Monday, December 7, 2015

APN President Lumps Together Islam, Nazism, and Atheism After San Bernardino Tragedy

On December 2nd, Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik opened fire on a gathering in San Bernardino, California and murdered 14 people, according to Reuters. The two shooters were later killed during a shootout with law enforcement. According to the New York Times, the FBI is investigating Farook and Malik's rampage as an act of terrorism. Farook's father claimed that his son agreed with ISIS ideaology, according to AFP, and Malik pledged allegiance to ISIS in a Facebook posting before the rampage, according to a Facebook spokesman.

Americans responded to the shooting with horror and grief, especially since the shooting occurred so soon after another mass shooting in Colorado Springs. Unfortunately, one Religious Right figure used the shooting as an opportunity to ridicule those who did not embrace his faith.

In a recent statement posted at Hamilton Strategies, American Pastors Network president Sam Rohrer argued that evil is a "heart issues and a faith issue", not a gun control matter. Unfortunately, he also argued that evil that starts with one's rejection of Jesus, speaking of Islam, Nazism, and "aggressive atheism" in the same breath.
"The degree of adherence to one’s ideology or faith determines their choices and actions ... Only people who embrace evil ideologies take pleasure in death and destruction. It is time to understand that the cause of evil is a heart issue and a faith issue—not a gun issue. And a person’s rejection of Jesus Christ and absolute Truth is where it starts. Whether the particular face of evil is in the form of Nazism, Islam, aggressive atheism or other anti-God ideologies, the resultant choices and actions are only a matter of degree. No nation, including the United States of America, that turns its back on God and embraces an ideology that rejects absolute truth, Jesus Christ and the Bible can long endure."
Ironically, Rohrer warned against using problems for political gain.
"True moral leaders are duty-bound to focus on the true cause of problems and embrace honest solutions, rather than point to symptoms as an opportunity for political exploitation and the furthering of personal agendas ... "
Rohrer's words were beyond insensitive. Using a mass shooting to ridicule atheists and other groups one does not like is tasteless.

Islamic extremists and Nazis cannot be lumped together with law-abiding Muslims and atheists. The values and choices of non-Christians do not automatically lead to evil, nor do they necessarily differ by "only a matter of degree" from those of extremists. Moreover, Christian faith does not necessarily inoculate people against evil, as the Colorado Springs rampage illustrates.

Lumping people into binary categories oversimplifies the problem of evil. Such black-and-white thinking prevents us from understanding the roots of evil behavior. Instead of labeling Christians as "good" and non-Christians as "evil", Rohrer and his supporters should learn more about extremism, the real cause of the San Bernardino rampage.


  1. "It is time to understand that the cause of evil is a heart issue and a faith issue—not a gun issue. And a person’s rejection of Jesus Christ and absolute Truth is where it starts."

    Fear drives this kind of rhetoric. It's dangerous and irresponsible because it dehumanizes anyone who does not believe in Jesus Christ. "Christians" like Rohrer can't allow themselves to feel empathy for people who don't share their beliefs.

    1. Agi Tater -- You're right on the money, as always. It's more us-versus-them thinking that allows fundamentalist Christians to exalt themselves.

  2. "rejection of Jesus Christ and absolute Truth is where it starts."
    So the other 5 billion people on the planet are evil incarnate? What a narrow minded jackass.

    1. Jono -- Agreed. Not all non-Christians are bad people, and not all Christians are good people. It's a simple concept, but some people just can't grasp it.

  3. "aggressive atheism"

    I guess that means speaking up when Christianists attack people who don't agree with their "aggressive" push to impose their religious ideas, through legislation, on anyone who doesn't share them. Do these people walk around with a capital "V" on their foreheads for "VICTIM?"

    1. Shaw -- It's funny, isn't it? They ignore their own aggressiveness, but blast the supposed aggressiveness of others for just existing.


All comments are subject to moderation. Threatening, violent, or bigoted comments will not be published.