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Monday, July 28, 2008

Police chief: Gunman targeted UUs for 'liberal stance.'

The man who attacked the Tennessee Valley UU Church in Knoxville specifically targeted the Unitarian Universalists for their "liberal stance," according to the Knoxville police chief. WBIR reports:

-KPD Chief Owen says the shooter acted alone, and based on a leter [sic] found after the shooting, the suspect was troubled by joblessness, and wanted to strike a blow at a "liberal movement." -The FBI is investigating the shooting as a hate crime. . . -The shooter brought 76 rounds of ammunition with him into the church. -Owen: Shooter targeted Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church due to "recent publicity" the church had received regarding its "liberal stance" on things. -Owen says the actions of the church members who tackled the shooter likely saved many lives, as it appears the shooter intended to try to kill as many people as possible, and did not expect to leave the church alive.

Here's more from the Knoxville News Standard:

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."

Adkisson said he also was frustrated about not being able to obtain a job, Owen said.

The letter, recovered from Adkisson's black 2004 Ford Escape, which was parked in the church's parking lot at 2931 Kingston Pike, indicates he had been planning the shooting for about a week.

"He fully expected to be killed by the responding police," the police chief said.

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.

Copyright © 2008 by Philocrites | Posted 28 July 2008 at 11:00 AM

Previous: Second Knoxville victim dies; gunman left 'manifesto.'
Next: Gunman's ex-wife had been member of Knoxville church.




Transparent Eye:

July 28, 2008 12:04 PM | Permalink for this comment

I think we can assume that the perpetrator was not quite right in the head.

But even so, he did not pick his target at random but for a specific reason. I can think of numerous cases where Jews have been targeted, and the perpetrator is found to be disturbed. Groups that are demonized are more likely to be attacked by people with poor impulse control than groups that are protrayed positively.

Hate speech lays the groundwork for hate crimes. I'm not saying it should be regulated, but those who demonize liberals for ratings and book sales should reflect on the impact their words may have on people who may take their ideas one step further.


July 28, 2008 12:08 PM | Permalink for this comment

UU World has covered the Knoxville church's public advocacy on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people twice in the last two years: A rally by the church's teens promoting tolerance of same-sex couples' right to hold hands in public (8.4.06) and a drop-in center at the church for GLBT teens.

The congregation also has a distinctive place in the leadership of the UUA: Former UUA presidents Bob West (1969-1977) and John Buehrens (1973-1981) both began their ministries in Knoxville.


July 28, 2008 01:51 PM | Permalink for this comment

This is such a tragic and unwelcome reminder of the pain and brokenness in our sinful world. Our prayers go out to our brothers and sisters in Tennessee as they mourn in this time of loss. I pray that, though difficult, events like this will help unify the church in the hope of the Gospel.

I was thinking about this today and found that Christianity Today is offering a free resource called “Confronting Gun Violence.” I’ll include the link below for any of you who are interested. While we can never predict when an act of violence might occur, this download offers some precautionary measures churches can take to safeguard their people and facilities.

Again, my deepest sympathies go out to our friends in Knoxville and I pray that we can learn to prevent such tragedies in the days to come.


July 28, 2008 07:51 PM | Permalink for this comment

"those who demonize liberals for ratings and book sales should reflect on the impact their words may have on people who may take their ideas one step further"

That statement really is quite offensive and opportunistic at a time like this.

Transparent Eye:

July 29, 2008 02:08 PM | Permalink for this comment


My statement clearly has offended you. It is not opportunistic, however, as I'm not a liberal myself. I am appalled at the violent rhetoric, the political polarization in our country by which conservatives demean liberals and liberals demean conservatives. James Davidson Hunter has written a book on this topic called "Before the Shooting Begins." Let's hope the shooting remains infrequent.

Etiquette sometimes requires a breathing space for mourning before discussions of this nature take place. However, if we don't talk about this now, some other event in the news cycle will occur and the moment will be entirely lost.

I would like political rhetoricians to humanize rather than demonize their opponents, and for the public to turn away from those whose rhetoric dehumanizes. There are some on the left who use dehumanizing rhetoric, calling Republicans "Repugs" for instance. Both left and right should step back from these tactics.

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