I have held off from commenting on the horrendous Aurora shootings for three good reasons.
One, it seems appropriate to show some restraint in the face of an unimaginable tragedy. Two, it takes time for a clear picture of what the suspect's motivations were. No one knows yet. Three, it would be appalling to rush to politicize this tragedy whilst the victims are still reeling from its utter senselessness.
Not everyone has shared my own restraint, I notice. In particular America's high profile evangelical spokesperson's have already rushed to judgement all over the media.
I am not surprised by this. Religious people often want to reassure the faithful when the nation is faced with a chaotic act of nihilism. But these days they are sounding a battle cry rather than a call to prayer.
Evangelist Fred Jackson, the American Family Association’s news director, firmly placed the blame for the Colorado movie massacre not on 24 year old James Holmes and his easy access to a lethal assault rifle, but on the gays.
People, said Jackson, 'no longer believe that Jesus is the only way of salvation, they teach that God is OK with homosexuality, this is just increasing more and more. It is mankind shaking its fist at the authority of God.'
Evangelist Pat McEwen, head of Operation Save America, had no doubt who was to blame either: the Democratic Convention.
'James Holmes is the product of the Culture of Death that the DNC has embraced. There is not a police force big enough to make a young man do what is right. The only answer - there is a King whose name is Jesus."
Matt Barber, vice president of Liberty Counsel Action writing for World Net Daily, with equal certainty wrote:
'Am I comparing this incredibly wicked, illegal mass murder at Aurora’s Century Theatre to the incredibly wicked, legal mass murder committed at Planned Parenthoods across the country each day? Absolutely – and you can quote me on it.'
Barber continued: 'We as a nation – as a people – have turned our backs on God. We have rebelled against Him and have forgotten that it was He and He alone who gave us 200-plus years of prosperity, unprecedented in world history. We have left Him, so why are we surprised He’s leaving us?'
Evangelist Greg Stier knows where to pin the blame on for the shootings: Satan.
Wondering if Colorado was a demonic stronghold he wrote: 'Frankly, as broken hearted as I am for the victims I’m infuriated with Satan. I’m sick and tired of his twisted, anti-God, anti-life ways.'
For good measure Jerry Newcombe, an evangelical spokesperson for Truth In Action, said during a discussion he participated in to understand the shooting tragedy in Colorado:
'If a Christian dies early, if a Christian dies young, it seems tragic, but really it is not tragic because they are going to a wonderful place.. on the other hand, if a person doesn’t know Jesus Christ.. if they knowingly rejected Jesus Christ, then, basically, they are going to a terrible place. '
So there you have it. It was the gays, it was the DNC, it was abortion, it was man's rebelliousness and defiance of God, it was Satan. And if you weren't a Christian when Holmes shot you, you'll be burning in Hell now.
This is what Christianity sounds like on the nation’s airwaves now. It's an echo chamber of blistering righteousness, judgement and condemnation. I have parsed those lines for a sign of love and healing but I can find any.
The questions that were not asked by evangelicals yet include, could the shooting have been caused by yet another unhinged twenty something male with access to an automatic assault rifle more suited to a war zone? Should everyone have access to a submachine gun that can shoot one hundred bullets per clip? Are lax gun laws sensible?
The term assault rifle is a translation of the German word Sturmgewehr (literally 'storm rifle') by the way. The name was coined by Adolf Hitler. Many Americans seem to think we should all have easy access to the weaponry Adolf Hitler admired. Many Americans seem to believe there is nothing either God or man can do to protect us from them anyway.
Did you know there are more guns than people in the United States? Did you know that those who own guns are statistically more likely to die in gun exchange than those who do not? If you do know these facts don't they ever give you pause?
I understand why evangelicals would want to protest abortion. What I can't understand is why we never hear them protest the men and women killed in state executions, or the thousands of US soldiers killed in war waged over WMD that failed to produce any WMD. We don't hear them call for a ban on America's guns. It seems only some kinds of mass murder concern them and not others.
When will they get serious about guns? Why haven’t they mentioned them once? What it really looks like now is the failure of evangelicals to confront the preventable tragedies of the modern world. So instead they double down on condemnation and judgement.