mass shooting

I'm a Seminary Student at Liberty University. Here's Why Falwell's Comments Concern Me.

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I love my school, and Liberty is not a monolithic place — there are a diversity of worldviews and backgrounds here, and not every student is happy about Falwell’s sentiments. I have met many students and faculty who have helped me develop as a Christian, an academic, and a person. And I applaud the school’s response to the families of the victims of the shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. Hopefully by reaching out to them, Falwell can still bring some sense of healing to the situation.

But I feel I need to speak out on this issue. I believe opportunistic pro-gun rhetoric is deeply devastating to the Christian message.

Jesus Was a Prayer Shamer

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As strange as it may seem, The New York Daily News may have gotten this one right, from a Christian perspective. A snowflake or Christmas tree on our coffee cup isn’t going to make our country a more Christian society. Religious words and calculated condolences aren’t going to restore God’s peace to our streets. The religion of Jesus and the prophets is a sincere faith expressed through positive action for change.

I'm Muslim. I Refuse to Call Myself a Victim After San Bernardino.

Image via REUTERS / Jonathan Alcorn / RNS

After the San Bernardino massacre, I, like other Muslims, worried about my safety.

I wondered what would happen if I went outside, given that I’m easily identifiable in my hijab. I wondered what that day, or the next or the day after that, would be like for me.

And that, I have decided, is ridiculous. I was not a victim that day.

WATCH: Stephen Colbert on Why 'Thoughts and Prayers' Still Matter

Screenshot via The Late Show with Stephen Colbert / Youtube

After the mass shooting in San Bernardino, politicians and others who offered up “thoughts and prayers” came under criticism for not being interested in a solution to gun violence.

But on The Late Show on Dec. 7, Stephen Colbert argued that thoughts and prayers are still important.

“I’d like to defend thoughts and prayers, as someone who occasionally thinks and prays,” he said.

Christians Forgive Murderers Even After Mass Shootings

Image via REUTERS / Sandy Huffaker / RNS

The murderous attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., are too fresh to address at any length.

The brutality and horror of the killings of the innocent and the bloody shootout, the indescribable grief of the families, and the sheer shock of such an incident occurring in an otherwise quiet community demand prayer, reflection, and comfort more than quick and inevitably inadequate pontification.

Sadly, these shootings are not unique. Too often, we have experienced the agony of slaughter in churches, homes, theaters, schools, and other venues of what has been the quiet commonplace.

Yet there is a striking facet of these tragedies that shines brightly amid their grim darkness: The witness of Christians who, in the face of evil, have displayed the love of their savior and the forgiveness he alone can bring.

God's Put This One On Us

The oh-so-familiar reaction started before we knew what had happened in the latest massacre at a conference center. Posts on social media encouraged us to pray for San Bernardino. Tweets went out bearing hashtag prayers.

It’s so damn familiar.

We see the heart-breaking images that are so much like the other heart-breaking images from the other day – different people, different place, different massacre, same sick feeling. We dust off our “Pray for the people of (fill in the blank)” and hashtag a prayer their way.

And then we do nothing to change it. Which means we’re really not praying at all.

'Daily News' Cover on Calif. Shooting: 'God Isn't Fixing This'

Image via RNS

The front cover of the New York Daily News for Dec. 3 takes a strong stance against how some politicians are reacting to the San Bernardino shooting with calls for prayer instead of tighter gun control laws.

The headline says, “God Isn’t Fixing This.”

“As latest batch of innocent Americans are left lying in pools of blood, cowards who could truly end gun scourge continue to hide behind meaningless platitudes,” the cover reads.

States That Mandate Background Checks Have Fewer Mass Shootings, Study Shows

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A new study shows that states that require a background check before purchasing a handgun experience significantly fewer mass shootings, according to The Huffington Post.

Federal laws require background checks for handgun purchases, but many states skirt the law by allowing purchases to occur online or through private sellers. While the study from the organization Everytown for Gun Safety may seem to state the obvious, the notion that background checks save lives is hugely controversial in the U.S., for some reason.

Why We Should Call Chris Harper Mercer by His True Title — A Terrorist

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin, center, in Roseburg, Ore. Image via Steve Dipaola / REUTERS / RNS

In our modern world, “terrorist” is a racially coded word we have reserved primarily for describing Muslims engaged in acts of violence. We are quick to label violence as terrorism the moment we learn that the perpetrator is Muslim, yet we immediately stop short when a non-Muslim commits the same act of violence.

Mercer murdered nine innocent people to further his political ideology and worldview. So why don’t we call him a terrorist? As a nation we can’t continue to have it both ways and expect to adequately address the true threats we face together as a country.

Initial reports from the Los Angeles Times referred to him as a “shooter,” CNN.com called him simply a “gunman.” In the case of Roof, initial reports from USA Today referred to him as a “lone wolf,” former Texas Gov. Rick Perry described the shooting as “an accident,” and an expert interviewed by CNN quickly raised the question of mental illness .

The framing of mental illness plays into classic colonialist and Orientalist discourses in which the colonized are presumed to be savage and irrational, whereas the colonizers are rational and civilized. In other words, we presume that a violent white person must be mentally ill, whereas we assume that a person of color is either predisposed or conditioned to be violent.

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