Eric Rudolph's violence lies well outside mainstream ChristianityThe zealotry of religious fundamentalists is not unique to Islam. It's just as apparent among some Christians. If you put Middle Eastern garb on the Atlanta bomber Eric Rudolph and listened to his words justifying physical violence, you would have a close approximation of an Islamist terrorist.

Rudolph valued human life so much that he killed and maimed to make his point. Rudolph pled guilty last week to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing and three other attacks, including an abortion clinic and a gay night club.

Paul DeParrie of Portland says that violence against doctors who perform abortions is "morally justified." DeParrie's group is called Believers Against Child Killing.

The violent intimidation of abortion providers is one of the darkest chapters in recent American history. It has inflicted violence on physicians, and it has enabled a new dark age in the world's most advanced science and medical establishment. Universities are directed not to teach or carry out a procedure that has long been part of the medical curriculum. That willful ignorance is echoed by President Bush's slashing of scientific research budgets at the Pentagon and other federal agencies.

The Oregonian reported April 4 that DeParrie's group and two others are contesting Oregon Right to Life for dominance of anti-abortion politics in Salem. This could be viewed as an arcane, intraparty struggle that one typically finds among revolutionaries. However, the state Republican party leadership is aligned with anti-abortion sentiment, so this particular struggle has wider meaning.

Repeated statewide initiative votes have indicated the Oregon electorate is decidedly pro-choice. Thus, successive anti-abortion Republican statewide candidates have been defeated. The only successful statewide anti-abortion candidate in the past decade has been Sen. Gordon Smith, who carefully and significantly positioned himself as humane and not an extremist on that issue. Oregon Sen. Mark Hatfield was anti-abortion, but he never advertised abortion as part of his political persona. Hatfield wanted to be known as pro-peace.

Social conservatives are energized by the Bush presidency and congressional leadership that has beckoned extreme viewpoints such as the violent intimidation of the federal judiciary. The tacit enabling of violence against judges strikes at the heart of the American rule of law. Those "conservatives" who peddle that notion frighten the broad mass of Americans. In a similar vein, eco-terrorists do the cause of environmentalism no good.

The Republican establishment in Washington, D.C., will continue to energize the religious fundamentalist fringe by positioning the Senate debate of federal judicial nominations as a religious matter. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will participate with religious "conservatives" in a national telecast to tie judges to religion. Frist wants to be president, so he's willing to turn his back on the independent judiciary in order to get the nomination.

Eric Rudolph is scary. His record of violence lies well outside mainstream Christianity. The internecine warfare among abortion groups in Salem will further marginalize the state Republican party, and that is bad news for all Oregonians.


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