More of the Right Wing on Virginia Tech and ‘Secular Humanism’

After American Family Radio and Chuck Norris paved the way, the floodgates have apparently opened for religious-right commentators to blame the tragic mass shooting at Virginia Tech on their political bugbears, such as (in Norris’s words) the “secular progressive agenda.”

In an op-ed in the Greeley, Colorado Tribune, local pastor Steven Grant meditates on “the deeper questions and overall trend patterns” surrounding the shooting and traces the “[e]scalation of violence and a number of other social ills” to a single point: the 1961 Supreme Court case that banned government-run prayer in public schools. For evidence, Grant turns to David Barton, the GOP operative and crackpot pseudo-historian whom Grant laughably calls “perhaps the nation’s leading historian.”

Writes Grant, the 1961 case

began an assault on Christianity, by banning prayer and later other elements of Christian study from public schools. The religion of secular humanism was protected and allowed, but Christ, prayer, the posting of the Ten Commandments and other Christian documents were hidden from view. …

According to David Barton, perhaps the nation’s leading historian (, there was an immediate increase in societal problems, including violent crime, divorce, unwed pregnancies, dropping test scores at all academic levels, etc. But like the elephant in the closet that nobody talks about, this has been judiciously avoided in conversation about the Virginia Tech massacre. …

The shooter at Virginia Tech was a madman. However, he had also been raised on a solid diet of secular humanism which teaches no moral absolutes. “If it feels good, do it,” is one of the many mantras he ingested. Consequently he did what felt good, and innocent people died as a result. Today, we cannot condemn his actions unless we judge what we fed him as a society. What we sow, we also reap.

Virginia Armstrong, national chair of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, similarly categorizes the Virginia Tech shooting as among the “graphic results of America’s Culture War” and “the deadly struggle between the Humanistic worldview and the Judeo-Christian worldview.” She fingers “activist/liberal federal judges” who “have long been fighting to expunge every vestige of God from our nation’s classrooms and public life” as the cause: According to Armstrong, the “teaching of evolutionism” leads to “youths behav[ing] like animals” and reproductive choice leads to “our youths conclude that they, too, have the right to kill the children around them.” Like Grant, Armstrong writes that the Virginia Tech shooting was a matter of reaping what has been sown:

We rightly grieve over the losses of Columbine High School, Virginia Tech, and the abortion chambers still spewing out cauldrons of innocent American blood. We should also grieve over a major cause — America’s activist/liberal federal judges who have sown the wind, while our children reap the whirlwind. Surely it is time for us to CURB THE COURTS and reclaim our children and our country.

Finally, radio talker Rush Limbaugh simply declared that the shooter was an archetypical liberal. “If this Virginia Tech shooter had an ideology, what do you think it was?” he asked. “This guy had to be a liberal. You start railing against the rich and all this other — this guy’s a liberal. He was turned into a liberal somewhere along the line. So it’s a liberal that committed this act.” Lest we get the wrong idea, Limbaugh dismissed the idea “that I’m attacking liberalism by comparing this guy to them. … I am making no extrapolation; I’m just pointing it out.” He later added, “I do believe that it was liberalism that got a hold of this guy and made him hate things, professors and this sort of thing.”