Knoxville Shooter Targeted Church Over Hate for Liberals and Gays


Jim Adkisson (above, center), the gunman in Knoxville who killed two and injured seven at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church Sunday morning targeted the church because he hated liberals and gays, police said. The church was an active supporter of human and gay rights issues.

ChurchThe Knoxville Sentinel reports: “The shotgun-wielding suspect in Sunday’s mass shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church was motivated by a hatred of ‘the liberal movement,’ and he planned to shoot until police shot him, Knoxville Police Chief Sterling P. Owen IV said this morning. Jim D. Adkisson, 58, of Powell wrote a four-page letter in which he stated his ‘hatred of the liberal movement,’ Owen said. ‘Liberals in general, as well as gays.’ Adkisson said he also was frustrated about not being able to obtain a job, Owen said.The letter, recovered from Adkisson’s black 2004 Ford Escape, which was parked in the church’s parking lot at 2931 Kingston Pike, indicates he had been planning the shooting for about a week.”

Adkisson did not plan to leave the church alive, police said: “Officers recovered 76 shells for a 12-gauge, semiautomatic shotgun inside the church. Among those shells were three spent rounds. He had carried the shotgun inside the church in a guitar case, Owen said. ‘He certainly intended to take a lot of casualties,’ the chief said. Adkisson is accused of killing two people and injuring seven others. He is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Greg McKendry, 60. Also killed in the shooting was Linda Kraeger, 61, who was visiting the church from Westside Unitarian Universalist Church.”


  1. paul says

    Technically, isn’t he a terrorist? And aren’t all the people like Pat Robertson, who send out the anti-gay messages and encourage this type of person, terrorists as well? Shouldn’t the whole network now be investigated and broken up? I’m really not joking, btw.

  2. says

    RW, the Unitarians are some of the most progressive congregations out there… not fundie in the slightest.

    Just one more example of right-wing violence and hatred. We think we’ve got problems with terrorists from abroad? Maybe we should look in our own backyard for the source of most of the attacks on America.

    May he rot in solitary confinment, followed by eternity in hell. And may those who think like him take a moment to reflect on the terrible results of their myopic hatred.

  3. mb says

    This is hardly a case of a religious fundamentalist “turning on it’s own”. I lived in Knoxville for years, living only a mile away from that church. While I never attended it (or any other church), it was clear to me that this one was a beacon of tolerance and acceptance in the community, particularly the LGBT community. They NEVER hid the fact that their doors were wide open for people of all sexual orientations, which was a refreshing thing to see in the South. My thoughts go out to the congregation and the families of those lost.

  4. mb says

    This is hardly a case of a religious fundamentalist “turning on it’s own”. I lived in Knoxville for years, living only a mile away from that church. While I never attended it (or any other church), it was clear to me that this one was a beacon of tolerance and acceptance in the community, particularly the LGBT community. They NEVER hid the fact that their doors were wide open for people of all sexual orientations, which was a refreshing thing to see in the South. My thoughts go out to the congregation and the families of those lost.

  5. paulie says

    While the Pope continues to preach about the “intrinsic evil” of gays and how they’re destroying society, it gives logic and license for loons like this to take a gun to the enemies of his belief system. If only he had turned the gun on himself FIRST. Now THAT, I could get behind.

  6. Rad says

    It seems that every decade or so, some whack job pops up. Remember the black churches that were targeted a few years back.

    The sad part will be, as you folks described, the Christian fundies smirking about a job well done; shame it was not more.

    Once again, I say there truly was something positive about Communist Socialism. Keep your wing-nut religious beliefs in the closet!

  7. DaveB says

    Makes me glad to be a former American.

    So, when do you think the Jews first realized that maybe they should think about leaving Germany? This man’s actions were hardly isolated, he was just a foot soldier in the war carried out by people in the highest ranks of the Republican Party. A good portion of the American populace would like to see gay people erased from the face of the earth — and your tax dollars are most likely subsidizing them.

  8. says

    This breaks my heart. I live in San Francisco, but I’m from Knoxville. Although I didn’t attend TVUUC, I was there often for anti-war organizing meetings, the Spectrum Youth Cafe (safe space for queer youth), anti-death penalty events, etc. Rev. Chris Buice always came out to speak at our LGBT equality events. I heard about this yesterday, but I didn’t know about the anti-gay motives until just now. This breaks my heart, because they’re not just supportive, they were personal friends and allies to me.

  9. WindReader says

    as a Gay Unitarian Universalist myself, I can not agree with the ‘rot in hell’ comments. the Universalist part of our faith tradition reflects our belief in universal salvation. if the creative forces in the universe are fueled by love (we generally eschew talk of ‘God’) those loving forces would not ever condemn one of their creations to anyting that resembles hell. personally, I hope that he suffers appropriate consequences for the choice he made, learns to be a better person, and is reincarnated as a child adopted by a loving gay couple who dote on him and teach him to value diversity in all its forms.

  10. noah says

    The people this man murdered were killed because they were liberals. It did not matter to the killer that his victims were gay or straight. He believed that liberals because of their support of gays deserved to die. In his letter, he wrote that he blamed the “liberal agenda” for his not being able to secure employment.

    Stop. Think about that.

