A hell of a lot has already been written about the murder of Dr. George Tiller. I can’t add much more than an agreement with anyone who’s identified this as an act of terrorism, and an additional voice of incredible sadness for this man’s family and anyone who was affected by his life and work.
I obviously don’t believe that the location of an act of violence like this one makes any kind of a moral difference in the end, but I can’t help but come back to the detail that this happened while he was on his way into church for Sunday service. I would presume that the murderers profess a kind of Christianity that considers Tiller’s faith an abomination, perhaps worse than had he declared himself an atheist, which I guess would make this church space no longer sacred in their eyes. The terrorism here is obviously against anyone who would consider providing this kind of very necessary medical service, but I think it’s also an act of violence against this kind of church. I can’t imagine ever being able to experience worship in a place where I’d witnessed something like that.
I’m not trying to discount the main point here or somehow give murderers more credit than they deserve, but there’s a hollow, hateful callousness to the whole scene that makes it hit me harder.
The other reason I think this part of the story strikes me is that Tiller was still attending church, and likely regularly, which is why people who would have researched his habits would know to find him there. And I honestly find that remarkable. It’s an incredible testament to his bravery and personal commitment that he continued to provide these services despite years of threats and attempts on his life. Continuing to go to church is something else – it’s a recognition that the God he believed in wasn’t manifested in those people and a faith in his role in God’s community. I’m not much for the construction of popular martyrs and I don’t know enough about the man’s personal faith story to project any of that onto him, but I can imagine that kind of a struggle, and I admire what he did with it.
I can say for damn sure that I would want to be in his church rather than in the church of the people who killed him. And once again, I’m pretty fucking sick of only one of those churches getting to set the terms of life in God’s plan.