Long Before the Tiller Assassination
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 09:44:34 PM EST
I had to dip back into 2008 for the story I want to tell about the asassination of Dr. George Tiller last summer, as my final post for 2009. The ideology and culture of rightwing violence often exists side-by-side with mainstream conservatism -- and there is hardly a better example than the story that surfaced during the 2008 presidential campaign, about how Shelly Shannon, the woman convicted of the 1993 attempted murder of Dr. Tiller was in effect, celebrated by the then-Vice-Chair of the Oregon GOP while John McCain stood by.

Raw Story reports that John McCain, against the advice of wiser heads, addressed a conference of the far right Oregon Citizens Alliance in the early 90s. He should have listened.

The speaker just prior to McCain publicly expressed sympathy for Shelly Shannon, who then stood accused (and was eventually convicted) of the attempted murder of Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas -- as well as carrying out a multi-state spree of clinic arsons across the West.

Shelly Shannon also considered herself a soldier in the underground terror organization, Army of God, which views Shannon as a "hero of the faith" and a "Warrior Soldier in the Army of God."  The group devotes a section of its web site to celebrating her exploits and her martyrdom. Raw Story's Nick Juliano writes:

Blogger Jed Lewison highlighted McCain's opposition to a 1994 law that made it a federal crime to bomb or blockade abortion clinics or to attack abortion doctors. McCain's vote against the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act put him in league with the Senate's most radical anti-abortion advocates, who split with more than two dozen anti-abortion senators who voted to crack down on clinic bombers as a matter of preserving law & order.

His [McCain's] speech was preceded by some kind words for an anti-abortion activist accused of shooting a doctor.

McCain quickly got a first-hand flavor for the OCA. Marylin Shannon, the vice chairwoman of the Oregon GOP, had a spot on the program to give an opening prayer. In short order, she praised the Grants Pass woman accused of shooting an abortion doctor in Wichita and thanked the Lord ``for Lon Mabon and the vision you put in his heart.''

Shannon, the GOP chairwoman, referred to the accused shooter of the abortion doctor as a "fine lady," who shouldn't be judged solely based on the single act of violence, according to a letter she wrote to The Oregonian, which was accessed via Lexis Nexis.

While she did not endorse violence against abortion providers, she wrote, she recognized the "debate stirring within the anti-abortion movement" over whether killing abortion providers was a "just cause."

My kind comments about Shelley Shannon, the Grants Pass woman accused of wounding abortion provider George Tiller, ("I'm not related to Shelley Shannon, but I think she's a fine lady,") reflected what I had learned about her from people who have known her for many years. They say she has led a responsible life as a wife, mother and concerned citizen and don't want her judged by this one action.

Acknowledging this side of her does not meant that I approve of others doing what she did. I do not. However, since that night I have learned much about the current debate stirring within the anti-abortion movement: Is killing abortion providers a "just cause"?

There's no indication that McCain took issue with Shannon's comments, and it's unclear whether any group members lobbied him regarding the abortion clinic protection bill. A search of the Congressional Record in 1993 and 1994 indicates McCain did not speak during debate over the bill, and McCain's campaign did not immediately return RAW STORY's request for comment.

The Army of God's web site features an account of Shelly Shannon's transformation into a domestic terrorist. Here is a short exerpt:

Shelley Shannon participated in her last blockade on November 17, 1992. Although she was a wife and the mother of teenagers, she committed herself to stop the killing of the innocent any way she could. The following year, she engaged in a holy war of arson and butyric acid (liquid) rescues across three states.

   "If I was going to spend what's left of my life in prison or die in an explosion, I was at least going to do so in the will of God!"  

  The transformation of Shelley Shannon began as early as the summer of 1991 when the late term abortion mill operated by George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas, was being exposed by Operation Rescue, and many other anti-abortionists. She was sick at heart over the extermination of the unborn.

   Shelley told a journalist at that time, she was convinced that the use of force was the way to save unborn children from being murdered. According to her sentencing report, Shannon had  "the will, but not the way"  until she read two books: When Bricks Bleed, I'll Cry by [convicted clinic bomber] Rev. Michael Bray of Maryland, and an early version of the "Army of God" manual.

The so called Army of God manual was passed around and added to over the years and desccribes how to wage a terror campaign against clinics. The first copy to fall into the hands of federal law enforcement was dug up in Shelly Shannon's back yard.

Some months later, abortionist  David Gunn was shot by Michael Griffin as he attempted to enter the building where he was scheduled to murder approximately 30 pre-born babies.

Shelley commented on Michael Griffin's action in her computer diary:


He didn't shoot Mother Teresa, he shot a mass murderer such as Saddam Hussien  or Hitler. I don't even think it is accurately termed 'murder.'
        God is the only one who knows whether Gunn would ever have repented or if he would have killed another 5,000 babies and probably 3 or 4 more women who probably weren't Christians either.

     Although Michael Griffin was condemned by many Christians, Shelley Shannon stood by him.  She wrote:


I'm not convinced that God didn't require it of Michael to do this.
    It is possible. I'm praying God will push more of us 'off the deep end...'


"He is definitely a Christian."

The Army of God has posted most of the Army of God manual on its web site. Here is how it opens:

This is a manual for those who have come to understand that the battle against abortion is a battle not against flesh and blood, but against the devil and all the evil he can muster among flesh and blood to fight at his side.

