When religion draws fire, look to God and the heroic example of Charleston’s forgiveness
According to early reports, Chris Harper Mercer, the alleged Oregon community college gunman, asked students to stand and state their religion before shooting them.
Stacy Boylan, identified by CNN as the parent of a wounded student, said the killer asked ” ‘Are you a Christian?’ ” He then asked Christians to stand and said, ” ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you are going to see God in just about one second,’ ” before opening fire. Others have reported Mercer “hated religion” in his online writings.
Such reports are uncertain and often end up being wrong. And, I hope this one is incorrect — although the same general narrative does continue to surface. Regardless, the conversation gives us a moment to consider this reality because, well, it is not that far fetched.
Not persecuted, but targeted
I’m not one who believes Christians in America are persecuted.
I agree with former Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams that Christians in the West who feel they are persecuted need to “grow up” and not claim persecution when they are simply made “mildly uncomfortable.” The alleged “War on Christmas” hasn’t cost any lives.
Yet, there is in fact a disturbing pattern to shootings in Fort Worth, Texas, New Life Church in Colorado Springs, and in Charleston. Though Charleston was clearly connected to race, in all cases, Christians were targeted. We already have a research database for church shootings.
If this report turns out to be wrong, as others have, the tragedy will remain, as will this reality: people of faith, in some cases Christians, have been targeted in mass shootings.
Compelled to Action
I don’t have all the political answers at this moment. Calls for more gun control resonate with many right now. However, Americans are hardly of one mind on the issueand less than half want stricter gun laws.
Still, understandably, moments like this make us want to do something.
Since this involves Christians and society as a whole, perhaps we should ask what, at this moment, Christians should do, and our society must do.
These things can be done now.
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SOURCE: USA Today