November 6, 2017

Was He an Atheist?

Joseph H. Polley Home Stone CisternReports have surfaced that the alleged shooter in Sutherland Springs might have been an atheist who posted about atheism on Facebook and liked to argue with friends about atheism offline. So far, most of the reports I have seen appeared in sources I do not consider entirely credible (which is why I am choosing not to link to them in this post); however, that does not necessarily mean they are false. I am certainly willing to consider the possibility that he may have been an atheist and that his alleged actions might have been motivated by his attitudes toward religion. I'm not about to claim something ridiculous like "whoever did this wasn't a real atheist."

Whether he turns out to be an atheist or not, I am confident that I will have a great deal of company in condemning the cowardly act of murdering churchgoers. Just in case this does not go without saying, violence is not the way to end religion.

I am similarly confident that this most recent act of gun violence will continue to elicit the same sort of scripted responses we have seen in the wake of every similar tragedy. Some will insist that events like this should not be politicized (unless they are perpetrated by Muslims or immigrants), and others will point out that the ineffectiveness of our politicians is playing an important part in why these tragedies continue to happen. Many will call for "thoughts and prayers," failing to understand why that seems so insulting in this particular case. Some will be concerned that someone (perhaps former President Obama) is coming to take their guns. Many will feel frustrated with the lack of action; however, their outrage will soon be directed elsewhere.

I think it would be a mistake to pretend that gun violence is an easy problem to solve in the U.S. I think it is a far greater mistake to give up on even trying to reduce it. We have become far too accepting of violence, and this reflects poorly on the health of our society.