Special Reports

Two Wichita churches get letters from Va. minister about Tiller

A Virginia anti-abortion activist has sent a scathing letter to the church of slain Wichita abortion provider George Tiller, telling pastors they "brought damnation onto yourselves" for failing to rebuke the "babykilling."

The Rev. Donald Spitz, a longtime advocate of the belief that killing abortion doctors is an act of justifiable homicide, said he also mailed a letter to College Hill United Methodist Church, which offered its larger sanctuary to Tiller's family for his funeral.

Tiller was shot to death in the foyer of his church May 31 while serving as an usher. Scott Roeder of Kansas City awaits a Jan. 11 trial on a charge of first-degree murder.

Spitz, who is the head of Pro-Life Virginia, runs a Web site called the Army of God. He has praised Roeder's actions and calls him a "true American hero."

"If Reformation Lutheran Church had done its job and brought George Tiller to repentance, he would be alive and the babies he killed would be alive," Spitz said in a phone interview.

Abortion-rights advocates condemned the letters.

"Unbelievable," said Kathy Spillar, executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. "After they vilified Dr. Tiller, after they viciously attacked him in writing and in person and tortured him for years, it's beyond the pale."

In his letter to the pastors of Reformation Lutheran Church, Spitz wrote they "have failed in your responsibility towards the position He has placed you in and have brought damnation onto yourselves."

The Rev. Lowell Michelson, senior pastor at Reformation Lutheran Church, confirmed receiving the letter. He said he hadn't responded and didn't intend to.

"We have received several letters like that, and I was encouraged by our attorneys not to fuss with them," he said. "You can tell by reading the Scriptures that he quotes that he has a certain slant, and everything about it is militaristic. They're just fueling the fire."

Michelson acknowledged that church members weren't in agreement on the abortion issue.

"But churches gather for a variety of different reasons," he said. "The reason we gather together isn't because we all think the same, but because we are children of God. So we come from our different lives and different thoughts. For many folks, the only thing we have in common is faith in Jesus."

In his letter to the pastor of College Hill United Methodist Church, Spitz berated the Rev. John Martin for allowing Tiller's funeral to be held there.

"You have praised him as being a Christian, which is blasphemous," Spitz wrote.

Martin was unavailable for comment, but a woman who said she opens most of the mail at the church said she did not see a letter from Spitz.

Roeder told the Kansas City Star in an interview Thursday that Spitz had sent him copies of the letters. He said he was pleased Spitz mailed the letters to the churches.