What are the religious views of mass public shooters?

22 May , 2018  

From January 1998 to the present, 69 killers have committed 66 mass public shootings in the US.  Each of these attacks claimed four or more lives.  Of the attackers, four have been identified as Christians, with just three clearly being regular churchgoers.  With 70% of Americans identifying themselves as Christians and over 33% going to church at least once a week, those numbers fall far short of what one might expect.

Five other killers were raised as Christians, but apparently moved away from the faith as they got older.  The media goes into great depth about all sorts of aspects of these killer’s lives and religious views if they can find any information on them.  If interviews with the killer’s family and friends don’t reveal anything about their religious views and the press can’t find the killer’s being affiliated with any religion, at the very least they don’t have significant religious views.

Muslims make up a disproportionately large share of these attackers. Although only about 1 percent of the US population is Muslim, 8.7% of these killers (6 in total) are Muslim. They outnumber Christian mass public shooters.

Three killers are known to have been belligerently anti-Christian, making them nearly as common as their Christian counterparts.  One of those killers perpetrated the 2015 massacre at Oregon Community College, where he reportedly asked people if they were Christian and shot them if they answered in the affirmative.

Year State City/Locality Name of Perpetrator(s) Religion
1998 Arkansas Jonesboro Mitchell Scott Johnson, Andrew Douglas Golden Mitchell Johnson attended church, Christian, childhood dreams of becoming a minister (Source 1, Source 2)
1998 Connecticut Newington Matthew Beck No mention of Religion in any news article
1999 Hawaii Honolulu Byran Koji Uyesugi No mention of Religion in any news article
1999 Texas Fort Worth Larry Gene Ashbrook No mention of Religion in any news article
1999 Georgia Acworth Mark Barton No mention of Religion in any news article
1999 Colorado Columbine Eric Harris/Dylan Klebold No mention of Religion in any news article
2000 Massachusetts Wakefield Michael McDermott No mention of Religion in any news article
2000 Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Richard Scott BAUMHAMMERS No mention of Religion in any news article. Anti-semitic (Source 1)
2001 Illinois Melrose Park William Baker No mention of Religion in any news article
2001 Texas Houston Ki Yung Park No mention of Religion in any news article
2003 Illinois Chicago Salvador Tapia Solis No mention of Religion in any news article
2003 Mississippi Meridian Doug Williams No mention of Religion in any news article
2003 Alabama Huntsville Emanuel Burl Patterson No mention of Religion in any news article
2004 Ohio Columbus Nathan Gale No mention of Religion in any news article
2004 Wisconsin Birchwood Chai Soua Vang No mention of Religion in any news article
2004 Kansas Kansas City Elijah Brown No mention of Religion in any news article
2005 Wisconsin Brookfield Terry Ratzmann Christian. Regular churchgoer “people with whom he had worshiped for years at the Living Church of God,” not a very orthodox Christian church  (Source 1, Source 2)
2005 Minnesota Red Lake Jeffrey Weise No mention of Religion in any news article
2006 Pennsylvania Nickel Mines Charles Carl Roberts IV No mention of Religion in any news article
2006 Washington Seattle Kyle Aaron HUFF No mention of Religion in any news article
2006 California Goleta Jennifer San Marco No mention of Religion in any news article
2007 Colorado Arvada Matthew Murray anti-Christian  (Source 1)
2007 Utah Salt Lake City Sulejman Talovic Muslim  (Source 1)
2007 Nebraska Omaha Robert A. Hawkins No mention of Religion in any news article
2007 Wisconsin Crandon Tyler James Peterson No mention of Religion in any news article
2007 Virginia Blacksburg Seung-Hui Cho No mention of Religion in any news article. Raised Christian, resented parents’ strong Christian faith  (Source 1)
2008 Kentucky Henderson Wesley Neal Higdon No mention of Religion in any news article
2008 Missouri Kirkwood Charles Lee  Thornton No mention of Religion in any news article
2009 Texas Fort Hood Nidal Malik Hasan Muslim
2009 Washington Parkland Maurice Clemmons No mention of Religion in any news article
2009 New York Binghamton Jiverly Wong No mention of Religion in any news article
2009 North Carolina Carthage Robert Stewart No mention of Religion in any news article
2010 Connecticut. Manchester Omar Sheriff Thornton No mention of Religion in any news article
2010 Florida Hialeah Gerardo Regalado No mention of Religion in any news article
2011 Arizona Tuscon Jared Lee Loughner Atheist  (Source 1)
2011 California Seal Beach Scott Evans Dekraai No mention of Religion in any news article
2011 Nevada Carson City Eduardo Sencion No mention of Religion in any news article
2012 Minnesota Minneapolis Andrew Engeldinger No mention of Religion in any news article
2012 Wisconsin Oak Creek Wade Michael Page No mention of Religion in any news article
2012 Colorado Aurora James Eagan Holmes No mention of Religion in any news article
2012 Washington Seattle Ian Lee Stawicki No mention of Religion in any news article
2012 California Oakland One L. Goh No mention of Religion in any news article
2012 Georgia Norcross Jeong Soo Paek No mention of Religion in any news article
2012 Connecticut Newtown Adam Peter Lanza reportedly “became obsessed with religion” while attending Catholic middle school, but “There’s not really been a lot of information related to Nancy or Adam and their religious involvement in the church that I’ve seen.”   (Source 1, Source 2)
2013 D.C. Washington Aaron Alexis Buddhist  (Source 1)
2013 New York Herkimer Kurt Myers No mention of Religion in any news article
2014 Missouri Springfield Scott Goodwin-Bey No mention of Religion in any news article
2014 Washington Marysville Jaylen Fryberg No mention of Religion in any news article
2014 California Alturras Cherie Lash a.k.a Cherie Roads No mention of Religion in any news article
2015 Oregon Roseburg Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer “Not religious, but spiritual.” Allegedly shot victims who answered that they were Christian, anti-Christian  (Source 1)
2015 California San Bernardino Syed Rizwan Farook; Tashfeen Malik Muslim
2015 Tennessee Chattanooga Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez Muslim
2015 South Carolina Charleston Dylann Storm Roof Christian, Lutheran faith, went to church camp and worshiped regularly, reveals pastor as family attend church services and pray for massacre victims  (Source 1, Source 2)

