Religious Violence and Abortion: The Gideon Project

Religious Violence and Abortion: The Gideon Project

Religious Violence and Abortion: The Gideon Project

Religious Violence and Abortion: The Gideon Project

Synopsis

On Christmas Day in 1984 three abortion clinics in Pensacola, Florida, were bombed by four young people who later went to trial and were convicted and sentenced. The authors explore this moral drama as a case study of religiously motivated political action. (The perpetrators identified with Gideon, the Old Testament slayer of those who sacrificed firstborn infants to Baal.) Their analysis sheds light on the violent wing of the anti-abortion movement. Placing anti-abortion violence in the context of social movement theory, the authors conclude that persons who are predisposed toward such behavior are likely to be working-class males under age 35, socially isolated from countervailing attitudes. Religious fundamentalists, they warn, will continue to utilize violence in reaction to such subjects as pornography, homosexuality, sex education, equality for females, and prayer in public schools. For this book the authors conducted interviews with local activists on both sides of the abortion issue. Theyattended the Pensacola trial and interviewed local religious fundamentalists, personnel of clinics throughout the United States that have been subjected to arson or bombing, and, when possible, persons who have been tried and convicted of those offenses.

Excerpt

By Lewis M. Killian

The bombing of three abortion clinics in Pensacola early on Christmas morning, 1984, called by the perpetrators "a birthday gift for Jesus," go to stop what they call "genocide." the two young men who planted the bombs and their female accomplices, characterized by their friends as "Christian young peole," were tried in federal district court. They were convicted of interference with interstate commerce, making and exploding unregistered devices, and conspiracy. the prosecutor characterized the bombings as terrorism, as do the authors of this book. As a confrontation between the law and a social movement, the trial was of a kind with the trial of John Brown, the Scopes trial, and the trial of the Chicago Seven.

Let there be no mistake: the Gideon Project was not an irrational, deviant act committed by fanatics or psychopaths. It was part of the tactics of the anti-abortion movement even though not all the members would go to such an extreme and only these four activists were charged and prosecuted. the story of the project raises serious ques tions concerning the responsibility, moral or legal, of the ideologists of . . .

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