to even have to imagine that there are people in our town who might wish to do us physical harm. But that's the world we're in right now. We don't even know yet if this incident has anything whatsoever to do with the rainbow sticker on our door, but we always have to assume.

3:33 PM, July 28, 2008  

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