Once again, there’s a mindless murder, and, once again, much of the media misses (or ignores) that the suspect in custody is a fundamentalist Christian. That’s not to say 61-year-old Lloyd Montier Barrus’ religion is what drove him to kill an officer during an otherwise routine traffic stop, but rather that his faith would be a primary subject of discussion if he were Muslim or atheist.
On May 6, Barrus mocked the idea that there could be more than two genders. That same day, he posted a seemingly threatening image of a man with a gun that says: “The Republic was not established by cowards and cowards will not preserve it.”
Barrus also posted a vaguely racist image of Hillary Clinton and a video declaring that “Our troops should be able to share the Bible anywhere!” The most chilling posts, however, are his pictures of an open Bible.
The mainstream media’s neglect here isn’t unusual. In April, I pointed out that the San Bernardino shooter who shot up a special needs classroom was actually an outspoken Christian pastor:
I searched through Cedric Anderson’s Facebook page, which is still public for the time being, and found some interesting references to God, religion, and guns that have been ignored by most reporters so far. Anderson’s last post, for instance, in response to the conviction of former L.A. Sheriff Lee Baca, said, “God heard our prayers!!!”
I also noted that a suspect who identified as an atheist was treated differently in a past case:
So what? It doesn’t matter what the shooter believed since the crime is seemingly unrelated, right? That’s what I thought until February 2015, when three Muslim students were killed in a tragic attack carried out by an atheist named Craig Stephen Hicks. The dispute at the center of that shooting involved parking spaces, but media reports consistently cited the suspect’s atheism as a possible cause because of how frequently atheist memes and messages appears on his Facebook page.
This isn’t the first time a murderer’s professed Christianity has gone ignored, and it won’t be the last, but I hope that by discussing this issue and bringing it to the attention of the masses that we can reduce the impact of this double standard.
When is a killer’s religion important? For many in the media, it’s when the suspect isn’t a Christian.