It took less than 48 hours for the religious right to rise up and proclaim that the Aurora, Colorado shootings are the result of America's “Godless” secularism and the policies of the Democratic Party. Their ravings and rants run the gamut: from tweets by Rick Warren, the preacher who presided over President Obama's inauguration, to "Operation Save America" leader and convicted stalker Flip Beham, who blames the shooting on the Democratic Party.
Immediately after the shootings, Warren took a swipe at the teaching of evolution as he tweeted that ,“When students are taught that they are no different from animals, they act like it.”
The banner headline of the “Christian Newswire” site run by Beham reads: “Murders in Colorado -- Harbinger of DNC Culture of Death.”
These two are obviously channeling Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell, who blamed the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 on America's embrace of gays and the “homosexual lifestyle.”
The really sad thing about these peoples' statements is that as supposed “men of God” one would think, hope, that they would offer solace, prayer and condolences to the victims and families of these tragedies. Instead, they always find a way to blame what they call “secularism,” ”humanism,” or “liberal” policies for any and all ills which descend upon the American body politic.
Stricter gun control laws are dismissed by them as misguided tampering with the constitutional, if not God-given, right to bear arms. Many of them are even arguing that had some in the theater crowd been armed, perhaps James Holmes would not have managed to wreak as much damage as he did. This view completely, of course, ignores the fact that had Mr. Holmes been unable to purchase his weaponry in the first place, the incident would never have occurred.
The religious right has consistently demonstrated a knee-jerk and self-righteous response to these continuing tragedies. And it is always the same. They manage, somehow, to connect all of their pet issues to every incident: Homosexuality, evolution versus creationism, prayer in school, and, of course, abortion. One preacher has directly blamed Planned Parenthood for the Colorado massacre.
But it is their anti-intellectualism that is most troubling. I do not begrudge nor argue with anyone about his or her religious beliefs. Religious faith is just that – faith, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” When actual “evidence” is presented, whether in support or refutation of a proposition, an intelligent person modifies his “belief” to square with the evidence. He or she then becomes a thinker rather than just a believer.
The religious right never quite makes that necessary step from faith to thought. Thus, it is easy for them to accept that the earth is only 6,000 years old; that global warming and climate change are inventions of a “liberal” ideology; that man has no connection whatever with ape-like ancestors from millions of years ago. And on, and on, and on.
Likewise, it is easy for them to assume that all evil in the world emanates from man's failure to “believe” in God, especially and exclusively, in their God.
Holy Bible, King James Version, Hebrews 11:1