Christian Writer on Aurora Shootings: ‘Christians Are Their Own Worst Enemies’

CNN contributor LZ Granderson is a Christian. But he’s quick to admit that, in times of tragedy, it takes only a matter of minutes before the Christian Right makes itself look not just bad, but downright nasty.

He’s talking, of course, about the tragic theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado. An event that should have ignited nationwide mourning and solidarity inspired some conservative Christian leaders to stick their feet in their mouths by saying that the victims were going to hell, or that someone in the theater should have had a gun to take the shooter down.

In a CNN editorial this week, Granderson reminds us of other tragic events that spawned less-than-classy responses from Christian leaders:

After the September 11 terror attacks, Jerry Falwell blamed the ACLU, as well as feminists, gays and lesbians, for lifting God’s veil of protection. After Hurricane Katrina, Pastor John Hagee said he believed God caused the largest natural disaster in U.S. history to stop a gay pride parade in New Orleans. Bodies were still being recovered from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti when Pat Robertson said the country was struck because it made a “pact to the devil.”

Everyone says stupid things sometimes, Granderson argues. But there’s something uniquely disturbing about the way Christian leaders claim their religion is being affirmed or attacked in response to something like a national tragedy or a controversial move on the political front:

Of course, people of various faiths, agnostics and atheists make questionable statements all the time. The difference is this mantra of an “attack on religious freedom” is most often repeated by politicians and religious leaders of the Christian faith, usually when a political discussion about marriage or women’s reproductive health is taking place.

I’m fine with that.

But I have a problem when a disaster claims innocent victims or causes a great deal of pain and loss, and instead of showing compassion, these so-called leaders of faith say the gays did it. Or the liberals. Or that gem Falwell served up — the ACLU. That kind of rhetoric not only violates Christ’s greatest commandment — to love — but is completely illogical.

LZ’s right on the money with this column. It’d be a little easier to respect the far Christian Right (at this point, respect for them can only go up, right?) if they didn’t give us so many reasons to cringe and back away — especially during times when we should, for once, be sticking together.

Note: A picture posted here earlier was incorrectly captioned that the Westboro Baptist Church “super-picketed” an Aurora vigil. Turns out they threatened to protest, but didn’t show up – and even if they had tried to, they would have been blocked.

About Camille Beredjick

Camille is a twentysomething working in the LGBT nonprofit industry. She runs an LGBT news blog at gaywrites.org.

  • TheAmazingAgnostic

    I often find myself agreeing with LZ Granderson, and his latest post is very insightful.

    However, since ancient times, religious people of a variety of faiths have insinuated that calamities/tragedies occur because the people have turned their backs on God/the spirits.

    That sort of thing is both insensitive and inappropriate. Let’s all leave this senseless event alone and stop trying to drag religion and politics into it. I believe that the human race has evolved past such pettiness and tribalism.

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      I believe that the human race has evolved past such pettiness and tribalism.

      If that were true, we would not have most of the religions currently blighting mankind… since they largely depend on pettiness and tribalism to survive.

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      I really do wish that were the case, the evolving past part I mean. The trouble is that there will always be people who crave power, and those people become leaders of those who aren’t so up on critical thinking. The high priest who constantly berates a congregation/village/shire/nation when calamities strike is doing so to shore up his power base. There’s nothing like fear and uncertainty to bring followers into line, and fear is EXACTLY what so many religions peddle. The more fear, the better, because those same religions also sell comfort.

      You get the fear for free. The comfort is what costs you everything.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002459130781 Bernie Keefe

    Er, uh, the WBC never showed up. That picture was horribly photo-shopped.

    • Thorny264

      I’m hoping it’s supposed to be obviously photoshopped, Just because we have no real pictures of it. Did they not actually show up though? I wonder why? They never usually miss a chance like this.

      • Camille Beredjick

        They threatened to show up but didn’t, and the photo that initially circulated on Twitter was totally shopped – my bad! It’s been updated. 

  • WoodwindsRock

    “The difference is this mantra of an “attack on religious freedom” is
    most often repeated by politicians and religious leaders of the
    Christian faith, usually when a political discussion about marriage or
    women’s reproductive health is taking place.
    I’m fine with that.”

    I’m not. Because denying Christians the right to deny us all of rights because of what THEIR religion says is most certainly not an “attack on religious freedom”.

  • kaydenpat

    Jesus Himself did not claim that calamities happened because of people’s sins.  Wonder why the Christian Right doesn’t take a page from the person they claim to be following.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_of_Siloam


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