Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, issued the following statement regarding the death of Dr. George Tiller, who was shot to death at his church on Sunday. Tiller had received national attention for performing late-term abortions at his clinic in Wichita, Kansas.
“If the perpetrator of this violence proves to be someone who was acting in the name of the pro-life movement, everyone in the pro-life community must swiftly and soundly repudiate him and his actions,” said Dr. Land.
“The murder of Dr. George Tiller is a human tragedy. Murdering someone is a grotesque and bizarre way to emphasize one’s commitment to the sanctity of human life. People who truly believe in the sanctity of human life believe in the sanctity of the lives of abortion providers as well as the unborn babies who are aborted.”
After a spate of violence against abortion providers in the early 1990s, Dr. Land convened a group of Southern Baptist ethicists and theologians who issued a statement in September 1994, which has become known as the Nashville Declaration of Conscience, that condemned the killing of abortion providers.
The declaration said, in part,
“The killing of abortion doctors by private citizens raises the important question of whether such an action is a morally legitimate Christian response to legalized abortion on demand. We strongly contend that killing abortion doctors is not a moral option for Christians.”
And in December 1994, for an issue of First Things, Dr. Land wrote:
“Pro-life Americans must take the moral high ground and vigorously oppose vigilante violence against abortion doctors or anyone else. We must tirelessly provide alternatives to abortion, engage the legal system, and affirm the overwhelming majority of physicians who refuse to perform abortions. So long as American democracy remains a legitimate form of government, with provisions for redress, reform, and nonviolent protest, we must remain ‘wise as serpents, harmless as doves.’”
This afternoon Land reiterated his horror at such actions, “Clearly, the killing of abortion providers is unbiblical, unchristian and un-American. Such callous disregard for human beings brutalizes everyone.
“For people to take the law into their hands in this fashion and to attempt to be judge, jury and executioner of a fellow human being is reprehensible and must be condemned by all civilized citizens.
“It is incumbent upon us to pray for Dr. Tiller’s family and all those who were forced to witness the terrible act of violence in a house of worship. The perpetrator of this violence should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”