Thanks to Pharyngula, I’ve learned that the nutcase who shot up a gym in California wasn’t just a nut, he was a religious nut, who wrote this in his online diary:
“Maybe soon, I will see God and Jesus. At least that is what I was told. Eternal life does NOT depend on works. If it did, we will all be in hell. Christ paid for EVERY sin, so how can I or you be judged BY GOD for a sin when the penalty was ALREADY paid. People judge but that does not matter. I was reading the Bible and The Integrity of God beginning yesterday, because soon I will see them.”
What should be the reaction to this, if you’re an atheist who’s interested in being polite?
Well, obviously gloating would be impolite (not to mention kind of a dick move), and it’s equally impolite to go out of your way to bring it up as evidence of religion’s dangers. I’d say a better reaction is to save it up. Don’t harp on it, but don’t ignore it either.
Remember it, and keep it in your memory, just in case you find yourself faced with some religious nut who goes off on atheists for being immoral or whatever — particularly if he starts talking about how the kids who shot up Columbine High School were purportedly atheists.
At that point, the polite and respectful atmosphere that etiquette strives to maintain is already out the window. So you’re not causing a breach of etiquette by pointing out (politely if possible) that homicidal-suicidal nutcases can have all sorts of worldviews. And while you’re at it, you might want to make sure he’s not still buying into the false myth about the girl who was shot for saying “yes” when asked if she believed in God.
(cartoon via Chris Madden)