Religion, ‘Evil’ Slip Into Media Reports on Shootings

It’s not just FNC’s Mike Huckabee who injected religion into the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school. He was just more explicit about it.

The dust had barely cleared before Huckabee blamed the incident, at least in part, on the secularization of schools. “We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools,” he said on FNC Friday. The remarks made news and some in the media criticized Huckabee for what they saw as an oversimplified view.

But conservative commentator Erick Erickson said nearly as much in a column for RedState today. Erickson referred to the shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, as “an evil creature” and said “liberal pundits” who “mock” religion “have chosen the very society that generates the heinous act we saw on Friday — a society replacing ourselves and our standards with those of God.”

But the word “evil” itself, a word often associated with religion, has been bandied about to describe what happened Friday and not just by conservatives…

At a vigil in Newtown, Conn., last night President Obama referred to the “unconscionable evil” that took place. Last week, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Mallow said “evil visited this community.”

Noting that Lanza has been diagnosed by much of the news media as “mentally ill,” University of London Historian Lindsey Fitzharris wrote in The Guardian today: “Very little discussion – if any – was given to the role of personal responsibility in this tragic event.It is an age-old question: what is evil? … I want to remind the US and the world of one thing: evil is about choice. Sickness is about the absence of choice.”

In the New York Daily News: “[Lanza] killed himself after wreaking pure evil.”

Even the AP, practically the Pope when it comes to reserving judgement, got in on it, publishing a story that characterized the tragedy as “pure evil.”

Maybe Huckabee and Erickson are wrong about secularization having caused the shooting. But they’re not alone in suggesting it was caused by something unnatural.

Publish date: December 17, 2012 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT