Greg Zanis drove 16 hours from Aurora Illinois to Aurora Colorado in order to set up 12 crosses in tribute to the 12 victims of James Holmes.
Denver Colorado resident Arthur Blessitt also arrived soon after the attacks at the Century 16 theater, carrying the same 12-foot tall cross that he has already carried to every nation in the world, over 40 thousand miles in the last 44 years.
These Christians, and others, haven’t asked to which religions, if any, the victims belonged.
Zanis has said that the crosses he built are for the families of the deceased, and has said that they are welcome to take the crosses. He doesn’t know, or seem to care, that to some people this might be presumptuous, and perhaps insulting.
There are atheists who are making hay out of this – and I won’t be joining them.
These are people who are dealing with tragedy, and who will do so in their own way. Whether it is by carrying a big cross, or by bringing little crosses to lay at a memorial. I think there is little difference between this, and the laying of flowers, or a teddy bear, or photos or a candle at the scene of a tragedy.
Yes, there are those few religious people who have taken a moment to use this tragedy to build themselves up. The always odious Bryan Fischer has used the Aurora shooting as an opportunity to attack the LGBT community and lay blame on those who have “turned away from God“, including the ACLU and the Supreme Court.
Are Blessitt and Zanis riding this tragedy for personal fame? I don’t know, and I haven’t cared to find out.
But I think the majority of Christians are just trying to deal with this tragedy – in whatever way makes sense to them.
Ultimately this tragedy is senseless. As an atheist, I know there are people who are not able to feel empathy for others, people to whom sympathy is a foreign emotion. These people are exactly the types of outliers we would see if we charted the bell curve of evolved human compassion. They lie outside of the norm. What makes sense to people like Holmes wouldn’t make any sense at all to most of us.
You use the tools you have for the job at hand. If all you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail. If your tool is religion, you’ll deal with tragedy using religion. If your tool is rational thought, empathy, sympathy for others, then you will deal with tragedy in that manner.
Speaking just from my experience, neither religion, nor rational thought is equal to real grief. Only time lessens tragedy.