Although left-leaning organizations have condemned the shooting of three adults and three children Monday at The Covenant School in Nashville at the hands of a woman who identified as transgender, few have expressed solidarity with the Christian community or called the murders an act of terror.
Yet the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at the California State University-Santa Barbara did just that. Its president, Brian Levin, called on Americans to express solidarity with the Christian community, as they should whenever a community faces a terrorist attack.
“While the exact motive is unknown, when an apparent terror attack targeting Christians occurs, we must be as loud and unequivocal in our empathy and condemnation as we our when other communities are attacked, so that all can see we stand together as Americans. Period,” Levin told The Daily Signal in an exclusive statement Wednesday.
The 28-year-old shooter’s motives remain unknown. Nashville police said they recovered a “manifesto” related to the shooting at the school affiliated with a Presbyterian church, but have yet to release the document to the public.
“The Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism unequivocally expresses our revulsion and condemnation of the terror attack directed against Christian children and staff of the Covenant school in Nashville,” Levin wrote Wednesday in a public statement.
“Christian people should not have to live in fear to worship or study their faith in pluralistic democracies,” he added. “Please do not for one second think our adverse positions with some neighbors of faith on various issues in any way changes the fact that we stand firmly with all our Christian friends and neighbors against this increasing scourge of violence.”
Levin cited his center’s recent study showing that hate crimes targeting religious groups rose 27% in major cities in 2022, while attacks against houses of worship also increased.
Citing FBI data, the center’s study notes that anti-Jewish hate crimes increased 20% between 2020 and 2021, anti-Muslim hate crimes increased 38%, anti-Catholic crimes increased 33%, anti-Protestant crimes increased 33%, and crimes against other Christians ticked up 4%.
Hate crimes targeting Sikhs (108%), Buddhists (100%), and atheists (138%) also increased, the report says. Jews (817) and Sikhs (185) experienced the most hate crimes, while Muslims (152) and Catholics (97) faced large numbers of attacks as well.
The FBI data is imperfect, so the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism bolstered it with other sources, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Catholic Vote has tracked 305 attacks on Catholic churches since May 2020, with 144 of them since the May 2022 leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion reversing Roe v. Wade.
“We must act to treat all G-d’s children with dignity and respect irrespective of faith or other individual characteristics and identities,” Levin noted.
Some left-leaning groups also acknowledged the possibility that the Nashville shooter may have targeted Christians for their faith.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations noted the Christian affiliation of the school.
“Given the religious identity of the school and reports of a manifesto, we urge law enforcement authorities to thoroughly investigate the possibility of a bias motive,” CAIR Deputy Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said.
Although the Muslim Public Affairs Council emphasized gun control in its response to the shooting, it also acknowledged that “Christian institutions and churches have been the target of violence and terror and we stand in solidarity with the victims, their families, and the community.”
Most left-leaning activist groups condemned the shooting, but few expressed solidarity with the Christian community.
The Polarization Extremism Research Innovation Lab at American University tweeted that “our hearts are with the Nashville community, the victims, and the survivors. This cannot continue.” It did not mention the Christian affiliation of the school.
Neither the ACLU nor the Southern Poverty Law Center appear to have addressed Monday’s mass shooting at all.
Many left-leaning groups focused on the issue of gun violence, without mentioning the transgender identity of the shooter or the school’s Christian affiliation.
The LGBT activist group Human Rights Campaign said, “Our hearts break for the victims in Nashville,” and attributed the attack to “gun violence.”
“We still don’t know all of the facts about what happened in Nashville,” the influential LGBT activist group added. “We do know that every study available shows that transgender and non-binary people are much more likely to be the victims of violence, rather than the perpetrator of it. Regardless of the reason for this shooting, the use of violence is reprehensible and we renew our call for common-sense gun safety legislation.”
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., called Tuesday for federal authorities to investigate the shooting as a hate crime.
“Yesterday the nation witnessed the vicious murder of small schoolchildren in Nashville, Tennessee,” the senator wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “It is commonplace to call such horrors ‘senseless violence.’ But properly speaking, that is false. Police report that the attack here was ‘targeted’—targeted, that is, against Christians.”
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