Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), on Thursday accused the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) of enabling a shooting at its Washington DC headquarters.
Twenty-eight-year-old Floyd Lee Corkins of Herndon, Virginia allegedly walked into the group's lobby on Wednesday and shot a security guard in the arm before he was wrestled to the ground. The guard, identified as Leo Johnson, was taken to a nearby hospital and is in stable condition.
Corkins, a volunteer at a local gay community center, reportedly criticized the group's anti-gay views during the altercation. Officials said he was carrying 15 Chick-Fil-A sandwiches and a box of 50 bullets in his backpack.
Chick-Fil-A has become a cause celeb among conservatives who have rallied to CEO Dan Cathy's side after he was criticized for saying that gay marriage is "inviting God's judgment on our nation." The fast-food chain also donated to the FRC.
During an appearance in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Thursday, officials charged Corkins with illegally transporting a firearm and ammunition across state lines and assaulting Johnson.
"Corkins' parents informed the FBI special agents that Corkins has strong opinions with respect to those he believes do not treat homosexuals in a fair manner," an affidavit filed with the court states.
Perkins told reporters outside the group's headquarters that the SPLC, which in 2010 labeled the Christian conservative organization a "hate group," should be held partially accountable for the shooting.
"Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) that have been reckless in labeling organizations hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy," said Perkins. "I believe the Southern Poverty Law Center should be held accountable for their reckless use of terminology."
Mark Potok, senior fellow of the SPLC, called Perkins' assertions "outrageous."
"The SPLC has listed the FRC as a hate group since 2010 because it has knowingly spread false and denigrating propaganda about LGBT people – not, as some claim, because it opposes same-sex marriage," Potok wrote at the group's website. "The FRC and its allies on the religious right are saying, in effect, that offering legitimate and fact-based criticism in a democratic society is tantamount to suggesting that the objects of criticism should be the targets of criminal violence."
"Perkins and his allies, seeing an opportunity to score points, are using the attack on their offices to pose a false equivalency between the SPLC's criticisms of the FRC and the FRC's criticisms of LGBT people. The FRC routinely pushes out demonizing claims that gay people are child molesters and worse – claims that are provably false. It should stop the demonization and affirm the dignity of all people."
Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine