UPDATE: Scott Roeder was just convicted of first-degree murder. According to theNew York Times:
It took jurors 37 minutes on Friday to convict Scott Roeder, an abortion opponent, of first-degree murder in the death of George R. Tiller, one of the few doctors in the country to perform late-term abortions.
Among the snippets of the Scott Roeder trial I caught yesterday on television, the most fascinating was the process by which he became a "Christian" -- the kind of Christian who would murder a doctor in the name of his God. Roeder is currently on trial for the killing of Dr. George Tiller, the gynecologist who performed late-term abortions in Wichita, Kansas.
Roeder said he had been exposed to Christianity as a child, but he never really took to it. Still, he thought abortion was wrong, though it wasn't a big cause for him. Then, one day in 1992, he was watching the Rev. Pat Robertson's television program, "The 700 Club," and fell to his knees at the end of the show, during Robertson's customary appeal to viewers who wish to "commit your life to Christ."
From then on, Roeder explained, his Christian views went "hand in hand" with his opposition to abortion.
The interesting thing in all this is not that Roeder converted to Christianity, but that he did so via a ministry whose definition of Christianity is the demonization of those who oppose the views of those who embrace one particular theological strain of Christianity. Of course, none of this has anything to do with the sayings of Jesus of Nazareth, as they are reported in the Christian bible.
Most recently, Robertson blamed the earthquake in Haiti on the Haitian people themselves, saying that they had made "a pact with the Devil" in order to overthrow their French slavemasters. The evolution of the deal-with-the-devil trope is the story of one revolutionary who offered a sacrifice to an African deity who is a mother goddess, and syncretized by Haitian slaves with the black Madonna of European Catholicism. The black Madonna is apparently Robertson's "Devil." (Because who else but the Devil would have allowed the triumph of African slaves over their European masters?)
This demonization theme has taken a nearly literal turn among followers of Randall Terry, the Operation Rescue founder who converted to Catholicism, and went on to found his latest group, Insurrecta Nex. Terry first targeted Tiller in 1991, the year before Roeder's conversion, with massive clinic-blocking protests. When Tiller was killed, Terry said the doctor had "reaped what he sowed," and called him "an evil man." Terry sent out an e-mail blast earlier this week, announcing that he and his band of activists were in Wichita for Roeder's trial.
At a training session for Insurrecta Nex activists I attended last year, speaker Missy Smith referred to the "nasty e-mails" and messages she received as a result of her protest with Terry on the eve of President Obama's speech at Notre Dame University as being the work of demons. And she described her group's actions at Notre Dame as "Ground Zero in the decisive battle between Satan and the Blessed Mother."
In Poland, the Blessed Mother is often depicted as the Black Madonna -- which just goes to show ya, that even among those on the same side, one man's Devil can be another's divine personage.
The power of demonization stems from the reduction of the demonized to something less than human while elevating him or her to a level of power conferred by the demon -- a power that must be vanquished. This is much easier to do with a clear conscience if the vanquished is not human, but a vestige of Satan himself.
In yesterday's testimony, Roeder said he felt no remorse for having killed Tiller.
Jesus didn't have much to say about the devil, though he did cast out demons from the afflicted. For this, he never needed a gun.
At RH Reality Check, Carolyn Marie Fugit has chilling details about Roeder's years of plotting Tiller's murder.