Several shooters went into two mosques in Christchurch (one of New Zealand’s largest cities) and opened fire, killing indiscriminately. Nearly 50 are dead — a number expected to rise — and many more injured in the worst terrorist attack New Zealand has suffered.
It goes without saying that no one should be targeted because of their religion or irreligion. The Freedom From Religion Foundation condemns all hate crimes and deplores gun violence, which, unfortunately, occurs on a daily basis in the United States.
Four people have been arrested. Some outlets report that the shooters livestreamed the massacre and that one shooter (whom we will not name) wrote a ranting, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim manifesto rambling about “white genocide.” As the Washington Post notes, the manifesto’s “title, ‘The Great Replacement,’ echoes the rallying cry of, among others, the torch-bearing protesters who marched in Charlottesville in 2017.”
We know this attack, almost certainly religiously motivated, will be met with more calls for “thoughts and prayers,” but prayers cannot stop mass shootings. As a Guardian writer opined: “Your thoughts and prayers will not save our lives.” Or, as FFRF’s Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel has written, “Don’t pray. Do.”
Violence of any sort is abhorrent. But violence is particularly repellant when it targets those who are different — whether the difference is of color, sex, religion, nationality or culture. That’s what makes the Christchurch killings especially repugnant and frightening.