The Pittsburgh Shooting Was an Attack on a Minority, Not a Sign of ‘Anti-Religiosity’

This past weekend’s mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh was unspeakable, but unfortunately not unimaginable. Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States by some counts increased by 57 percent last year, the largest surge in nearly four decades of tracking. The FBI’s most recent reports show that the number of overall hate crimes increased for a second straight year — the first time that has happened in a decade. During this period, hate crimes targeting Muslims doubled.

Yet, when asked for comment, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway sought to reframe the anti-Semitic tragedy to bolster the administration’s policy goals, claiming that the attack, along with one in a South Carolina church three years earlier, could be attributed to a broader pattern of “anti-religiosity in this country.”

Let’s be clear: This was not an attack on religiosity writ large. This was an attack on a specific religious minority. Innocent individuals were gunned down not merely because they were people of faith. In Pittsburgh, they were gunned down because they were Jewish; in Charleston, because they were black.

By now, it comes as no surprise that the Trump administration’s view of religious liberty is a narrow one. After all, blocking travel by individuals from Muslim-majority countries isn’t religious freedom — it’s religious intolerance. Allowing businesses to use their religious beliefs to deny their employees birth control coverage isn’t religious liberty — it’s discrimination. Preferencing the religious beliefs of hospitals and other health care providers over the health and well-being of patients, including LGBT individuals, women, and people of color, isn’t religious liberty — it too is discrimination. The list goes on and on.

Hatred across faiths poses a threat to our democracy and our ideals, as does an administration that fuels xenophobia and animosity. But we cannot lose sight of the core American values of religious pluralism, equality, and inclusion.

As we grieve the lives so cruelly cut short in Pittsburgh, we need to reject the administration’s attempts to undermine true religious freedom. We also need to hold it accountable when it tries to use religion as a license to discriminate and harm others.

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David Shaffer

When Blacks or Muslims are targeted, we don't see masses of articles pointing out that Jews are also attacked (although somehow remarks condemning Israel for its treatment of Palestinians tend to surface). We don't see articles rationalizing such attacks by pointing out that the crime rate among Blacks is disproportionately high or that Muslim extremists have been responsible for murders; but when Jews are attacked we are often reminded of Israel's imperfections as well as being reminded that other groups are attacked (sometimes for their sexual preferences). If you treat attacks on Jews differently from attacks on others, you are antisemitic.

Anonymous

Shimon Peres, Israeli prime minister was assassinated in 1995 by a Jewish Israeli. He had received the Nobel Peace Prize and was highly regarded as a leader of Israel. When lies come home to roost, the concept of anti-semitism is a catch-all phrase -- but 'Old Testament' references were about God punishing his own for worshiping false gods. Who are you that you know better?

John Tovar

When will words like"Terrorist", "Epidemic" and "Genocide" be introduced when describing the carnage that has been happening across America?

Anonymous

The ACLU should defend a person's right to buy a cake for a gay wedding wherever they chose, as well as a right to practice religion and live without fear of being killed for your beliefs. Somehow we all just don't get this. Discrimination wouldn't exist if we would all accept that each of us is entitled to our beliefs and to live in peace together. When we all start to respect and believe this, perhaps all of the violence and hate crimes will diminish. No one should have a right to say I will not make your wedding cake because you're gay, or I hate you collectively because of your beliefs. Each person is an individual and there are good and bad in every religion, ethnicity and sexual preference. Why can't we realise this and look at people as individuals before we make these outlandish assumptions. When you have a president calling immigrants evil, murderers and rapists, and saying women don't want them because they're afraid, how can we ever learn to accept that we are all human beings and deserve the respect and compassion from all. Each of us could be in the same situation at some time, being subjected to hate crimes because one person doesn't agree. What has happened to this country?

Your religious beliefs do not entitle you to act outside the law.
Your beliefs about other people's religious beliefs do not entitle you to act outside the law.
Your right to hold your religious beliefs yourself, and the protection from those who would try to take away your rights as a law-abiding person of faith, is protected by the constitution.
Do not support the xenophobic murder of others, regardless of whether or not they are in the minority. This is a hate crime against people of a specific religion, and that should NOT be tolerated, no matter the faith. We cannot ignore or erase the fact that this was a hate crime, plain and simple, as professed by the shooter on a PUBLIC twitter account. We, as a nation, must not deny facts.

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