BLOOD ON THE ALTAR
THE RISE OF SANCTUARY SHOOTINGS
MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
The Sutherland Springs, Texas, church shooting on Sunday killed about 7 percent of the small town’s population.
That estimate comes from CNN, showing just how much of a gruesome impact the single shooting had on the small unincorporated community of about 600.
The ages of the deceased range from 18 months to 77 years of age.
The incredibly high percentage is in part a reflection of the town’s size, making it so just one event can have an outsize impact.
It also means, however, that a lot of people in the town know the victims.
Mass shootings are, broadly speaking, typically seen as events in which a shooter or multiple shooters open fire on another group of people in public. Whether it rises to the level of a mass shooting typically depends on the death or injury toll, some organizations use a definition that includes any shooting in which at least four people were shot, others use definitions in which at least three or four people were shot and killed, and some use even narrower definitions that try to control the details of the shooting.
The media has done this with the recent New York attacks where they first reported it as a mass shooting; when no guns were involved and reporting that it was the worst terrorist attack in New York since 9/11 – they are now saying that what happened in Sutherland was the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history.
These attacks still remain in the shadow of the Las Vegas shooting, where now there has been a news blackout on the event that was called the worst mass shooting in United States modern history.
If you believe the alternative reporting on the internet, all the recent shootings have been either ISIS inspired or part of the Antifa apocalypse – only one of the past three attacks on Americans was allegedly inspired by ISIS extremists.
I am beginning to despise the so-called alternative truth tellers that spew forth disinformation to the public based on supposition and political bias. After every shooting tragedy that happens in the United States – the talking points are always the same.
It all begins with the feigned platitudes and hollow prayers that allegedly go out to the victims of these tragedies. While I am sure there are people with genuine sympathy for the victims, I tend to grow cynical whenever I hear it coming out of the mouths of news reporters and politicians who then throw out their political agendas and arguments over guns and their incredulity over why people like the Sutherland Springs, Texas, killer Devin Kelley get a hold of deadly weapons and whether or not it is time to seize weapons or once again take away American constitutional rights.
While the arguments are becoming exhaustingly trite, I would like to offer a different viewpoint regarding the rise in sanctuary attacks, churches of all denominations and why the increase in these attacks are prelude to a much larger civil upheaval.
If we are able to go back in history, we can see that when internal wars are brewing in any nation the first places that are attacked are the mosques, the synagogues and the churches.
Even if the attacks serve no political motive, the copycat effects with such incidents grow until each denomination sees itself as under attack and the notion of persecuted church results in sectarian violence that is seen in the Middle East and elsewhere.
The Bolshevik seizure of power that led to the Russian Civil War began with many attacks on the various churches in Russia. Throughout the civil war various religions, secularists and anti-clericalists of the Bolsheviks played a key role in the military and social struggles which occurred during the war.
During that time these extremists groups and the Red Army were responsible for murdering large numbers of clergy and believers.
Many monasteries were attacked and monks were slaughtered.
There are always people who claim to be human that find ways to reduce the value of life for those they wish to erase from the planet and if they can get the critical mass to agree, they seal in blood a covenant of murder that they will say binds us together and the trying times are the only times we see just how fit we are as a people.
We can’t be content with peace and tranquility, or pull together when things go right. We have to be told we are only at our best when blood is shed or when tragedy strikes which, once again, seals the deal of a consensus persecution complex and soon a country that does not wish to wage war demands it and washes away their collective guilt in a sea of blood and fire.
It is a sick thought, but so easily entertained in a world that can’t stand the thought of life being sacred for all things and all people of various political and religious affiliations.
Several decades ago, attacks in places of worship here in the United States were unheard of.
However, in 1963 four girls were killed in the bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was an act of white supremacist terrorism which occurred at the all African American 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama when four members of the Ku Klux Klan planted at least 15 sticks of dynamite attached to a timing device beneath the steps located on the east side of the church.
Dr. Martin Luther King called it one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.
The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing marked a turning point in the United States and fueled rumors that there was an underground plot devised by the Klan and segregationists to start a race war in the United States.
Racial, political and religious resentment has long been a negative element of our culture, and as we look at the news and notice how our culture is behaving with regard to race and to social norms, the discussion of “social war” and “civil upheaval” is rearing its head again.
The mainstream narrative has propped up a number of examples for us to talk about. The media has now been able to ratchet up the ideas that many white Americans are racists and now appropriation extremists and groups like Antifa have developed an equally ruthless philosophy that takes anti-fascism and ant is racism activism to extremes.
The disenfranchised citizens are now demanding a form of compliance with regard to race, gender, religious and political bias. This has created a rash of extremist views that are now being espoused by those who feel that a violent revolution is the only way to change the course of the country.
It appears that the way to truly create a feeling of instability in the country is to go into places where people have felt secure in the past and attack. Even though they are rarely reported “church related” attacks happen a lot. The only time you hear about them in the media is when they are political expedient to do so.
Not many people are aware that before the shooting which took place in Texas, there was another church shooting in Tennessee.
In late September, the shooting at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ killed one woman and injured seven others.
Emanuel Samson was charged in the shooting.
The Department of Justice opened a civil rights investigation into the case to determine if the shooting was racially or religiously motivated.
Emanuel Samson was a black man from Nigeria.