    For the last four decades the Republican Party has made the word “liberal” a dirty thing. The party has taught the masses that all of their problems are because of the “libruls.” It’s not just Dobson or Robertson, it’s Limbaugh, Coulter, the Wall Street Journal, Bush, Reagan, Bush, Rove, and the rest of the Republican cabal, which includes the parasitic gay Republicans, closeted or not who take advantage of the work of liberals to fight for their rights but sneer at them.

    Yesterday, John McCain came out in favor of banning Affirmative Action in his home state. Why? To appease the racist vote. It’s no coincidence that this type of ban usually is twinned by action to amend state constitutions to ban gay unions. It happened in Michigan just a few years ago. This is about getting out the vote to the cynics and rolling back the victories of Civil Rights.

    In the 1970s and 1980s, GOP made African-Americans the fall guys for job loss. Reagan lied his way through elections with fantasies of welfare queens and declared his support of “States Rights” (the words the Confederates used to justify their evil and treachery) in Philadelphia, MS where three young Civil Rights workers were lynched. Reagan knew the power of code words and how to get out the vote using hate.

    In the 1990s and now, they continued that meme and added Latino undocumented immigrants as those who should be feared. Throughout that period, and ramping up in the last 8 years, the GOP made GLBT the focus of their fear mongering: the gays will destroy the family!

    Hate, hate, hate. Fear, fear, fear.

    So, don’t just blame the fundies. This goes beyond them. Connect the dots and look at how much the GOP has used hatred against “minorities” and liberals to fuel their success at the polls.

    Someone made the comment about the Jews in Germany. I think that misses the point of how common in human history this kind of crap is. That human beings keep making this mistake, allowing it to happen, and turning a blind eye to it speaks badly for us as a species.

    So, to be blunt, I am sick of idiots sticking up for the GOP and telling us how it’s their right to vote Republican even if they are gay. Your support of the GOP confirms your direct or tacit support of the use of hatred to win elections. You have blood on your hands.

    This statement is not about voting Democratic. It’s against the GOP and all that the modern party stands for since the late 1960s when it took up the Southern Strategy and leaped eagerly at using divide and conquer strategies.

    Americans, for whatever, reason continue to pretend that the GOP is anything other than the moral equivalent of the mafia: Rule of Law? Who cares? Voter suppression? Who cares? Stolen elections? Who cares? Etc., etc., etc.

    I could also slap the hate ball at certain Democrats who used hate to score points at the polls but their iniquities, though despicable, cower in comparison to the horrific monstrosity of the GOP. Oh, what the hell: Bill Clinton for bragging about his anti-gay ways in 1994 and in 2004 for telling John Kerry to back an anti-gay marriage amendment. Geraldine Ferraro for her racist comments. Rev. Meeks for his homophobia. Blue Dog Democrats for not supporting ENDA. The Democratic leadership for their cowardly refusal to take a moral stand against 7 years of corrupt rule.

  11. noah says

    Most importantly, my deepest sympathies to the loved ones of and those who were killed or injured for being decent human beings.

    Sadly, I doubt the idiots who spout hate like Dobson, Hutcherson, Rove, Limbaugh, and others will learn anything from this. Ann Coulter was kind enough to refer to John Edwards as “faggy” recently. I’m sure she will be invited back to offer her opinions on MSNBC, Fox, or the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Got to love that liberal media!

  12. John in Manhattan says

    Oh NOAH, why oh why can’t there be more intelligent informed comments like yours on Towleroad? If you don’t currently have a blog, you should.

  13. Bill Perdue, RainbowRED says

    Hate murders always increase during elections, because christist bigots and those who pander to them fuel the flames of hate 24/7/365. Fox News does it. Dobson does it. Catholic bishops and Ratzinger Der Pope do it but so do Obama and McCain. Both continue to blurt out their bigoted opposition to same sex marriage, giving a green light to thugs, telling them that we’re second class citizens who don’t deserve the elementary right to be married.

    And to be fair, Obama and McCain aren’t the only politicians who do it. Some of the blame clearly lies with Congressional Democrats and Republicans who decided that our rights and lives were expendable. They gutted ENDA and tossed it and the hate crimes bill into the trash and refused to repeal DOMA and DADT.

    The Democrats controlled Congress for the last two years so most of the blame is theirs. The Republicans were delighted to go along for the ride but they weren’t driving the bigot bus that ran over us.

    The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill passed both Houses of Congress before Reid, Pelosi, Kennedy and Barney Frank tossed it into the trash. These murders belong to them.

    McCain is a rancid right-winger with the Rev. Pat Robertson attached at the hip. Obama is Bill Clinton (DOMA, DADT, NAFTA) in drag with the Rev. Donnie McClurkin attached at the hip.

  14. says

    How is this guy any different from suicide bombers or other terrorists?

    My thoughts are with those good people who were injured and the families of those who were killed by this domestic terrorist.

  15. says


    Inside the house, officers found “Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder” by radio talk show host Michael Savage, “Let Freedom Ring” by talk show host Sean Hannity, and “The O’Reilly Factor,” by television talk show host Bill O’Reilly.

    So who has blood on their hands now?

  16. Victor Urbanowicz says

    Just came across this blog. I was hunting for something else UU-related, because that’s my religious affiliation. I’ve read Noah’s penetrating comments. There aren’t many blog postings as intelligent as that. One point of disagreement: I don’t think Ann Coulter and the other hate-mongers believe the venom they spew. They just want to throw up a smoke screen of falsehood and paranoia to keep their followers voting against their own interests and for the corporations, e.g., the war profiteers.

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