It is a How-To Manual of means to disrupt and ultimately destroy Satan's power to kill our children, God's Children.

Thus it is worth considering the disingenuous euphemisms of Marilyn Shannon (no relation to Shelly) who was not only public apologist for a notorious domestic terrorist, but served as vice chair of the Oregon GOP and as a McCain delegate to the Republican National Convention this year.

Resources:  I have written extensively about the AOG for Salon.com, (among other places) (notably Our Own Terror Cells, and in my book Eternal Hostility:  The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy.  See also my commentary from Women's eNews: Anti-Abortion Terrorism Threatens All Americans.

I had the opportunity to see Shelley Shannon in person at the trial here in Sacramento of her daughter who was accused of mailing a threatening letter to a doctor in Milwaukee.

Shelley was on the stand for three days and very clear in her dedication to her cause.

She expressed no regrets for any of her actions except for her bad aim.

The daughter was convicted and sentenced to 4 years in prison.

by JerrySloan on Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 03:02:26 PM EST

I wonder if anyone has done any serious research on the "Water of Bitterness"- where if a man is jealous, his wife is made to drink it (Numbers 5)?

IF it is, as I suspect, something that causes a miscarriage (an abortion), then all we have to ask is why they are opposed to something that is commanded in the Old Testament?

by ArchaeoBob on Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 11:27:20 PM EST

The same way that countless others have done; Read into the bible what you want for an outcome. It's not the words, it's the intent, though from what I can gather, the intent is in the mind of the beholder.

by trog69 on Fri Oct 10, 2008 at 04:22:04 AM EST
Please add more good information that would help others in such good way. how to start an ebay business

by roneybhatt on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 02:30:04 AM EST

and while I condemn their actions and words, I have a special enmity for those who foment this evil worldview on others.

I'm truly fearful of how so many can be led by so few to hatred and violence in the name of their special brand of religion.

by trog69 on Fri Oct 10, 2008 at 04:16:41 AM EST
"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you committ atrocities."

by Frank Frey on Sat Jan 02, 2010 at 10:38:25 AM EST

WWW Talk To Action

The Sour Grapes Of Wrath: Tenn. County Politician Seeks To Stave Off God's Vengeance
It has become a cliché to say that you spotted an article online that was so strange you first assumed it was from The......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
The Catholic Right Star and the Porn Star -- Revised and Updated
An international network of some of the world’s most vitriolic Religious Right activists and self-proclaimed orthodox religious leaders is holding its ninth global conference......
By Frederick Clarkson (6 comments)
Banned In Boston (And Elsewhere): The American Tragedy Of Censorship
When I was kid, the phrase "Banned in Boston" confused me. I thought of Boston as a liberal, cosmopolitan city. Surely they didn't censor......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Bill Donohue Mum While Andrew Napolitano Calls Pope Francis "A False Prophet"
Catholic League president Bill Donohue goes after anyone he believes is engaging in anti-Catholic behavior, real or imagined. But as we have come to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
A Decade Of Disgrace: Marking Ten Years Of The `Values Voter Summit'
The annual Values Voter Summit (VVS), the nation's largest gathering of the Religious Right, begins today. The event, sponsored by the Family Research Council......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Looking Beyond the Francis Frenzy
Much has been and will be written about the Pope regarding his historic visit to the U.S.  But it will be important to try......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Barton Bounces Back: Religious Right Purveyor Of Ersatz History Still Going Strong
Three years ago, Religious Right phony historian David Barton published a ridiculous book called The Jefferson Lies that argued, in part, that Thomas Jefferson......
By Rob Boston (4 comments)
The Papal Visit Brings Forth Ugliness From the Right
In a recent press release, Catholic League president Bill Donohue warned, "Pope Visits To U.S. Occasion Ugliness." Donohue then went on to describe the......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
Coercion In Kansas?: State Worker Claims She Was Fired For Non-Attendance At Christian Service
Let's say some people at a company want to get together during lunch hour and hold a Bible study. It's totally voluntary, and they......
By Rob Boston (4 comments)
Kim Davis and Southern Civil Disobedience
Kim Davis, the county official who refused to grant marriage licenses, fits the profile of a long line of civil disobedience from the South.......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
An Anti-Theocratic, Progressive Christian Leader
I recently posted a short excerpt here, from an interview I published with Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, the new General Minister and President of......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Litany Of Lies: FRC's Perkins Packs An Email With Copious Falsehoods
I realize that people may be tired of reading about the saga of Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Ky., clerk who is in jail......
By Rob Boston (6 comments)
Kim Davis is No Jack Kennedy
Kim Davis, the embattled Kentucky county clerk who sits in jail for defying a Federal Court order to issue marriage licenses to everyone who......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Book Report: Yes, Politicians, We Know You Love The Bible. What Else Have You Read?
Real estate magnate Donald Trump says lots of outrageous stuff, but none of it seems to slow him down. His latest gaffe, however, ought......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)
American Renewal Project
On my journey to the American Renewal Project in Austin, Texas, I listened to hard right talk radio out of Houston.  There was an......
By wilkyjr (7 comments)

Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (0 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (2 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (2 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (2 comments)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (3 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (4 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 comments)

More Diaries...

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.