Samson, wrote about “revenge or retaliation” for racially motivated shooting of 9 black church goers in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015, police said.
Dylan Roof, a white supremacist who became the first person sentenced to death for a federal hate crime, said he shot the 9 victims as they prayed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Roof said he did it because he wanted to start a race war.
The investigators pointed out that in the case of Samson the Burnette Chapel had a diverse congregation, so the case was ruled a murder.
It is clear that churches and believers of any religion are vulnerable to attack on the inside. Security is becoming increasingly important for churches. Acts of violence, vandalism, and disruption have always plagued churches of all denominations.
From 1982 until now, violence in churches has spared almost no denomination, reaching some 27 different church denominations. The leading church denomination with the most violent incidents are Baptist and non-denominational with 219 and 211 respectively followed by Catholic with 142, Methodists with 68, and Lutheran with 38 violent incidents.
Back in 2009, in Wichita, Kansas, a gunman shot and killed an usher in the foyer of the Reformation Lutheran Church as he handed out church bulletins after services. The usher was Dr. George Tiller, one of the few doctors in the country who performed late-term abortions. The killer, Scott Philip Roeder, an anti-abortion activist, fled the scene and was arrested three hours later; he was convicted of murder in 2010 and sentenced to life in prison.
In 2007 a gunman shot two people at the Youth With A Mission Center at Arvada, near Denver Colorado, and then killed five people 12 hours later at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, before he was shot by a volunteer security guard, the police said. The gunman, identified as Matthew Murray, died at the scene of the second shooting.
The police said he was carrying two assault rifles, three handguns and 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
After the Sutherland shooting President Trump appeared to try to steer the debate away from gun control. At a news conference in Tokyo, Trump said he thought “mental health” was a possible motive, adding that it appeared the shooter was “a very deranged individual, a lot of problems for a long period of time.” He did not provide further explanation.
In fact, what the President said is statistically right. Most shootings or bombings in a place of worship are usually carried out by mentally ill parishioners.
Dallas Drake, a criminologist at the Center for Homicide Research in Minneapolis, reports that most victims of church shootings likely know their attacker. Nearly half of the offenders 48% were affiliated with the church and nearly a quarter 23% involved “intimate partners,” such as wives, girlfriends and husbands.
Earlier on Sunday, Devin Patrick Kelley, the suspected shooter in Sutherland, had texted threats to his mother-in-law, who regularly attended First Baptist, authorities said Monday. She was not inside when Kelley opened fire in the sanctuary, police say.
So far, police report that there was no connection to Antifa, he wasn’t a soldier of ISIS and apparently, it wasn’t racially motivated.
In 17% of church shootings, the attacker felt unwelcome or had been rejected by the church, Drake said. Twelve percent of the shooters suffered from a mental illness.
Those statistics jibe with more recent data from Carl Chinn, a church-security consultant based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Chinn has collected data on more than 1,600 “deadly force incidents” since 1999 at all houses of worship, including mosques, synagogues, etc.
In Chinn’s dataset, robberies account for more than a quarter of homicides within houses of worship, followed by fights between domestic partners (16%) and personal conflicts between people who do not live together (14%).
Like Drake, Chinn found that more than 10% of all homicides at houses of worship involve mental illness. Religious bias accounted for about 6%. (In Drake’s study, “religious differences” accounted for 9% of church shootings.)
Both Chinn and Drake found that deadly attacks at houses of worship have increased in recent years.
Drake counts 147 church shootings from 2006-2016. Looking more broadly at all violence at all houses of worship, Chinn has tallied more than 250 incidents each in 2015 and 2016. Through August of this year, there had already been 173, according to Chinn. That, of course, does not include the massacre in Sutherland Springs on Sunday.
But Drake cautions against over-interpreting the increase in church shootings. People of faith are not being targeted because of their religion, he said. Rather, the shootings are part of an overall and alarming increase in mass shootings within the country at large.
In some ways, Drake said, houses of worship are simply the most “convenient venue” for attackers who harbor grudges against former lovers, spouses or friends. Many sanctuaries have regular schedules, lack robust security and proudly bear open-door policies. They are designed to attract the least and the lost, and to welcome them into a loving community, even if that sometimes has terrible consequences.
In houses of worship, all are welcome, but with the rise in sanctuary shootings should this change?
Should religious groups be more selective on whom they welcome into their flock?
Will the rise is sanctuary shootings hurt church attendance? The truth is, churches are already closing their doors to believers.
Somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 churches close their doors every year.
Between the years 2010 and 2012, more than half of all churches in America added not one new member. Each year, nearly 3 million more previous churchgoers enter the ranks of the “religiously unaffiliated.”
The ways of “God are mysterious” because no one cares to expose the hypocrisy that has taken root in all of the faiths and in our blindness we have also allowed the so-called devil to handle all of the affairs of the faiths.
Knocking on the door of all the churches, synagogues and mosques are super predators that take their extremists agendas to the sanctuary and preach their hate and aggravation to those who fear they are persecuted.
The aggravation spreads like a virus and people begin to see through it.
What is being offered is not satisfying people who have the ability to think outside the box. People have slowly become “urban agnostics” even “urban atheists” where publicly they are not religious but privately they pray or practice magic or some other ritualistic endeavor. Many are quick to believe in whatever confirms their suspicions making objective information difficult to obtain.