Social liberals are using the Orlando shooting massacre to ignite a "war on Christianity," according to prominent conservative columnist David French.
Last weekend, 29-year-old Omar Mateen murdered 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. During the attack Mateen called 911 and pledged support for the Islamic State terror group.
Despite Mateen's stated ideological leanings, some liberal journalists and social commentators are blaming conservative Christians instead, French said in the National Review on Wednesday.
"The principles, such as they exist, seem to be this: If you oppose same-sex marriage or mixed-gender bathrooms, then you not only can't legitimately grieve the loss of gay lives, you're partially responsible for the massacre in Orlando," French added.
"Never mind that all the actual evidence in the case points to Islamic motivations extrapolated from well-known and widely shared interpretations of Shariah law, somehow those darn Baptists are to blame."
Noting his contempt for this position, French further critiqued the claim by questioning whether or not this meant that certain prominent Democratic politicians were also culpable.
"Does this mean that Barack Obama would have been complicit in the massacre if it had happened four years ago, before he publicly changed his stance on same-sex marriage? What about Hillary Clinton? She opposed gay marriage until 2013," French continued.
"[Hillary's] husband signed the Defense of Marriage Act. The Orlando shooter lived for years under Democratic administrations that opposed same-sex marriage. I guess Bill Clinton shares some blame as well."
Although investigators quickly learned that the Orlando shooter was an extremist Muslim with sympathies to IS, some pundits argued that conservative Christians were partly to blame for allegedly creating the homophobic environment that begat Mateen.
For example, the editorial board of The New York Times stated in a position piece that the 49 victims of the massacre were "casualties of a society where hate has deep roots."
"Hate crimes don't happen in a vacuum. They occur where bigotry is allowed to fester, where minorities are vilified and where people are scapegoated for political gain," the Times claimed. "Tragically, this is the state of American politics, driven too often by Republican politicians who see prejudice as something to exploit, not extinguish."
Chase Strangio, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, blamed Mateen's rampage on the Christian Right, claiming that they "created this anti-queer climate."
"You know what is gross — your thoughts and prayers and Islamophobia after you created this anti-queer climate," stated Strangio on Twitter. "The Christian Right has introduced 200 anti-LGBT bills in the last six months and people [are] blaming Islam for this."
French is not the only one to denounce the attempted linkage between conservative Christian social positions and the Orlando gay nightclub shooter.
Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, expressed concern that the blaming of Christian conservatives could lead to troubling efforts at marginalization.
"A man kills 49 people. He calls 911 during the attack to make sure that everyone knows he's a jihadist. And now this is somehow the fault of Christians?" wrote Burk.
"Is Orlando going to be our very own 'Reichstag fire'? Lord, have mercy. I hope not, but the initial signs are not very encouraging. We remember how Nero got away with blaming Christians for the fire that nearly destroyed Rome. This feels eerily similar."