Calculated Killing of Christians in Roseburg?

When religion draws fire, look to God and the heroic example of Charleston's forgiveness

 

If Christians are labeled as “haters” simply because they hold views derived from their Scriptures, the elevated rhetoric can, and indeed does lead to violent actions. It is inevitable. I am not saying we don’t criticize, but we must not demonize. When we demonize others — Christians, Muslims, gays, African-Americans or whomever — we give mentally unstable or hate-filled people additional justification to kill. Such actions are not our fault. But, everyone should remember the influence our words can have.

 

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, TexasNew 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 issue and 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.

How should Christians respond?

First, Christians need to be ready to give an answer for the hope that they have (1 Peter 3:15), yes, even if that causes our own deaths.

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