In today’s New York Times there is a front-page story, “Religion, Abuse and Rage in Colorado’s Suspect’s Trial,” that tries very hard to establish a connection between the Planned Parenthood killer, Robert Dear, and Christianity. But most of the article describes his multiple abuses of women. This explains why today’s Washington Post story on Dear is titled, “Colo. Shooting Suspect Has Long Trail of Abuse Allegations.”
Dear’s three wives say that he believed in the Bible. But they also acknowledge that he was never a practicing Christian. Indeed, there is no evidence that he ever belonged to a church congregation in his entire life, or that he was ever involved in a Christian community. This is significant: When survey researchers seek to measure religiosity, or how religiously committed someone is, the first question asked is how often the respondent attends church services.
Yesterday, the Times ran a front-page story on Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Muslim ringleader who masterminded the Paris killings. But there was a glaring omission—he was never identified as a Muslim (his role in the Islamist State’s hierarchy is the closest the story gets to identifying his religion). In fact, the only religion mentioned is Catholicism: the story says he was “sent to an exclusive Catholic school.” It did not say what was mentioned in a previous Times story, namely, that he lasted only one year; he either flunked out or was dismissed for bad behavior.
Now consider this: The New York Post reports that Abaaoud was raised in a Brussels neighborhood known as “a hotbed of Islamic extremism—before joining ISIS and embracing its war against the West.” More important, yesterday’s New York Times failed to report what Abaaoud said in a video just last year: “I pray that Allah will break the backs of those who oppose him…and that he will exterminate them.”
So which killer was more motivated by his religion? Dear or Abaaoud?
Contact Maggie Sullivan, NYT’s public editor: email@example.com