After a woman named Nasim Najafi Aghdam shot and wounded three people at YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, Calif., before killing herself this week, the San Francisco Chronicle had an excellent angle for a meaty religion story.
The Chronicle reported on what its headline characterized as "a troubling rush" by social media users to view the shooter as "driven by faith."
To some extent, this was a typical "Muslim backlash" story — the kind that often make headlines after someone of the Islamic faith is involved in an attack such as this.
But there was a major problem with the online rush to judgment, as the Chronicle noted:
In the end, investigators said the shooter, Nasim Aghdam, was angry about YouTube’s “policies and practices” — a message echoed by her family. And her videos reportedly included messages describing herself as of the Baha’i faith — a religious minority in Iran.
The same pattern has often emerged following mass violence — a wave of presumptions that the incident is linked to a perpetrator’s religious practices, assumed to be Islam. Muslim Americans, and others, see a profoundly unsettling routine.
“It’s sad to see how some people are literally giddy rather than somber after a shooting when they can exploit the tragedy to further their racist agenda,” said Dalia Mogahed, research director for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a think tank in Washington, D.C., that seeks to empower American Muslims.
It's an interesting piece, although I wish the paper had identified the social media offenders rather than referring to them in vague, anonymous terms.
Meanwhile, let's dive into the Friday Five:
1. Religion story of the week: This one has been stuck in my mind since I first read it
The Tennessean's story on the death of 5-year-old Pearl Joy Brown, who "defied the hardships of a rare medical condition and survived past birth," is a must read, as I noted in a post earlier this week.
2. Most popular GetReligion post: For the first time, we have a repeat winner.
Julia Duin's post on the Chicago Tribune's investigation of Bill Hybels' #ChurchToo moment occupies the No. 1 spot for the second straight week.
3. Guilt folder fodder (and more): Here's one I meant to mention earlier: New York Times religion writer Laurie Goodstein's profile of the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez.
"I know I will be criticized — I get that — but I have to stand up. It’s part of the calling," Rodriguez, a Latino evangelical who advises President Donald Trump on immigration issues, told the Times.
But even though March Madness is over, I still think former GetReligion contributor Sarah Pulliam Bailey's Washington Post story on Sister Jean and nun stereotypes is worth your time.
5. Final thought: This is one way to get your kid up for church. (For the record, I don't recommend it.)
According to various media reports, an Arizona mother had her Taser handy as she roused her 17-year-old son on Easter son.
“I said, ‘Get up! It’s Jesus day!’ ” Sharron Dobbins, 40, recalled to ABC 15 in Phoenix.
The woman was arrested after the boy told police Dobbins touched his leg with the Taser, but she denies actually using the device.
Happy Friday, everybody! Enjoy the weekend!