Religion Unplugged

Double standard? Treatment of Boulder suspect’s religion raises the question

By Bobby Ross Jr. | Religion Unplugged

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Another week.

Another mass shooting.

Another 21-year-old suspect.

Last week’s news coverage of Robert Aaron Long, charged in the deaths of eight people — including six women of Asian descent — at three Atlanta-area spas, focused on his ties to a Southern Baptist congregation.

Long’s arrest sparked a barrage of stories and columns on evangelical theology, racism and “purity culture,” including a Religion News Service op-ed headlined “Blaming Christians for the Atlanta shootings isn’t persecution, it’s prosecution.”

On the other hand, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa’s Muslim background has figured less prominently — so far — in reporting on the suspect in Monday’s massacre that claimed 10 lives at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.

In profiling the suspect, some major news organizations haven’t mentioned his religious affiliation at all. RNS has emphasized concerns that Alissa’s arrest might ramp up “Islamophobia” and spark hate crimes as Muslims gather in congregational settings. (It’s a familiar storyline, going at least back to 9/11.)

“I think there definitely is a double standard,” said Warren Smith, an evangelical who serves as president of the independent charitable giving watchdog

Read the full column.

This column appears in the online magazine Religion Unplugged.

RELATED: Race, religion draw focus after killings of eight, including six Asian women

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