I grew up Catholic, and I’m grateful for it. I don’t consider myself Catholic anymore, but I think Jesus is a cool dude with some pretty swank ideas. He’s definitely in my Top 5 Favorite All-Time People, after my mom and Chris Pine.
I’m opening with that disclaimer because this is not an attack on all Christians (ugh, the fact that I even have to point that out is annoying) but rather stating an obvious fact: Mark Anthony Conditt has a Christian survivalist background. He is not a terrorist (a suicide bomber for Christ’s sake) in spite of being a Christian; there’s a very good chance he’s a terrorist because he was Christian.
The more his family protested that he was such a nice Christian boy — and almost every quote from a relative mentioned his religion — the fishier it got. What did being Christian have to do with anything? Haven’t we seen Christians blow up women’s health centers? Haven’t we seen Christians close the doors of their megachurches to hurricane victims? Haven’t we seen Christians defend throwing their children out of their homes because of their sexuality?
Haven’t we seen Christians support Donald Trump’s nativist policies in droves while happily ignoring his decidedly un-Christian extracurricular activities?
Christian is not synonymous with goodness.
And Christian survivalism, which we are now hearing is a big part of Conditt’s background, is an extreme version of Christianity. It is a belief system where Christians are “prepared” for any situation, from natural disasters to government takeovers to the end of days.
You add “72 virgins waiting for you in heaven” to that description and it sounds pretty darn terrifying.
Conditt himself was a member of RIOT (Righteous Invasion of Truth), a home-schooled Christian survivalist group for teenagers that focused on Bible study and gun skills.
Christian survivalists are the ones who insist they need AR-15’s – you know, to be prepared for anything, even at the expense of the well-being of our schoolchildren. They carry knives around “just in case” and believe non-Christians are doomed to a life of eternal damnation.
So when news outlets interview other members of RIOT, and those people say “he seemed so normal,” my bullshit meter goes off. Oh, the other home-schooled kids who prepared for the end times because Jesus told them to think Conditt was a “normal” kid? GO FUCKING FIGURE.
Are we asking the childhood friends of any Islamic extremists what they were like as kids? Are we asking their parents if they were surprised? No. And rightfully so. It would be an insult to the victims.
Conditt was a Christian terrorist, and anyone not surprised by his actions also lived in that same extremist bubble that created him.