During the early hours of July 20th, a gunman opened fire on movie-goers at a midnight showing of The Dark Night Rises at the Century 16 Theater in Aurora, CO. The Washington Post reports that the massacre left 12 people dead and 59 injured. According to Reuters, Aurora police believe that the suspect, James Holmes, planned the attack in advanced, as suggested by months of deliveries to his work and home addresses.
My heart goes out to all those who have been affected by this tragedy. I cannot begin to imagine the horror that the victims experienced, or the anguish that their loved ones now carry. Why the shooter would perpetrate such a senseless massacre is beyond my grasp, and I hope he faces the full consequences of his bloodshed. Now is a time for empathy, for reflection, and for justice.
Sadly, and as usual, some voices from the Religious Right think that now is a time for pontificating.
During the July 20th edition of Istook Live!, Rep Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) suggested a connection between "attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs" and the Aurora attack. (Hat tip to Huffington Post. See www[dot]istook[dot]com/programhighlights)
"Some of us happen to believe that when our founders talked about guarding our virtue and freedom, that that was important. Whether it's John Adams saying our Constitution was made only for moral and religious people and totally inadequate to government of any others, Ben Franklin, only a virtuous people are capable of freedom, as nations become corrupt and vicious they have more need of masters ... We have been at war with the very pillars, the very foundation of this country ... What really gets me as a Christian is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs, and then some senseless crazy act of terror like this takes place."Gohmert also suggested that alleged indifference toward God was connected to such violence.
"Where was God in all of this? ... We've threatened high school graduation participants that if they use God's name, that they're going to be jailed. We had a principle and a superintendent down in--or a coach down in Florida that were theatened with jail because they said the blessing at a voluntary, off-campus dinner ... Where was God? Well, what have we done with God? We told him we don't want him around. I kind of like his protective hand being present."The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer weighed in as well. In a July 20th post at Rightly Concerned, Fischer blamed school secularization for everything from lower SAT scores to STDs to violence, including the Aurora violence. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch. See www[dot]afa[dot]net/Blogs/BlogPost.aspx?id=2147524440)
"How many more mindless massacres like the one that took place last night in Aurora, Colorado will it take before we tell the ACLU and the Supreme Court to take a hike and we get back to unapologetically and publicly trusting in God?"In a July 20th commentary at OneNewsNow, Jerry Newcombe also blamed secularization for the outburst of senseless violence.
"I can't help but feel that to some extent, we're reaping what we've been sowing as a society. We said to God, "Get out of the public arena." Lawsuit after lawsuit, often by misguided "civil libertarians," have chased away any fear of God in the land -- at least in the hearts of millions."Newcombe speculated that a diminishing fear of hell could also fuel acts of violence.
"Tens of millions of young people in this culture seem to have no fear of God. It's becoming too commonplace that some frustrated person will go on a killing spree of random people. If they kill themselves, they think it's all over. But that's like going from the frying pan into the fire. Where's the fear of God in our society? I don't think people would do those sorts of things if they truly understood the reality of Hell."A member of the Phelps family added less articulate but equally appalling commentary to the public discussion. In a July 20th Twitter post, Westboro Baptist Church member Margie Phelps tweeted that the massacre was a "DIRECT result of filthy fag pride parade in Colo." (Hat tip to the New Civil Rights Movement. See twitter[dot]com/MargieJPhelps/statuses/226292172322926593?tw_p=twt)
I'm sick of this. I'm sick of the Religious Right using human suffering to take cheap shots at their opponents. I'm tired of their tasteless jabs, their lack of human decency, and their dominionist smugness. Spare us your rhetoric. For once in your lives, show some sensitivity in the face of tragedy.
For additional commentary, visit the following links.
SPLC Hatewatch: Gohmert Blames ‘Attacks on Judeo-Christian Beliefs’ for Colorado Massacre
Joe.My.God: Wingnut GOP Rep Blames CO Shooting On Attacks On Religious Freedom
The Maddow Blog: How Not to Respond to a Tragedy