Western civilization has recognized a principle of “sanctuary” for centuries. Any person or organization, regardless of their beliefs or motivation, is culturally and morally enjoined from initiating violence in a place of worship.
Yet this act, likely carried out by someone who claims religious justification for his actions, defiles this principle. He entered a church, while the service is in progress, and committed murder.
In doing so, whatever moral ground he may have claimed, either in this society, or from whatever god he may worship, is in my mind, forfeit.
The Religious Right has been quick to condemn this killing – but I think more for fear of the backlash to their cause than on the principle alone.
These people are frustrated because they find their attempts to spread their message unpersuasive. Failing to convince others to their belief system by words alone, they are unafraid to resort to threats and acts of violence instead.
Their preferred method is to use the government’s power to do this for them. Where their message falls on unhearing ears, they try to get laws passed which allow the government to use force upon people who do not behave in ways consistent with their religion. But this is hypocritical.
They are confusing “belief” with “behavior.”
Perhaps they do not wish to be confronted with the fact that there are people who simply do not believe as they do. If everyone would behave in ways that are consistent with these people’s beliefs, then they could pretend that their evangelical message had been successful.
But their evangelism is about belief, not behavior. Behavior follows belief, but does not demonstrate it.
Forcing people to behave the way they want is not evangelism, it is just bullying.
Using threats or acts of violence is totally inconsistent with their stated beliefs – and this is true whether those threats or acts of violence are carried out by individuals acting outside the law – as in this case – or are carried out by the government on their behalf.
No, these are weak people who cannot fathom that their message is not eagerly taken up by the masses. In frustration, they threaten and kill those who won’t believe as they want.
This is why the First Amendment was written – to keep these people in check.