No Evidence Links the TX Church Shooter’s Alleged Atheism to His Awful Crime

Eager for any excuse besides lax gun control laws, right-wing conservatives are quick to point the finger at atheism as the reason behind the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Fueling this dumpster-fire is the fact that the shooter “liked” this very website’s Facebook page.

Rational people understand that simply “liking” a page on Facebook doesn’t necessarily equal an endorsement, but for extremists, it’s the perfect excuse to justify their irrational thinking.


Sarah Jones at New Republic explains:

In The Washington Post, Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention avoided the subject of Kelley’s atheism but linked the shooting — sans any firm evidence — to the persecution of the global Christian church. “The goal the gunman sought, to terrorize worshipers, has been attempted constantly over the centuries around the world by cold, rational governments and terrorist groups — all thinking that they could, by the trauma of violence, snuff out churches, or at least intimidate those churches into hiding from one another,” he wrote.

Never mind that authorities have suggested Kelley targeted his mother-in-law, who had attended the church, as part of an ongoing domestic dispute, which in turn links Kelley to other mass murderers of recent vintage, many of whom share a predilection for domestic violence. Moore seems to believe the shooter targeted Christianity itself, a doubly strange position when you consider that white Evangelicals are strong gun supporters. We are seeing how far right-wing Christian conservatives will go to protect gun culture: The nation’s god-fearing do not only sacrifice the children of Sandy Hook, but themselves, too.

People like Moore are quick to ignore or outright deny that plenty of mass murderers have been Christian, and even that they used Christianity as the motive for their crime.

The Daily Beast says Colorado Walmart shooter Scott Ostrem “lived alone in an apartment with a stack of Bibles and virtually no furniture.” Pick any slain abortion provider, and chances are good that his killer professes Christianity. The right’s response is a logical gymnastics; these acts are just evil, no shooter is truly Christian. It is not a coincidence that this rhetoric both protects Christianity and the gun.

It just goes to show: toxic people exist in every demographic, religious and otherwise. If Christians hate being painted with a broad brush when it comes to explaining those who murder abortion doctors, protest soldiers’ funerals, or who let their children die because they’d rather pray than visit a doctor, they ought to extend the same courtesy to other groups, no matter how much they disagree ideologically.

Officials have said repeatedly that there’s no evidence linking the shooter’s religious beliefs, even if he was an atheist, to his horrific actions. That alone should end the speculation. But the crowd that loves to cry Christian persecution has never cared much for evidence, have they?

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