This morning, reacting to the tragic murders of 11 Jewish people in a Pittsburgh synagogue, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on FOX & Friends that the cause was anti-religiosity on television.
Not anti-Semitism. Not right-wing propaganda expressed by Donald Trump and FOX News that the killer expressed. But the general mockery of religious hypocrisy by late-night TV hosts (most of whom are openly religious themselves).
… the anti-religiosity in this country that is somehow in vogue, and funny, to make fun of anybody of faith and is constantly making fun of people who express religion, the late night comedians, the unfunny people on TV shows. It’s always anti-religious.
And remember: These people were gunned down in a place of worship. As were the people in South Carolina several years ago. And they were there because they’re people of faith, and it’s that faith that needs to bring us together. This is no time to be driving God out of the public square…
The shooter wasn’t a deranged atheist trying to eradicate peaceful worshipers. He was a right-wing conspiracy theorist who posted on a right-wing social media site and openly admitted to hating Jews specifically. He didn’t even like Trump because he felt Trump was controlled by Jews. (Atheists don’t hate Jews. Many atheists are Jews.)
He was also a believer in the supernatural. His profile on the conservative site Gab included the statement “jews are the children of satan.” Atheists don’t believe in Satan.
Furthermore, no non-theistic organization is celebrating the 11 deaths. No atheist group has a problem with people peacefully worshiping or conducting religious ceremonies. No late-night comedian (with a lone exception) openly condemns religion; rather, they point out religious hypocrisy and they’re right to do so. (Stephen Colbert, who’s been relentless against Trump, is famously and devoutly Catholic.)
Hell, Trump has likely done more to turn people away from religion — certainly evangelical Christianity — than any atheist in the country.
We won’t solve the problem of mass shootings with more God in the public square and tearing down the wall of separation between church and state. Countries that are far less religious than ours have a mere fraction of the gun deaths we do, and it’s because they have strict rules about gun ownership. It also helps having a leader who isn’t propped up by conservative hate groups.
It’s typical of this administration to blame a hate-fueled massacre on their cultural enemies to score political points instead of acknowledging their own responsibility in creating a culture where hate-speech and ignorance are routinely rewarded (or ignored) instead of condemned.
It’s especially rich for Conway to suggest the mass shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina was also the result of anti-religious sentiment. The killer was religious.
1. Dylann Roof was Lutheran, and attended St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Columbia, South Carolina.
He’s made pretty clear his motivations for attacking the Charleston church were about racism, not religion.
The FBI even brought up the subject while interviewing him. https://t.co/uWeWS5J6BO
— Jack Jenkins (@jackmjenkins) October 29, 2018
Meanwhile, this administration is full of people who have no problem trashing religions other than their own:
Hey @KellyannePolls. Was it "anti-religiosity" when Robert Jeffress, your boss's favorite evangelical, called Mormonism "heresy from the pit of hell" and a cult? When he said the Catholic Church is an instrument of Satan? Or when he said Jews would go to hell? Just wondering. https://t.co/lsTfvnXha2
— Nick Fish (@NotNickFish) October 29, 2018
It’s not surprising that Conway is spreading lies in the wake of a tragedy. That’s her job as unofficial propaganda minister. What’s infuriating is that she probably knows damn well that atheism has nothing to do with these massacres, but she has no shame in blaming a traditional conservative bogeyman despite the complete lack of evidence for it.