Not-So-Random Shooting: Christians Targeted in Oregon

Today we are debriefing after yet another rampage with mass casualties by a madman at a (gun-free) school. The targets were not random though. The innocent people who died are dead because they are Christian. While we still don’t have all the details, the New York Post has some information that we didn’t know yesterday:

A gunman singled out Christians, telling them they would see God in “one second,” during a rampage at an Oregon college Thursday that left at least nine innocent people dead and several more wounded, survivors and authorities said.

“[He started] asking people one by one what their religion was. ‘Are you a Christian?’ he would ask them, and if you’re a Christian, stand up. And they would stand up and he said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you are going to see God in just about one second.’ And then he shot and killed them,” Stacy Boylen, whose daughter was wounded at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., told CNN.

A Twitter user named @bodhilooney, who said her grandmother was at the scene of the carnage, tweeted that if victims said they were Christian, “then they were shot in the head. If they said no, or didn’t answer, they were shot in the legs.”

Normally, the violent persecution of Christians is something that we read about in the back pages of our newspapers, a phenomenon that happens on the other side of the planet. Of course all shootings are horrible, but this one strikes a chord considering what we are seeing all over the world: middle eastern Christians being crucified, raped, or beheaded; Christians being driven out of Europe (on top of their already-dwindling numbers); Christianity being forced out of the public square in America; etc.

Now while this and all shootings are horrible, it must be noted that we are actually living in one of the safest times in American history when it comes to gun-related deaths. Unfortunately most people wouldn’t be aware of this due to our 24-hour new cycle that makes their money on keeping everyone as anxious and angry as possible through the over-sensationalism of the news. The news even arguably encourages these events–the alleged shooter is quoted writing “Seems like the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight”. Why do we feature these people so prominently? Why do we do full profiles on them for days? Shootings, not actual journalism of keeping the powerful in-check, make headline news for days on end. But the fact of the matter is that we were much more violent between the late-70’s and early-90’s.

But, while statistically safer, we have more random, large-scale shootings which is indeed frightening. Why? Well, answering that question is above my pay grade. Obviously it’s not about our president’s pay grade though because, before we knew anything about what happened, we got lectured on how we need more laws and how this individual had a “sickness in his head”.

Of course anyone who does this can be considered “sick”, but we cannot keep reducing such complex and heinous acts to being ‘off’ in the head. Most leaders, especially modern American presidents, speak of “evil” in the world and having to crush it. “Evil” is a word that our current president doesn’t often bring up. There’s evil in the world and we must confront it. It might stem from different things, but it exists. Certainly mental health is important, but why is there seemingly a mental health epidemic now compared to previous eras? What’s different?

I’d argue the wild individualism, self-love, and hopeless despair that has manifested in so many people who have been taught there’s nothing to the universe beyond themselves is part of it. So many people have divorced their lives from a notion of something above themselves, or have raised their children to know no other way. We have a generation of people filled with despair when they cannot cope with a crummy situation or, in this case, hate for those who live the joy of a Christian life.

More laws, on top of existing laws that were obviously broken, will not fix the the empty and perverted human souls that have resulted from God being pushed out of every nook and cranny of society. We need to fix people, we need to give people hope, we need to give people joy–which is why Jesus Christ became man.

Now let’s see how the media reports this story–will they attempt to ignore the fact that it was Christians that were targeted?

Jesus Christ please look favorably upon the men and women who were unwillingly born unto eternal life yesterday. Please consider them martyrs and be merciful in considering their past sins. 

Through the immaculate heart of Mary, we ask that Christ comfort the family and friends close to the victims. Please give them the grace they need to carry on with life and fill them with hope.

Although difficult, we also pray for the soul of the shooter, that perhaps he is able to realize how wrongly he acted, that, through penance, perhaps he too is able to attain the promise of heaven through your saving grace

Amen.

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