Anyone who is familiar with Bill O’Reilly knows that he really doesn’t like atheists. One of his more popular gimmicks is the “War on Christmas”, where he highlights examples of how those vile, evil atheists just won’t shut up and allow Christianity to propagate itself with impunity.
On this past Thursday’s episode of his show, “The O’Reilly Factor”, Bill O’Reilly focused on the recent, tragic shooting of WBDJ reporter Alison Parker, and cameraman Adam Ward. He blamed a “decline in spirituality” and a “rise in nihilism” for the shooting. He mentioned how a belief in Christianity is on the decline, while secularism is on the rise, all as a lead up to playing the “you can’t be moral if you don’t believe in God” card.
When one of his guests, Karen Rusk, disagreed with his position and accurately pointed out than many people with spiritual beliefs commit homicide, O’Reilly snapped, “Can you point to one?” Realizing that he had just stuck his foot into that huge, gaping maw of his, he immediately corrected himself, “Outside of the jihadists”, he added – a prime example of special pleading. To Rusk’s credit, she didn’t let him slide. She asked him why we should exclude jihadists, but he just ignored her and, in typical O’Reilly fashion, eventually told her to shut up. While, in the beginning, O’Reilly kept mentioning nihilism or nihilists, I knew it was only a matter of time before he’d stop with the word games.
“Every single murderer, over 40 years, that I’ve covered in these circumstances, has been either atheistic, agnostic; no religious basis at all. Tonight, on this program, I asked you a very simple question – Can you point to one person that committed mass murder recently that had a religious background. You cannot, alright. There is a common thread, in my opinion.”
When Rusk attempted to interject to reassert her previous statement about mental illness, O’Reilly cut her off and stated, “I’m dealing with facts here.” This was immediately after he had just finished saying that it was his opinion.
So, let’s see what the facts are. O’Reilly wanted her to name one person, with a religious background, who has recently committed a mass murder.
Well, there’s the South Carolina shooter (I refuse to use their names), who was a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Columbia, SC according to Rev. Tony Metze of that church. Also, there’s the Aurora movie theater shooter, who attended Penasquitos Lutheran Church in San Diego, CA, before moving to Aurora, CO, according to Jerry Borgie, a senior pastor there. And guess what? The WBJD shooter, the very same shooter that Bill O’Reilly was talking about in his segment, faxed a suicide note to ABC News after he killed Parker and Ward, saying that Jehovah told him to act. He asked for one name. I just gave three, including the loser he was talking about in his very own segment.
So, what about the “lack of spirituality” being responsible for mass shootings? Well, I would contend that most people who use the term “spirituality” never adequately defined what that even means. From my experience, though, most people seem to relate the term with having something to do with the existence of some kind of deity. I feel it is perfectly same to presume that O’Reilly is using “lack of spirituality” as code for atheism – the absence of a belief that any deities exist.
If that’s the case, then there are several other countries who have a much, much higher atheist population than the United States. So, if O’Reilly’s assertion is accurate – that not believing in god(s) is what motivates mass shootings – then it is only logical to presume that the higher the atheist population in a country, the more mass shootings they should have. Let’s find out.
First, I had to decide what standard to use to determine the population of atheists in a country. When doing so, the inevitable nonsensical arguments will spring up about how atheists and agnostics are different (they are not; you either believe or you do not). Rather than deal with all of that, I decided to go with a more hard standard. In 2012, WIN-Gallup International released a survey titled, “Global Index of Religion and Atheism.” In this survey, they asked respondents, “Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious persons or a convinced atheist?”
Now, if you are like me, you will take issue with the term “convinced atheist”. I am not “convinced” that a god of some sort doesn’t exist, I simply don’t accept the claims being made that one (or more) does exist due to the inability of the claimants to meet their burden of proof. However, I decided to put that to the side in this instance because I don’t think it is relevant for this particular exercise.
In this survey, 60% of the United States said that they were a religious person, while only 5% said that they were “convinced” atheists. Furthermore, between 2000 and 2012, the U.S. had 133 mass shootings. A mass shooting is defined as a shooting in which there are 4 or more deaths, according to the FBI.
The country with the highest amount of “convinced” atheists was China, with 47%. Between 2000 and 2012, China has had 4 mass shootings. In 2nd place is Japan, with “convinced” atheists being at 31%. Japan has not had a mass shooting since 1938. 3rd place goes to the Czech Republic with 30% identifying as “convinced” atheists. They’ve had 1 mass shooting between 2000 and 2012. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.
So much for dealing in facts, Bill.