'Snuff' the Gun Shop Owner, Priest Says

Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:23pm EDT
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(CNSNews.com) - An Illinois gun-rights group says it plans to complain to the Catholic Church after a Chicago priest at the weekend appeared to call for the murder of a suburban gun shop owner.

During a Rainbow/PUSH Coalition protest at Chuck's Gun Shop & Range on Saturday, the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina's Church, threatened to "snuff" shop owner John Riggio.

The Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) has posted online what is says is a recording of Pfleger's remarks.

In the audio clip, the priest is heard being introduced to the crowd by the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Immediately therafter, Pfleger launches into a tirade.

"I want the NRA [National Rifle Association] to understand - you have a lot of money, but money can't buy moral authority and it can't buy justice or freedom, and we will fight you, NRA," he says.

"We will fight you on every angle [sic], no matter how much money you've got, we will embarrass you, and we will embarrass every legislator that takes money from you. We will call them out by name, by district. We will expose you, legislators."

Pfleger then turns his attention to Riggio. "He's the owner of Chuck's. John Riggio. R-i-g-g-i-o. We're going to find you and snuff you out ? you know you're going to hide like a rat. You're going to hide but like a rat we're going to catch you and pull you out. We are not going to allow you to continue to hide when we're here ?"

"We're going to keep coming back, and like Reverend Jackson says, it takes civil disobedience, if it takes whatever it takes ? we're going to snuff out John Riggio, we're going to snuff out legislators that are voting ? and we are coming for you because we are not going to sit idly. Keep on fighting, people. Keep on fighting, keep on fighting."

St. Sabina describes itself as a "Bible-teaching" African-American Catholic Church.

The day before the anti-gun protest, the church hosted former Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who was making a rare public appearance. Pfleger was quoted as describing the controversial Muslim activist as "a gift from God to a sick, sick world."

ISRA Executive Director Richard Pearson called it "shocking" to hear a priest advocate the murder of a gun shop owner "who has never committed a crime in his life."

"Pfleger's comments were disgusting and dangerous," Pearson said. "And, I seem to remember that the Fifth Commandment frowns on murdering one's neighbor," he added.

"This week, I'll be penning a letter to the Archbishop, expressing my concerns over Rev. Pfleger's comments," continued Pearson. "I would hope that the Archbishop would reply with words of comfort for Mr. Riggio, his family, state legislators, and all others who were injured by Rev. Pfleger's thoughtless, inflammatory remarks."

In a message on the church's website, Pfleger says he believes that "we are called by God to build this church in a world filled with division, alienation and racism in order that we may be a witness to the world that it is possible and that the love of God is stronger than the hate of Satan."

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