Republican congressional candidate Zach Dasher — nephew of "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson — has responded to reports that he once blamed atheism on the Sandy Hook massacre in a faith-based podcast he hosted before his campaign for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District.
Dasher, who exclusively told TheBlaze Friday that he was not pinning the event on nonbelievers as some have charged, accused media outlets of misrepresenting his comments.
"I thought it was dishonest … It was a soundbite put in a way to give the impression that I was blaming Sandy Hook on atheists," he said of recent coverage. "I'm not suggesting that all atheists are evil or that all religious people are good. There's good people in both groups."
Republican Zach Dasher, a relative of TV's "Duck Dynasty" family, speaks after signing up to run for the 5th District congressional seat on Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, in Baton Rouge, La. Dasher is one of several candidates seeking to oust U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)
Rather than blaming atheists directly for what unfolded at Sandy Hook Elementary School, he said he was merely examining and commenting on the larger societal picture: his belief that staunch secularism on a grand scale doesn't make room for a belief in human purpose beyond earthly existence.
Dasher, who said that he was talking on a macro level about what happens when a society rejects God and "the foundations of human liberty," also warned of a decrease in societal morality.
"When we reject God in society, moral decay follows … at every turn we see this [in] culture," Dasher said, later adding, "If atheism is true, then there can't be a objective morality."
When humanity is reduced to mere materialism, Dasher said that systemic issues often follow — mainly a worldview that runs counter to Christian teaching. And under a biblical worldview, he said that "every human being on the face of the planet is precious because they are made in God's image."
"I would say that I'm not blaming Sandy Hook on [atheists]," he said when asked how he would respond to nonbelievers following controversy over his remarks. "[But] I would ask them to give us something in their worldview that would provide a objective moral obligation to prohibit this from happening."
As for his belief that stripping God from society is dangerous, he called for Americans to "return to a culture of life and meaning" — one in which evil does not triumph and God is welcome in schools, government and other facets of society.
Dasher added that he's not surprised by what he believes are attempts to misinterpret his words, as he expected this would happen in a congressional race.
Republican Zach Dasher, a relative of TV's "Duck Dynasty" family, signs paperwork qualifying him to run for the 5th District congressional seat on Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, in Baton Rouge, La. Dasher is one of several candidates seeking to oust U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)
As previously reported, Dasher argued in a podcast titled, “Why Did This Happen," that blaming mass murder on mental illness is an inaccurate way of looking at the issue, claiming that those who commit these crimes suffer from a grander internal and societal problem.
“He has in some way rejected reality … the reality that man is made in the image of God and because of that he is intimately precious,” Dasher said in the podcast, presumably of Adam Lanza, who killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.
The congressional candidate went on to say that the “atheist agenda” reinforces this very message — a message that says “you don’t matter … all you are is chemical, all you are is material.”
Image via Zach Dash/Facebook
“These children that were killed in Connecticut were made for a purpose and to be honest with you even the killer himself was made for a purpose he was made in the image of God. But somewhere along the way he believed what the atheist says,” Dasher said. “He reduced humanity to nothing more than a collection of atoms to be discarded like an old banana peel.”
He continued, “He planned a way for himself to rise above the status of mere chemical. He found a way to matter even if it was for the most disgusting unimaginable act.”
Read more about the initial controversy here.