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Gingrich says liberals and lack of religion sparked Va. tech killings.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has an unusual take on the tragic murder of 32 people at Virginia Tech: He says liberals and godless public education are to blame.

Gingrich, who is considering running for the presidency in 2008, was asked about the matter April 22 by ABC News host George Stephanopoulos on the program "This Week."

Stephanopoulos noted that after the 1999 Columbine shootings, Gingrich blamed liberalism and "godless" public schools for the massacre. He wanted to know if Gingrich believes similar forces were to blame at Virginia Tech.

Gingrich responded, "Yes. I think the fact is, if you look at the amount of violence we have in games that young people play at 7, 8, 10, 12, 15 years of age, if you look at the dehumanization, if you look at the fact that we refuse to say that we are, in fact, endowed by our Creator, that our rights come from God, that if you kill somebody, you're committing an act of evil."

A student at the Blacksburg, Va., college, Seung-Hui Cho, went on a rampage April 16 and gunned down 32 people be fore taking his own life. Cho mailed a package to NBC News containing rambling statements on videotapes during which he compared himself to Moses and Jesus. His motives remain unclear, but mental-health experts say Cho was obviously not of sound mind.

Commentators were quick to point out that Virginia Tech is hardly a religion-free zone. Dozens of religious groups operate on campus. They include: African Christian Fellowship at Virginia Tech, Ambassadors for Christ, Campus Crusade for Christ, Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship, Christ Gospel Ministries, Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, Episcopal/Anglican Christian Fellowship, Graduate Christian Fellowship, International Christian Fellowship, Korean Campus Crusade for Christ and New Life Christian Fellowship. Numerous non-Christian groups meet on campus as well.

Gingrich wasn't the only one looking to shift the blame for the massacre away from Cho. The Rev. Donald Wildmon's American Family Association (AFA) issued a video blaming the Virginia Tech tragedy on the alleged expulsion of God from public education.

Titled "The Day They Kicked God out of the Schools," the video begins with a voice-over from "Concerned Students" asking God why he did not save the school children at multiple school shootings in recent years. Comes God's reply: "Dear concerned students, 1 am not allowed in schools. Sincerely, God." The AFA is selling the video for $5 apiece.

Not to be outdone, the Religious Right group Worldview Weekend asserted that Cho was really an Islamic terrorist. No evidence has come to light indicating that Cho was anything but an unhinged young man, but Worldview Weekend, citing a letter from a Messianic rabbi in Newport News, Va., asserts that on the tapes, Cho quoted the Koran. The rabbi cites an unnamed police officer as his source.
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Title Annotation:PEOPLE & EVENTS
Publication:Church & State
Date:Jun 1, 2007
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