Trans Activists Set Stage for Religious School Ban, Shift Blame to Christians for Nashville Shooting


When the narrative police sprung into action on Monday afternoon, after a woman killed six people at a Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee, they weren’t given much to work with.

Because, remember, whenever there’s a mass shooting in America, the narrative must be that conservatives are to blame. If it’s a lunatic white supremacist, that’s easy: They were just putting Republican talking points into action. If it’s a lunatic who’s white but isn’t a declared white supremacist, well, maybe it’s internalized white supremacy. Return to point one.

Was the shooter neither of those? Well, guns, of course, are to blame. But then there’s always the question of motive — and with a Christian school being targeted, that canceled out the whole blame-it-on-the-gun mentality. Things got even worse when it turned out the shooter was a female who identified as transgender. This would ordinarily be a supporter of the narrative, not fodder for it.

So the solution in some quarters, hasty and messy though it may have been, was to blame Christians and conservatives for bringing it upon themselves.

Take Eli Erlick, a transgender activist who, according to the U.K. Daily Mail, has “recently boasted about providing cross-sex hormones to children.” Erlick posted false allegations of abuse at the church that runs The Covenant School in Nashville, denounced it as “a right-wing institution” and said without evidence that the shooter suffered “abuse at the school.”

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“As we learn more, it’s clear the Nashville Covenant School is a right-wing institution in which Audrey Hale and many others were abused,” Erlick wrote in a tweet.

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Another trans activist, Veronica Ripley, retweeted Erlick and said, “A lot of things need to happen in the wake of this terrible Nashville tragedy, but certainly the conservative love affair with radical unregulated religious ‘schools’ should come to an end.

“They try destroying public schools any chance they get, but here we are.”

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One user commented on Erlick’s post, saying, “Sounds like you’re excusing it to me.” That comment was included in the Daily Mail’s headline, along with this: “Trans activists demand ban on ‘radical religious schools.'” Erlick argued that wasn’t the case, albeit poorly:

“Regulating religious schools, firing pastors that abuse students, mandating queer and trans curriculum, and providing free mental healthcare could help prevent tragedies like these in the future,” Erlick tweeted.

It’s worth noting that the Daily Mail has since changed its headline, which now reads, “Trans activists slam ‘radical religious schools’ in response to Nashville mass shooting in which three 9-year-olds were killed.” However, there’s an argument to be made that a backdoor ban is being proposed via these suggestions.

Mandating that a religious school teach a “queer and trans curriculum” and regulating what they can teach is, in effect, banning them. Erlick is intimating that these schools must be forced to provide education that’s anti-biblical — or, under regulation of the state, be shut down. That’s a ban that doesn’t use the word “ban.” It doesn’t make it any different from an outright ban, it just turns a private Christian institution into a state public school in all but name and tuition cost.

But notice the blame shift: It’s the Christians that are responsible. Erlick tweeted unsubstantiated and false allegations, then suggested abuse at the hands of “a right-wing institution” brought about the shooting. The Christians and the conservatives are responsible for a Christian conservative institution being targeted.

Now, mind you, Erlick and Ripley’s takes were the two most explicit and vile examples of blame-shifting that happened in the wake of the Nashville shooting. They were hardly the only ones.

At ABC News, Terry Moran noted during the network’s coverage of the tragedy that the “state of Tennessee earlier this month passed, and the governor signed, a bill that banned transgender medical care for minors, as well as a law that prohibited adult entertainment, including male and female impersonators, after a series of drag show controversies in that state” involving shows aimed at minors.

Moran went on to say that the shooting was “a highly unusual crime in so many ways, a tragedy that now involves what may be this boiling controversy across the country around transgender health care.”

Meanwhile, when a mass shooter leaves behind a manifesto, calls for its release are usually immediate — and then it’s pored over for any damning details that can add to the narrative. Not this time.

As Newsweek noted, “[c]alls for police to release the ‘manifesto’ that authorities say was written ahead of Monday’s Nashville school shooting has prompted concern among LGBTQ+ groups, who caution against the publication of such a document.”

“It should not be published,” said Jordan Budd, the executive director of Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere, or COLAGE. “The focus should be on how this was able to happen in the first place. There should not be such easy access to deadly weaponry.” Several other LGBT groups expressed similar sentiments.

The narrative police must always win. It can’t be mental illness related to the shooter’s gender dysphoria. It can’t be animus toward Christians or conservatives. It has to be guns — and the Christians and conservatives who brought this upon themselves, if you really want to go all the way.

There is not a person in America who thinks we don’t have a problem with mass murder. The issue is that half of us don’t want to understand it. They don’t want to talk about abstractions like the spiritual, mental and existential crisis America and its citizens are facing. They want an easy answer, and that easy answer better put the blame on the right.

Eli Erlick and Veronica Ripley may have said reprehensible things, but they’re little different than those who know not to say the quiet part out loud. Terry Moran and COLAGE can sand the edges off these vile sentiments to make them sound acceptable. But at heart, they all come from the same wretched impulse, the same odious narrative.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture