Thoughts, prayers and Christian nationalists: News coverage after mass shootings in Texas and Ohio

I’m back home in Oklahoma after 10 days on the West Coast and catching up on my reading.

Here is one of those “quick” summer posts that tmatt — enjoying time with his grandchildren in Colorado — referenced earlier this week.

Religion figures in a lot of coverage of the Texas and Ohio mass shootings.

Here are five links related to that:

1. The Atlantic’s Emma Green is always worth reading.

Here, she explores “What Conservative Pastors Didn’t Say After El Paso.”

Some crucial paragraphs:

Christianity in America is wildly diverse, but this question, perhaps more than any other, has become a dividing line for churches today: In the midst of rising hatred, Christians cannot agree on what their prophetic role should be, and whether there are political solutions for America’s apparent recent uptick in overt violence and bigotry.

Some pastors, like Morriss, forcefully argue that America’s most powerful leaders, including President Donald Trump, have to be held responsible for their rhetoric and ideas, including vilifying Hispanics and immigrants, the very people mentioned in the manifesto allegedly connected to the El Paso shooting. “If you look at the current propaganda coming from Washington, you might believe that dark-skinned people, and certainly immigrants, ‘bad hombres,’ are the dangerous ones,” Morriss said. “This is not a foreigner issue. This is not an immigrant issue. This is the violence we have made a home for.”

But other pastors, including several influential mega-church leaders who have been strong supporters of the president, have pushed back on what they call the politicization of this and other shootings. “I think it is wrong to assign blame to any party or any candidate for this problem,” Robert Jeffress, the head pastor at First Baptist Church in Dallas and a member of Trump’s evangelical advisory council, told me. “This is the problem of evil.”

2. Also digging deeper, as always, is the Deseret News’ Kelsey Dallas.

Dallas asks: “What is white nationalism? And what does it have to do with religion?”

From her latest piece:

Most people can memorize the definition of racism or white nationalism and grasp that some Americans think white people deserve to be in power more than people of color. However, it's more difficult to recognize or grapple with how these ideas interact with more common beliefs.

For example, it's relatively common to think America is meant to be a Christian nation. But, in some cases, this belief is infused with racism and bigotry and becomes a reason to harm members of racial or religious minority groups, said Whitehead, the co-author of a forthcoming book titled "Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States."

White nationalists believe whites deserve privileged status in the United States and Christian nationalists believe Christians deserve the same. Both ideologies stand in the way of unity, he said.

3. The Associated Press talks to leaders of houses of worship that have experienced mass shootings.

The headline from AP: “New massacres a jolt for clergy who coped with past attacks.”

From the wire service overview:

As Americans reel from back-to-back massacres in Texas and Ohio, religious leaders who have experienced violence in their houses of worship are venting their anger at the persisting violence and trying to help their congregants persevere.

At the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, where a gunman killed 11 worshippers during services last October, emotions ran high Sunday as trustees of one of the synagogue’s three congregations held their monthly meeting just hours after the shootings in El Paso and Daytonthat claimed more than 30 lives.

“Some people were very unnerved, crying and needing to be comforted,” said Rabbi Jonathan Perlman of the New Light Congregation. He said the trustees discussed plans to donate funds to survivors of the new massacres.

“We really need to stop the madness,” Perlman said. “We need to identify people who are extremists around this country and hold them under a microscope.”

At First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where more than two dozen people were killed by a gunman in 2017, Pastor Frank Pomeroy sought to boost his followers’ resolve with upbeat remarks at Sunday’s service. He urged them not to live “in a spirit of fear.”

See (4) more reactions from religious leaders in this piece from Religion News Service’s Adelle M. Banks and the suggestion that (5) ‘Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough’ in this Cincinnati Enquirer.

How else is religion figuring in news coverage after the shootings? Any holy ghosts that you’ve noticed? Please share links in the comments section.

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