What’s the common denominator for mass murderers? White, Male, Christian, or Crazy: answer may surprise you.

Elizabeth Drescher’s recent tweet, “Angry, Hateful, Demented white people are really bringing me down #Aurora#ChickFilA #OakCreek” seems to indicate her angst. She writes a brilliant article at Religion Dispatches talking about the link between masculinity and mass violence. Drescher is the fundamental question regarding the recent spate of mass murders in America: What is the common denominator?

There is a connection to whiteness, most mass murderers are white, but not all by any stretch. That’s not the common denominator. Most are Christian, but the same problem arises: many are not Christian. Many are mentally ill, this seems to be a very important factor, but again there are many who are absolutely sane, just angry or convinced that violence is their only recourse.

Drescher’s conclusion is: “by and large the common denominator in mass killing is gender; the intimate enemy [the killer] is almost always a man.”

Drescher rightly points out that a major player in the hegemony of the masculine is religion, which in the case of American Society means Christianity.

“we cannot begin to address the culture of violence that is literally exploding all around us without acknowledging that “manning up” in American culture too often involves actions aimed at the subordination of others—women, children, nature—to the will of a man who, it is assumed, embodies the will of God. These often religiously informed, institutionalized, and naturalized versions ofmasculinity play no small part in the continuum of violence that moves from the domestic sphere to the public arena.

As gender scholar Raewyn Connell has noted: “There are many causes of violence, including dispossession, poverty, greed, nationalism, racism, and other forms of inequality, bigotry and desire. Gender dynamics are by no means the whole story. Yet given the concentration of weapons and the practices of violence among men, gender patterns appear to be strategic. Masculinities are the forms in which many dynamics of violence take shape.”

About Tim Suttle

Find out more about Tim at TimSuttle.com

Tim Suttle is the senior pastor of RedemptionChurchkc.com. He is the author of several books including his most recent - Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church Growth Culture (Zondervan 2014), Public Jesus (The House Studio, 2012), & An Evangelical Social Gospel? (Cascade, 2011). Tim's work has been featured at The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Sojourners, and other magazines and journals.

Tim is also the founder and front-man of the popular Christian band Satellite Soul, with whom he toured for nearly a decade. The band's most recent album is "Straight Back to Kansas." He helped to plant three thriving churches over the past 13 years and is the Senior Pastor of Redemption Church in Olathe, Kan. Tim's blog, Paperback Theology, is hosted at Patheos.

  • Gerard

    Interesting way to examine this. I appreciated Hugh Schwyzer’s take on the privileged white men connection to public shootings.

    http://www.rolereboot.org/culture-and-politics/details/2012-07-why-most-mass-murderers-are-privileged-white-men

    Also interesting is how he points out the trend of searching for connections to race/religion/culture when the shooting is carried out by a person of color. When it’s a white man, the media immediately assumes they must be sick or evil.

  • scott stone

    I’d refine the common denominator down a bit. They are, by and large, American men.
    I read her article and couldn’t pick up on the #chick-fil-a. I wonder what that was for.

  • http://towardfatherhood.com j oliver

    Ok, so help me along here…the author’s point is that most violent crime is perpetrated by the hunter/gatherers of our society? Well that’s neither new, nor news, so her following assertions must comprise her major point – mainly, that religiously-informed ideas of masculinity comprise the deeper root of homicidal violence.

    “…’manning up’ in American culture too often involves actions aimed at the subordination of others—women, children, nature—to the will of a man who, it is assumed, embodies the will of God. These often religiously informed, institutionalized, and naturalized versions of masculinity play no small part in the continuum of violence…”

    Drescher’s angst seems rooted in this obscure, deeply fallacious proposition that “God is all male, so all males are God.” Assuredly some significant set of humans believe this, but that set is hardly restricted to Christianity, and certainly not in touch with a true image of God or masculinity. Yet she seems to play up religious fringe extremists as representative of the religious population (inspiring disdain with her logical aerobatics).

    Furthermore, Drescher seems to condemn men at large (especially White and Christian) as “the enemy,” forgetting the unsung acts of heroism (and productive normalcy) carried on daily by an endless procession of “angry (White or Christian) men” – fathers, teachers, cops and soldiers, firefighters and mentors and factory workers alike.

    This article left me puzzled. Drescher teaches and works in ministry, and so obviously isn’t simply trodding on Christianity. I wish I could get to know her, and understand what she’s really on about.

    j oliver

  • J

    The common denominator are the fact they are White. White males most be urged to take responsibility for the fact that majority of mass shooters are white males. Maybe if they realize this we can figure out what’s wrong with young white males. Please don’t start to say blacks commit all crimes (if i stipulate blacks commit 99.999% of crime). It will not take the fact away that white males are gunning down innocent human beings at will. You have to own this help can take place.

  • Rhig Ginsun

    Interesting that Drescher fails to mention that Asian American men-especially Korean Americans-
    are significantly over-represented in the mass shooter club. Also interesting that in Korean culture
    there is a feeling called Han…a feeling of helplessnes, hopelessness, injustice and isolation against perceived overwhelming odds. This might well account for not only the Asian American shooters, but the majority of workplace shooters as well. Having worked for the Postal Service for 15 years, I know that Han exists in many long-time Postal employees.

  • jake

    All false. There is a minimal race correlation with the last 50 mass murderers (at least 4 deaths in one incident). It is true that most of the “big ones” were done by whites and one asian in recent memory. But that is statistically a very small pool of incidents to draw from. And you also have to keep in mind that whites and asians generally commit homicides at a lower rate than other races, it is just that they seem slightly over represented in the “big ones”. The priveledged angle is weak IMO and is probably just selected to fit the progressive liberal worldview more than anything. No data.

    As for the Christian angle that is shaky ground. A huge percentage of Americans consider themselves “Christian” but not that many of them go to church frequently. People who frequent church rarely commit murder or mass murder, though a few serial killers did. Most mass murderers are individuals like McVeigh who grew up Christian but didn’t go to church as an adult and didn’t much identify with it. That or they are straight up atheists.

    But this is not causation. Simply put, church is a community event. It is filled with people that like to get together with other people and share in faith. Most murders and sociopaths generally steer away from group events like this and are more loners.

    I don’t know this “study” is basically a bunch of crap. Some progressive liberal trying to find a false link between white/christian and evil. The progressive way they way.


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