Editorial: Where are the interfaith vigils after church massacres?

After the shooting at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh, there were vigils around the country where people of all races and faiths showed solidarity.

After 50 Muslims were murdered in New Zealand, interfaith events were held at mosques, and after the Poway shooting, synagogues around the country held Shabbat services in solidarity.

And of course, there were the memorable demonstrations of solidarity with the Christian community after the Easter day bombings in Sri Lanka — if by memorable one means remembering that those vigils never happened.

Why not?

Even with the official death toll being reduced to just over 250, that is still five times New Zealand, and four times Pittsburgh, New Zealand and Poway combined.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have looked around the region for Christian solidarity events similar to those for the Jewish and Muslim communities, but came up empty.

Are attacks on Christians that insignificant? Or does it have something to do with bias about who was targeted and who is doing the targeting?

After Pittsburgh and New Zealand, there was endless analysis of why the perpetrators felt they could act, and how the current culture and climate embolden white nationalism.

After Sri Lanka, initial media reports spoke of the country’s recent history of Buddhist violence, and please don’t speculate that it was Islamic terrorism.

Once it became more apparent that Islamists were responsible and the media were forced to report that, much of the coverage focused instead on fears of an anti-Muslim backlash. Precious little attention has been given to the question of why Islamists would attack Christians in churches in a place like Sri Lanka.

And let’s not forget the largely-ignored massive Islamist targeting of Christians in Nigeria or the current-day slave trade in Libya.

Closer to home, after the school shooting near Denver, unlike previous incidents there has been very little talk about the shooters. Had they been wearing MAGA hats, there would be an endless stream of commentary. But on social media they were hostile to Christians and hated President Trump, and one of them was born female but now identifies as male. Can’t pin the right-wing template on them, so let’s move on.

We’re repeatedly warned of the dangers of extremism from the right, that it has been the most lethal and headline-grabbing (this issue’s exhibit: Arkansas Tech), and it has. But there has been a largely unreported rash of anti-Jewish assaults in New York, largely by people of color. When that is brought up, it is explained that they are upset over growing gentrification and identify Jews as being behind it.

Oh, well, as long as there is a good excuse for beating up Jews.

Despite the perceptions, extremists on the right are not rising exponentially. They generally are well-rooted weeds in our national garden, mostly known, on the fringe and generally shunned. We’re just more aware of them now.

But it is the noxious Jew-hatred taking cover under the anti-Zionism umbrella that is spreading much wider, especially on the left. And from the New York Times to the college campus, even in the halls of Congress, many things formerly seen as beyond the pale are now mainstreamed.

When David Duke says it, he’s a nut nobody takes seriously. When it is said on campus, those who criticize it are accused of trying to silence dissenting voices and stifle free expression.

With rising anti-Semitism, many Jews say they feel isolated. Muslims have to deal with Islamophobia. Perhaps people feel compelled, when Pittsburgh or New Zealand happen, to remind these small minorities in our society that they are not alone. Perhaps Christians are so secure in their majority here that expressions of solidarity after something like Sri Lanka are unnecessary.

But simple humanity should demand otherwise.

(By Larry Brook, editor)