WND Exclusive FAITH UNDER FIRE
on rise in U.S.
'Leaders must be prepared
to defend congregations'
Posted: December 15, 2007
1:00 am Eastern
By Bob Unruh
© 2008 WorldNetDaily.com
Church shootings, in the headlines because of the attacks by Matthew Murray, 24, of Englewood, Colo., on two Christian groups last weekend, are on the rise across the United States, even though they're not yet at epidemic proportions.
Murray killed two people at a Youth With A Mission missionary training center in Arvada, Colo., early last Sunday morning, then apparently posted some rantings on the Internet, and drove to the New Life Church in Colorado Springs where he killed two teen girls. He also wounded half a dozen others before he was confronted by a church member volunteering as a security guard, and was shot.
A tabulation of church shootings, or those closely related to a church setting, was done by Gary Cass, chairman of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, and include 10 such attacks over the last four years, including Murray's two attacks.
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"The tragic events in Colorado this past weekend underscore the fact that anti-Christian hostility is reaching a new, more violent level," Cass told WND. "Churches used to be sanctuaries that were regarded as sacred, now all church leaders must be prepared to effectively defend themselves and use deadly force if necessary to protect their congregations from violent acts."
He said a brief search found the following shootings, before last weekend's attacks:
* August 12, 2007: A lone gunman, Eiken Elam Saimon, opened fire in a Missouri Micronesian church, killing a pastor and two other churchgoers.
* May 20, 2007: A standoff between police and a suspect in the shootings of three people in a Moscow, Idaho, Presbyterian Church ended with three dead, including one police officer.
* Although not at a church building, the Oct. 2, 2006, attack in Lancaster County, Pa., by a gunman who killed five girls and then himself at an Amish school targeted a religious site.
* May 21, 2006: Louisiana. Four were killed by a man at Jesus Christ Church.
* Feb. 26, 2006: Michigan. Two people were killed at Zion Hope Missionary Baptist Church by a man who reportedly went to the church looking for his girlfriend. He later killed himself.
* April 9, 2005: A 27-year-old airman died after being shot at a church in College Park, Ga., where he had once worked as a security guard.
* March 12, 2005: A man walked into the services of the Living Church of God in Milwaukee and open fired immediately, killing seven people.
* Oct. 5, 2003: A woman opened fire in Turner Monumental AME church in Kirkwood, east of Atlanta, killing the pastor and two others.
* Sept. 16, 1999: Seven young people were killed when a man opened fire during a prayer service for teen-agers at the Wedgewood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas.
"Self-defense is not just a right, but a Christian duty. Jesus told his followers, 'if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one,'" said Cass. "Christians are not to be a soft target for the hateful and deranged. Church leaders have a duty not to allow a crazed gunman to come and shoot up their congregation. Thank God for security officer Jeanne Assam and for New Life Church's security preparations."