Rick Santorum Calls Charleston Shooting An Attack On Christians

Rick Santorum has called the Charleston shooting, which took place in the historic Emanuel AME church, an attack on Christianity, despite the evidence that it was motivated not by religion, but by race. However, Santorum’s social media following isn’t taking it quietly: hundreds are flocking to his pages and piling on to let him know just how wrong he is.

On Rick Santorum’s Facebook page, a short message expresses sympathy and offers prayers to the victims. The message stops short of suggesting that the attack was religiously motivated, but does hint at it, focusing nearly half of the message on the fact that the attack took place in a church, rather than on the actual motivation.

“The tragic and senseless murders that occurred in the sanctuary of Emanuel AME Church were the acts of pure evil. To kill in a place of peace and in the House of the Lord is revolting and cowardly. My wife Karen and I extend our deepest sympathies to the victims of this despicable horror. We pray for the victims and for their families to find peace, solace, and comfort during this difficult time. And we pray for law enforcement and the entire Charleston community as they come together through the ties that bind them together.”

However, Santorum’s Facebook post is only a small portion of what he’s had to say on the matter. He spoke Thursday in an interview on the Joe Piscopo show, and there his message was much more emphatic. Santorum called the shooting an attack on religious liberty, ignoring the racial motivation and injecting his own agenda.

“It’s obviously a crime of hate. We don’t know the rationale, but what other rationale could there be? You’re sort of lost that somebody could walk into a Bible study in a church and indiscriminately kill people.”

Santorum went on to say that prayer is important at this time, but hinted that this attack demonstrates that prayer can be dangerous.

“[W]e’re now seeing assaults on our religious liberty we’ve never seen before.”

Rick Santorum isn’t the first to claim that the attack was directed at Christians, rather than African-Americans, either.

Still, the facts fly in the face of Santorum’s conclusion: the shooter, Dylann Roof, who, according to CNN has been apprehended in North Carolina, made it clear that his attack was motivated by a stance based in white supremacy.

He told the victims as much, leaving survivors to share his words.

“You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”

It’s pretty clear that by “you” he didn’t mean Christians. However, in case it isn’t clear enough, he was more explicit before that, announcing that he was present “to shoot black people.”

If Rick Santorum spun the massacre as an attack on faith in order to pander to audiences, though, it was a poor move. On his Facebook post, commenters are letting that be known.

Trying to hijack this tragedy and portray it as an attack on Christianity is a shameful and vile act. Santorum, you claim to be a moral leader, but there is nothing right, moral, or honest about mis-labeling what happened in Charleston. It was a purely racist crime.

You should be ashamed for trying to use this tragedy to foster your religious persecution complex. You call yourself a Christian but your words show nothing but hypocrisy.

Among hundreds of similar responses, Santorum has received a very small number of messages of agreement and support. If he’s seeking the support of Americans, it might be a good time for Rick Santorum to issue a correction or clarification.

[Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images]