It’s human nature to want to understand things. Our relentless curiosity is what drives us forward as individuals and as a culture. Most people take it for granted that the present is a more enlightened age than any previous one, the idea being that we are constantly evolving and improving.
This desire to understand the world around us can be especially challenging when dealing with horrific or tragic events that, thankfully, most will never personally experience. The recent shootings in Atlanta are one such heartbreaking series of events. And it’s only natural for people to want to understand what happened and what might have motivated such a despicable attack on innocent people.
But recent articles in the New York Times and other outlets seek to lay blame at the feet of evangelical Christianity because the person responsible was considered to be a member of that community.
That’s as unfair as saying that his terrible crimes are to be blamed on his parents, teachers, or friends.
The truth is that we are each responsible for our thoughts, decisions and actions. We all have moments where we are at our worst and other moments where we fully live up to our potential. The acts of cowardice this man perpetrated on those innocent people has nothing to do with his religion, his race, his gender or any other demographic attribute. They are the corrupted decisions of a broken mind.
The truth is that we are each responsible for our thoughts, decisions and actions.
Seeking to give those decisions logical context is understandable but fundamentally flawed. There is no making sense of or trying to understand the thought process that leads to crimes like these. They are not a litmus test for the value of a certain belief system or worldview. They are not a comment on other members of his family, church or community. They are the poisonous product of a diseased individual who alone is responsible for his actions and who alone should suffer the consequences.
Millions of Christians around the world rely on their faith to bring them closer to God and live more meaningful and purposeful lives. No church or belief system is perfect, but no group should be judged based on the actions of the few—individuals so far gone mentally and spiritually that they will make destructive decisions regardless of what groups they may be a part of.
Religion is a vital component of every free society. Individuals aspire to higher states. Religion helps them arrive. It provides comfort and purpose and meaning and structure to people’s lives. An insane act is not the fault of a religion—in fact, it reinforces why religion exists in the first place: people are imperfect.
We need a spiritual hand.