Atheists are condemning the actions of a gunman who walked into the Washington, D.C. office of the Family Research Council, and saying that the role of religion in the public sphere should be fought with reason and logic, not guns.
Police have yet to assign a motive to the actions of the individual who walked into the Christian conservative group’s building and when confronted by a security guard shot him in the arm. “We don’t know enough about him or his circumstances to determine what his connection is to this group [the research council] or his mental state, or what he was doing or thinking of doing. So we’re going to try to sort this all out, pull the evidence together, do all the interviews we can,” said the FBI’s James McJunkin.
Edwina Rogers, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition For America condemned the violence, “While we disagree with the Family Research Council on nearly every issue, the debate surrounding the role of religion in the public sphere should be fought with reason and logic, not guns. We absolutely condemn this sort of senseless violence.” Rogers also said that the organization’s thoughts are with the security guard that was shot, and she called the victim a hero.
No matter how one feels about the FRC’s politics and beliefs, it is impossible to ignore the fact that for the third time in less than a month there has been another high profile shooting. We will never know if this incident could have turned into a mass shooting, but it is becoming difficult to ignore the looming conversation about how we can protect the Second Amendment but keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous people that must be had.
It is inevitable that some individuals on the far right will use the actions of one person to further their political agenda. I can hear Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck using this incident to fuel their fantasies of a violent left that is coming to get believers and people of faith. Some very cynical people may even try to use this incident to boost Republican turnout in the 2012 election.
Atheists strongly disagree with those on the right who are seeking a more public or state sponsored role for religion in the United States, but there is no place for violence in this dialogue. When bullets replace words in our society, liberty will wounded, and all citizens, atheist and believer alike cease to be free.