2016 Texas Dallas Micah Xavier Johnson No longer Christian, lost his Christian faith after serving in the military  (Source 1, Source 2)
2016 Washington Burlington Arcan Cetin devout Sunni Muslim  (Source 1)
2016 Florida Orlando Omar Mateen Muslim  (Source 1)
2016 Michigan Kalamazoo Jason B. Dalton No mention of Religion in any news article
2017 Nevada Las Vegas Stephen Craig Paddock no religious affiliation  (Source 1)
2017 California Rancho Tehama Kevin Janson Neal No mention of Religion in any news article
2017 Florida Orlando John Robert Neumann, Jr. No mention of Religion in any news article
2017 Florida Fort Lauderdale Esteban Santiago raised in a Christian home, but doesn’t appear to have been going to church. “His brother told him to go to a church”   (Source 1)
2017 Texas Sutherland Springs Devin Patrick Kelley vocally anti-Christian/anti-religious  (Source 1)
2018 Florida Parkland Nikolas J. Cruz No mention of Religion in any news article
2018 Pennsylvania Melcroft Timothy O’Brien Smith No mention of Religion in any news article
2018 Tennessee Antioch Travis Reinking raised in a Christian home, but no evidence the 29-year-old had continued going to church  (Source 1)
2018 Texas Santa Fe Dimitrios Pagourtzis Greek Orthodox church  (Source 1)


2 Responses

  1. David Lewis says:

    Can we really gather much insight to the religions of mass shooters when a vast majority of them, their religious beliefs are unknown? In the end, does it really matter?

    • johnrlott says:

      The point is that if your family and friends don’t know anything about your religious views and the press can’t find you being affiliated with any religion, at the very least you don’t have significant religious views.

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