From Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Bigot: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one who regards or treats the members of a group (such as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.
An article in the latest issue of Church & State magazine gives a number of examples of religious pundits who blame nonbelievers for the increase in mass shootings over the past few years. This is an example of religious bigotry. Most people don’t associate bigotry with religious belief, but when you think about the dictionary definition above, it’s clear that faith-based belief is a fertile field for the seeds of bigotry to grow.
A couple examples from the article:
“When Patrick Crusius went on a shooting spree in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people on Aug. 3, he left little doubt about his motive. A rambling manifesto the 21-year-old left behind condemned the “Hispanic invasion” of Texas and promoted racist ideas. Commenting on the El Paso shooting, former Arkansas governor and failed Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee told Fox, “[L]et’s be real clear. The common denominator in all of this is not the particular weapon. It’s the hate inside the heart. It’s the loss of morality. It’s that disconnecting from a God who values all people and who would never let me do that to another person because I would be basically doing it to God and to myself. … [W]e’ve got a lot of our country that are utterly disconnected from any sense of identity with their Creator and with his love for them and his love for the people that they hate.”
In response to another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio: Ohio state Rep. Candice Keller, a Republican from Butler County, about 30 miles south of Dayton, issued a Facebook post blaming the incidents on, among other things, “the breakdown of the traditional American family (thank you, transgender, homosexual marriage, and drag queen advocates),” professional athletes who fail to stand for the National Anthem, former President Barack Obama and “the culture, which totally ignores the importance of God and the church.”
The author of the article, Rob Boston, editor of Church & State, comments:“Christian nationalists’ tendency to blame enforcement of separation of religion and government in the face of mass shootings and national tragedies is nothing new. Would-be theocrats have been playing that card for decades – and their spiritual ancestors did it hundreds of years ago.
In the curious theology of many fundamentalist Christians, God apparently gets so upset over the lack of compulsory, government-sponsored prayer in public schools and other institutions that he occasionally lashes out with horrifying mass shootings, acts of terrorism, natural disasters, wars and other plagues.
Violence in public schools is routinely blamed on either the lack of formal prayer in schools, the teaching of evolution or both.”
The article in Church & State is titled “The Blame Game.” You can read it here:
For nonbelievers, it’s easy to dismiss these as the fatuous fulminations of fatheads. It’s likely that most of them don’t even believe their own words, and are spouting them to feed some red meat to their followers.
It certainly demonstrates the intolerance of many religious believers, and as Rob says, it is not a new form of bigotry. It’s been with us from the beginning of organized religion.
A final point on the motivation of mass murderers. Many psychological studies have been done on this, and the common characteristics of most of them are:
- They tend to be miserable failures
- They are socially isolated
- They blame others for their failures
- The tend to fetishize and horde weapons.
- They lack empathy
Notice that none of these have anything to do with religious belief or lack thereof. It may be just another form of “suicide by cop.” They must know that they will almost certainly be killed as a result of their actions.