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Journal of Religion and Violence


published on March 18, 2015

Birgit Pfeifer, Ruard R. Ganzevoort
DOI: 10.5840/jrv20153172

The Implicit Religion of School Shootings
Existential Concerns of Perpetrators Prior to Their Crime

The present paper explores which existential concerns emerge in autobiographical documents of school shooters. The perpetrators in this study discuss their hatred of humanity and existential loneliness in their video manifestos, suicide letters, or diary entries. These expressions—called leaking—contain traces of implicit religion which help us to understand strong layers of meaning in this seemingly irrational behavior. The study involves a narrative analysis of the expressions of school shooters to shed more light on the existential dimension of their motives. We discuss the relation between implicit religion and school shootings, with particular attention to religious terminology in shooters’ language.

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