A killer Buddhist? It doesn’t seem to make theological sense.
Consider the mentally troubled Aaron Alexis, who police say killed 12 at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., on Monday. He once meditated twice a week at a Buddhist temple, according to reports from Texas. It appeared like just one more detail in a full portrait of a man thrust into the headlines – along with his education, work and mental health history and his personal passion for violent video games.
But when does the religion of a mass killer make sense?
Does it only matter if faith is the motive?
In the case of now-convicted Fort Hood killer Maj. Nidal Hassan, a Muslim called himself a “holy warrior.” It was his twisted motive to slaughter 13 people – an act never condoned in Islam. Indeed, no religion advocates slaughtering innocents.
So does a routine mention of a faith upbringing – along with a suspect’s education, work and other personal traits – matter?
The Catholic background of Adam Lanza, the Newtown, Conn., school shooter, didn’t shape his troubled life. Neither did James Holmes’ lack of faith matter to his assault on the audience of The Dark Knight Rising in Aurora, Colo.
Is religion a box that must always be checked in media reports on a mass killing?
Here’s what tweeters had to say. Join the conversation with comments that are smart, short and civil:
— Provost of Antifa / سيدة الفتنة (@MsEntropy) September 17, 2013
every religion produces evil people, just because #Aron Alexis was practicing Buddhism doesn't mean Buddhism evil. Same for Islam/Christian
— SonamOngmo བསོད་ནམས་དབང་མོ།༄ (@SonamWongmo) September 17, 2013
Prayers for the victims and leaders:
— DC Archdiocese (@WashArchdiocese) September 17, 2013
— Washington National Cathedral (@WNCathedral) September 16, 2013
In DC, saying a prayer for those killed & injured in #NavyYardShooting. May we not rush to judgment. May we respond with courage & calm.
— Valarie Kaur (@valariekaur) September 16, 2013
Praying for my fellow Mississippian @SECNAV as he leads in the aftermath of the awful DC Navy Yard shootings.
— Russell Moore (@drmoore) September 17, 2013
"We send our thoughts and prayers to all at the Navy Yard who've been touched by this tragedy." —President Obama
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) September 16, 2013
#NavyYardShooting This can happen anywhere now. When will we learn? Praying for the victims and families.
— Jim Wallis (@jimwallis) September 16, 2013