Accuracy in Media

The Washington Post has angered some conservative Christians by quoting a so-called terrorism expert as saying accused bomber Eric Rudolph is a “Christian terrorist.” A more accurate description would be “doper.” The Post had previously noted in passing that Rudolph had traveled to Holland to procure high-quality marijuana seeds for the marijuana he raised and smoked.

Though labeled a harmless drug by many in the media, marijuana use has been linked to mental illness. Studies released last year said that young people who smoke pot frequently are more likely to develop depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.

Deborah Rudolph, one of Eric Rudolph’s former in-laws, told the Southern Poverty Law Center that many years ago Rudolph was “probably making $60,000 a year selling pot?” She said he constructed a “secret little room” in a house where he grew marijuana under special lights, and that he received High Times magazine, which glorifies the drug culture and runs ads for marijuana growing equipment.

Law enforcement officials told Jim Stewart of CBS News that the extreme rhetoric attributed to Rudolph in “Army of God” letters was a diversion. Stewart reported, “As for some ‘Army of God’ letters stating a philosophy, lawmen don’t buy that either. Rudolph bombed a gay nightclub, yet he has a beloved gay brother. He professes to hate abortion, yet his mother says he never mentioned it. He denies the Holocaust, but can’t explain why. He flirted with the white supremacist Christian Identity movement, but never joined. Rudolph did join the Army, and took copious notes during explosives training. But then he got bored, agents say, and smoked so much dope he drew an early discharge. Back home, he was known for just hanging out in the woods and renting video movies nonstop?About the only two things Rudolph ever excelled at, lawmen say, were growing marijuana and building bombs.”

Nevertheless, the June 2 Post story quoted Professor Michael Barkun as saying, “There seems to be a fairly high likelihood that he can legitimately be called a Christian terrorist.” Barkun was identified as having been “a consultant to the FBI on Christian extremist groups.” Barkun is one of a number of so-called experts who convinced the FBI before 9/11 that the terrorist threat to America came from angry racist white Christian males, not Islamic fundamentalists. Under Clinton’s Attorney General Janet Reno, the FBI issued a report warning of Y2K violence from Christian or conservative groups. In fact, an al Qaeda terrorist was apprehended by the border patrol on the eve of the year 2000 as he tried to enter the U.S. from Canada to bomb the L.A. airport.

Charles Stone, a retired Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent who hunted Rudolph, told AP that Rudolph’s rhetoric was a “smokescreen,” and that his anti-government views were motivated by a federal ban on supplements to fight his father’s cancer. Stone said that Rudolph’s marijuana use “made him more paranoid and fed his anti-government views.”

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