Pundits across the political spectrum have been quick to use the weekend's tragic mass shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater as a means of pushing various threads of partisan rhetoric.
Bryan Fischer, the oft-quoted mouthpiece of the American Family Association, was quick to jump on the bandwagon, tying the mass shooting first to a general breakdown in Judeo-Christian values, and most recently to the public school system's teaching of evolution.
The Raw Story published comments made Monday by Fischer, the director of issues analysis for the fundamentalist Christian organization, during his daily radio show, "Focal Point." In an impressive feat of extrapolation, Fischer linked the massacre to “the liberals’ way” of teaching the theory of evolution and preventing prayer in schools.
Fischer wondered aloud if bestselling author and California magachurch evangelical Reverend Rick Warren was referring to the alleged shooter, James Holmes, when he tweeted, “When students are taught they are no different from animals, they act like it."
"If this tweet was connected to the shooting, to this James Holmes, to the one that killed the 12 and wounded the 58 in this theater, it would be appropriate,” Fischer said.
Fischer went on to blame Holmes' murderous tendencies on Charles' Darwin's principle of survival of the fittest.
"[Holmes] sees himself as evolutionarily advanced just like he was taught in school about Darwin, that this is how natural selection works," Fischer said.
Fischer then moved on to also blame the killings on the end of organized prayer in schools. The Supreme Court prohibited state-sponsored prayer in schools in two landmark cases in the early 1960s: Engel v. Vitale in 1962 and Abington School District v. Schempp one year later.
"We have spent 60 years telling God to get lost,” Fischer said. "What if every single day in [James Holmes'] educational process, there had been readings from the word of God ... Who knows if things could have been different. But we’ve tried it the other way. The point of my column, we’ve tried it the liberals’ way for 60 years now. What do we got? We have massacres in Aurora.”
Fischer did not mention the fact that James Holmes' family belonged to the Penasquitos Lutheran Church for about ten years, as originally reported by the Associated Press. Holmes' mother still attends services there regularly.
The American Family Association is no stranger to controversy. In comments made during a segment of the AFA Journal program on Friday and reported by Right Wing Watch, AFA news director Fred Jackson, co-host Teddy James and guest Jerry Newcombe of the Truth in Action Ministries suggested that violent incidents in America, including in Aurora, were evidence of God's judgement.
"The AFA Journal has been dealing with denominations that no longer believe in the God of the Bible," Jackson said. "They no longer believe that Jesus is the only way of salvation, they teach that God is OK with homosexuality, this is just increasing more and more. It is mankind shaking its fist at the authority of God."
"And God will not be silent when he’s mocked, and we need to remember that," James said, to which Jackson replied, "We are seeing his judgment. You know, some people talk about ‘God’s judgment must be just around the corner,’ we are seeing it."