I've been slogging through a post taking another look at Pope Francis I as he enters his third year as the Supreme Pontiff, but the murder of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill demands a response. I disavow this act of bigotry. Violence is not justified by atheism or even anti-theism. I will happily do violence to your default assumptions about religion, but not to your body, your rights or your freedom. There is no justification for killing someone because of their religious beliefs. However, it seems that the primary motive in this case was just as petty:
Police said in a statement Wednesday morning that a dispute about parking in the neighborhood of rented condominiums may have led to the incident. “Our preliminary investigation indicates that the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking. Hicks is cooperating with investigators,” Lt. Joshua Mecimore, a police spokesman, said.Do I really have to express just how stupid it is to end anyone's life over parking?
Nevertheless, I don't think we can rule out religion just yet. Since this idiot has been a fairly vocal atheist the press is naturally digging into what appears to be the first major incident of "atheist violence" since Pol Pot. And I suspect there really was an element of religious bigotry involved, but if it was informed by either his atheism or his anti-theism I can't see it. Why target Muslims in a region dominated by Christians? Back in October I talked about the dangers of anti-Islamic rhetoric. I suspect this is my prediction coming true. "So let's stop pretending that Islam is the great threat of the Twenty-First Century and buying into the culture of fear that's allowing Christian extremists to undermine secularism in the West. If they succeed it's not Islam that will take over."