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Hot take: Was Tennessee church shooter just another Christian terrorist?

The fatal church shooting in Antioch, Tenn., Sunday has all but disappeared from the headlines, but ThinkProgress has found a way to keep the story alive.


That’s not a bad question, on the condition you cut it off early: “Why is no one talking about the Tennessee church shooter?” But what is this about the shooter’s religion? Was the Sudanese immigrant … gasp … a Christian?

For what it’s worth, The Tennessean began its follow-up coverage with a take similar to that of ThinkProgress:

In 2012, Emanuel K. Samson greeted a Sunday morning with warm enthusiasm.

“Rise & shine,” he wrote on Facebook in January of that year. “It’s church time!”

It had become a typical refrain. For years, Samson wrote regularly of his Christian faith and his excitement about going to church.

ThinkProgress, obviously, took its take quite a few steps further, digging all the back on Samson’s apparent Facebook page to 2011 to find posts about Christianity and churchgoing. He tweeted about Christ back in October 2011, so obviously that leads to this train of thought:


None of this means that Samson necessarily leaned on his Christian faith as justification for the mass shooting. There isn’t enough information about his motives to draw that conclusion.

However, the United States has seen a recent spate of domestic terror incidents specifically tied to fundamentalist Christianity, as well as the rise of white supremacist “Christian Identity” groups and individuals who, as ThinkProgress detailed in 2014, “spout scripture while engaging in horrifying acts of violence.”

So what ThinkProgress is saying is that because Samson liked “The Passion of the Christ” on Facebook several years ago, investigators should check if Samson is “the latest in a string of professed Christians to target civilian populations in the United States”?

For what it’s worth, Samson’s post from just before the shooting read, “Become the creator instead of what’s created. Whatever you say, goes” and “Everything you’ve ever doubted or made to be believe as false, is real. & vice versa, B.” And it appears Samson’s current concerns had more to do with Black Lives Matter than “Left Behind: The Movie”:


By the way, despite the shooting, the church is holding services Wednesday night in the fellowship hall.

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