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When Christians are their own worst enemies

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
updated 2:17 PM EDT, Tue July 24, 2012
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, right, said the theater slaughter is related to
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, right, said the theater slaughter is related to "ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ Granderson: People who call themselves Christians can hurt the faith the most
  • LZ: Falwell blamed ACLU for 9/11; a pastor said gay parade caused Hurricane Katrina
  • Now, evangelical said some who died in theater shooting were going to hell, LZ writes
  • LZ: This kind of rhetoric violates Christ's commandment to love and simple logic

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs

(CNN) -- For all of the rhetoric about Christianity being under attack in this country, oftentimes it feels no one does a better job of hurting Christianity than the people who call themselves Christians. Especially after a national tragedy.

For example, after the September 11 terror attacks, Jerry Falwell blamed the ACLU, as well as feminists, gays and lesbians, for lifting God's veil of protection.

After Hurricane Katrina, Pastor John Hagee said he believed God caused the largest natural disaster in U.S. history to stop a gay pride parade in New Orleans.

Bodies were still being recovered from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti when Pat Robertson said the country was struck because it made a "pact to the devil."

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

And just this weekend, as the nation is trying to heal from the theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado, Jerry Newcombe, a spokesman for the evangelical group Truth in Action, took time out of his day to inform mourners that some of their loved ones were going to hell.

His comments were made after U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, said he believed the shootings happened because Christianity is under attack.

He then wondered why "you know, with all those people in the theater, was there nobody that was carrying? That could have stopped this guy more quickly?" Carrying a gun, of course.

That's right -- a congressman who sits on the House Judiciary Committee is talking about a shootout in a dark room filled with tear gas and panicked, innocent people. And we ask ourselves why Congress is so dysfunctional.

This past winter,Sen. Rick Santorum, a devout Roman Catholic who made his faith central to his presidential bid, blamed higher education for the declining number of young people who identify as Christians. This might have struck young people looking at Santorum's three degrees as ... curious.

Dare I say, hypocritical? Hysterical? Dumb?

As in ignoring that Haiti sits on two seismic fault lines, but choosing to go with the pact-with-the-devil-to-explain-the-earthquake kind of dumb.

Of course, people of various faiths, agnostics and atheists make questionable statements all the time. The difference is this mantra of an "attack on religious freedom" is most often repeated by politicians and religious leaders of the Christian faith, usually when a political discussion about marriage or women's reproductive health is taking place.

I'm fine with that.

But I have a problem when a disaster claims innocent victims or causes a great deal of pain and loss, and instead of showing compassion, these so-called leaders of faith say the gays did it. Or the liberals. Or that gem Falwell served up -- the ACLU. That kind of rhetoric not only violates Christ's greatest commandment -- to love -- but is completely illogical.

As a Christian, I understand the importance of faith. But Jesus did not say you have to be illogical or inhumane to be a person of faith. Newcombe and others like him would remember that, I doubt he would have chosen the day after the Aurora shooting to tell mourners their loved ones are burning in hell.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

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