I’m not what anyone would call a religious sort. I like the idea of a greater force at work in the universe, because it seems appropriate, and because dismissing the possibility of it strikes me a stunning act of arrogance. I don’t pretend to know very much about religion. So mark me down as ‘spiritual but not religious.’ Or maybe a member in good standing of the First Church of Hedged Bets. However you want to look at it, I don’t claim to be a pillar of faith or a religious scholar of any sort.

That said, like most people, I’ve managed to develop a couple of ideas in the course of my life about the likes and dislikes of whatever higher power is out there. For instance, when you walk into a church to kill a man in cold blood? I don’t think God likes that.

And when members of your church show up to heckle a vigil held for the victim of this brutal and senseless crime? I don’t get the sense that God would much approve of that, either. In fact, while we’re on the topic, if the word ‘hate’ features prominently in the domain name of your church website, I’m prepared to say that the big guy upstairs is docking you points.

The belabored point here being, I don’t know God, but I’m pretty sure people who commit murder (and depending on how charges pan out, maybe domestic terrorism, too) and those who condone it don’t know God either. And while I didn’t know George Tiller, I can tell you that the work he did could not have been easy, but that it saved lives. I can tell you that his work had gotten him shot at, bombed, sued, and caused his name to be dragged through the mud by lesser men, and that it eventually cost him his life. And I’m willing to take a bet that George Tiller, a man active in his church who lived with the courage of his convictions in the face of obstacles that would have caused others, including yours truly, to shrink from their sense of the duty in favor of the easy road, knew a little something about God. 

The guy who murdered George Tiller in his church, while his wife looked on from the choir, doesn’t know God. The hatemongers of the Westboro Baptist Church don’t know God. I don’t think you have to be able to quote chapter and verse to know that carrying out this sort of despicable violence in the name of God is not an act of faith but the gravest of sins.

Rest In Peace, Dr. Tiller. If there is a happy reward out there somewhere, here’s hoping you’ve found it, if all too soon.