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Anti-gay organization leader: Shooting of liberal church proves no hate crimes protections needed

by Nick Langewis

Less than 24 hours after a man targeted a liberal, gay-inclusive church and killed two of its congregants, one "pro-family" figure said that the case will prove that hate crimes protections are not needed because the media will help prosecute it.

58-year-old Jim D. Adkisson of Powell, Tennessee, entered the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church on Monday and fired shots from a sawed-off 12-gauge semiautomatic shotgun during a Monday children's performance of the musical "Annie," killing two and wounding seven. According to the Knoxville, Tennessee police chief Sterling Owen IV, a letter the out-of-work truck driver left in his car indicated frustration over a lack of employment opportunities, a reduction in his food stamp benefits and his "stated hatred of the liberal movement." Adkisson had 76 rounds with him and did not intend to leave the church alive.

"It proves our case" that hate crimes laws are not necessary, said Americans for Truth About Homosexuality president Peter LaBarbera. The media spotlight on Adkisson will "give more attention and better treatment to this case."

"The fact is, this case will get the attention it deserves," he continued, "and I believe this man could be given the death penalty, without any extra help from the Feds and any sort of hate crimes prosecution."

"Peter LaBarbera and his ilk are responsible for creating a climate where hate crimes can and do occur," Truth Wins Out founder and Executive Director Wayne Besen told PageOneQ. "LaBarbera is a despicable opportunist who barely waited for the police to lay down chalk and wrap tape around the crime scene before pushing his opposition to hate crimes legislation."

According to Knoxville Police Department Investigator Steve Still, who wrote the warrant to search Adkisson's home, Adkisson carried out his attack on the church "because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country." Democrats, he said, had "tied his country's hands in the war on terror and they had ruined every institution in America with the aid of major media outlets."

Since he couldn't get to the "leaders of the liberal movement," Adkisson would target those that voted them in office instead, Still wrote.

Books seized from Adkisson's home include Bill O'Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor, Michael Savage's Liberalism is a Mental Disorder and Sean Hannity's Let Freedom Ring.

The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations holds seven principles. They are, as displayed on the UUA website:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;

  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;

  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;

  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;

  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;

  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

"We uphold the free search for truth," the Church quotes Rev. Marta Flanagan. "We will not be bound by a statement of belief. We do not ask anyone to subscribe to a creed. We say ours is a non-creedal religion. Ours is a free faith."

Adkisson is being held on $1 million bail.


Originally published on Tuesday July 29, 2008.

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