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Reactions to the Navy Yard shooting and Aaron Alexis’ Buddhist background

WASHINGTON (RNS) A killer Buddhist? It doesn’t seem to make theological sense.

Photo of Aaron Alexis
Photo of Aaron Alexis

Photo of Aaron Alexis

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:

https://twitter.com/joshua_eaton/status/379801383580356608

https://twitter.com/joshua_eaton/status/379801538643767296

https://twitter.com/joshua_eaton/status/379802890329530368

https://twitter.com/joshua_eaton/status/379805143530610688

https://twitter.com/joshua_eaton/status/379806448462479360

Prayers for the victims and leaders:

https://twitter.com/RickWarren/status/379638729289113600