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.