The white supremacist agenda has been motivating these shootings.

Another horrific mass shooting has occurred in the United States, this time in the quiet city of El Paso. Presently, 22 people have been killed and another two dozen or so have been injured. However, another dimension to the shootings has emerged beyond the all-too-familiar white supremacist agenda that has been motivating these shootings. This time, the Texas shooter, Patrick Crusius, has identified himself as God-loving Christian.

That very idea calls into question what it means to be a Christian and how faith can intermingle with nationalism in the modern day. Since the United States has featured Christianity as a major religion since its inception, specifically Protestantism, there is a continual thought that being American means being Christian. Thus, it’s easy for people like the El Paso shooter to conflate religion and whiteness, also thought to be the deserving primary color in the country. These people think those who are white and Christian belong in the country, while others do not.

It is believed the shooter was targeting Latinos. Nearly 70% of Latin Americans are Catholic. How could someone who says they are a devout Christian manage to create such a disconnect that they were able to pull the trigger onto others who are probably Christians?

It seems clear that this individual believed that Christianity was tied to the national identity of being an American. For that reason, Christian leaders are coming out and condemning Christian nationalists who think that this faith should be placed above all others in the country. As a nation of many faiths, it can be hard for some Christians to imagine a country that is not privileged for them. So, when conversations about removing “In God We Trust” or “One Nation, Under God” from public places come to the forefront, it seems more like an attack, rather than a reversal, of the privileges that have been granted to Christians.

The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty released a letter stating, among other things, that “As Christians, we must speak in one voice condemning Christian nationalism as a distortion of the gospel of Jesus and a threat to American democracy.” Otherwise, people will continually believe that Christian and American are one and the same, and that anyone who doesn’t fit the bill is not only different, but a threat to their existence.

At this point, it’s hard to ignore the results of those perceived threats, as body counts rise in the U.S. along with anti-immigrant, white supremacist, and Christian nationalist sentiments.

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