Each of the worshippers killed in the New Zealand mosque massacres were individuals….obviously. Or not? Tweets, comments, and pontifications oozing–or in too many cases flooding–into the internet ozone that try to ascribe the slaughter and crime to any cause or agenda, link it to any acts of coreligionists, or even try to explain it beyond the madness of the killers, all have one ignorant thing in common: Group ideology. That’s the same evil root as the killers’ motivation sprung from. “They’re Muslims, ISIS is Muslim, ISIS is evil, therefore Muslims are evil.” That’s the murderers’ rationale. Now take away the group ideology. A rational, sane person might say, “an evil individual is responsible for their own actions, regardless of their religion, and their crimes should be dealt with according to the laws they have broken.” That is what I believe. No need to say any more about that, because I am not promoting an agenda here.
The tiny word “a” can subconsciously foster the group linking mentality. If I say “he is a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew”, that is different than saying “he is Muslim, he is Christian, he is Jewish.” In the case of inserting a before the religion, that makes the religion a noun, rather than an adjective. A NOUN is something you have, or in this case, a group you are part of. An adjective is something you are, when it modifies the noun. Granted, it’s a subtle distinction, but a real one. Think about it. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus etc, are not homogeneous groups. Every individual embracing a religion has a somewhat different understanding of their scriptures and somewhat different goals, aspirations, families and so forth. Treating each person as an individual inherently weakens justifications for perpetrating evil acts based on their group.