Friday, August 10, 2012

Religious Red Dawn?

by Loren Coleman ©2012

"There are stories of coincidence and chance, of intersections and strange things told, and which is which and who only knows? And we generally say, 'Well, if that was in a movie, I wouldn't believe it.' Someone's so-and-so met someone else's so-and-so and so on. And it is in the humble opinion of this narrator that strange things happen all the time. And so it goes, and so it goes. And the book says, 'We may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us.'" 
~ Paul Thomas Anderson, Magnolia, 1999.

Today is the 13th anniversary of the mass shooting by a white supremacist of a religious group of Americans. Sound familiar? It would be shortsighted to think that what happened last weekend was something new. Has the red dawn touched religious groups now?
Clearly, the Sikh Temple shooting of last Sunday, August 5, 2012, pointed out a specific kind of one of many potential vulnerable "fishbowl" sites. Workplaces, schools, churches, temples, and now theaters and gurdwara are part of the ripple targets hit after a major mass shooting receives extensive media coverage. Will a church or temple or theater be an immediate future target? How about sporting events? Let's us hope not, but let's look at what's happening, with open eyes.
Shall a Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or other group be the focus of a forthcoming violent act, as more copycat waves from Aurora and Oak Creek wash over our country? Few realized there was even a church shooting in Aurora, in April 2012.

Will August 19th (a Sunday) or August 20th (Monday, the calendar month anniversary since the Aurora red dawn event) be especially dangerous?  The shooters' killing clocks work much differently than yours and mine. We need to be aware.
The conjunction of several threads are coming together when you begin to realize that many religious groups are holding their services in movie theaters during non-movie mornings.
Indeed, one of the fastest developing trends in Christian churches has been to encourage growth, remove the fixtures of religiousness, and make people comfortable.
Many new churches look like movie theaters, and many new megachurch movements have begun in movie theaters. The overlapping of the two, for the mentally ill and disturbed, for the rage-filled and suicidal/homicidal, could become an uncomfortable focus for future mass shootings, which law enforcement agencies, religious organizations, and movie theater owners may wish to track.
To highlight how vulnerable religious organizations in group settings have been during high spree shooting times, here's a list. Let's look at just 13 years of the more prominent church, temple, and other religious-related shootings in the USA:

August 5, 2012 - Oak Creek, Wisconsin - Sikh Temple of Wisconsin - Wade Michael Page, 24, a white supremacist, hate rock band leader, and former U.S. Army psychological operations specialist, entered a Sikh gurdwara and killed six people (shown above) and wounded four others, using a Springfield XD(M) 9mm semi-automatic pistol. He shot a responding police officer, and after being shot by another responding officer, Page fatally shot himself in the head.

May 3, 2012 - Ellicott City, Maryland - St. Peter's Episcopal Church - Rev. Mary-Marguerite Kohn, co-rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, and Brenda Brewington, were killed on by a homeless man, after he was apparently turned away from the church’s food bank. The homeless man identified by authorities as Douglas Jones, who was found dead in the woods nearby the church by self-inflicted gun shot wounds.

April 22, 2012 – Aurora, Colorado - Destiny Christian Center – Police say the mother of Pastor De Lono Straham, Destiny Christian Center, was shot and killed Sunday afternoon at the end of the worship service. The police say the shooting suspect and the pastor’s mother were shot and taken to a local hospital where they both died. The suspect was shot by an off-duty Denver Police officer who was a member of the church and is the pastor’s cousin. Police currently had no motive for the shooting.

September 18, 2011 - Lakeland, Florida - Greater Faith Christian Center Church - Jeremiah Fogle, 57, was charged with murder and attempted murder after Sunday’s shootings the Lakeland church. Pastor William Boss and associate pastor Carl Stewart were shot from behind, authorities said. Boss was shot in the head, and Stewart was shot three times in the back and ear.

August 30, 2010 – Visalia, California - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - A lay bishop at a Mormon church was killed by a man who was himself killed in an ensuing confrontation with officers. Clay Sannar, a 42-year-old father of six boys, was doing administrative paperwork on Sunday between services when a man came in and asked for a leader of the congregation. The man was directed to Sannar and fatally shot him, said Colleen Mestas, the police chief in Visalia, southeast of Fresno in California’s Central Valley. Someone the called police and identified himself as the gunman. When police arrived at the church, they confronted the man and exchanged gunfire. The gunman was shot multiple times and pronounced dead. No police officers were injured. The Church later confirmed the shooter was 47-year-old Kenneth Ward, a member of the Church who resigned his membership in 2004.

February 14, 2010 - Richmond, California - Gethsemane Church of God in Chris - Three hooded men walked into this Church of God in Christ and opened fire and then fled the scene, as the singing of the choir was replaced by frightened screams. The two victims, a 14-year-old boy and a 19-year-old man, were hospitalized.
June 10, 2009 - Washington, D. C. - United States Holocaust Memorial Museum - James Wenneker von Brunn, 88, white supremacist, 9/11 Truther, Obama Birther, and Holocaust denier opened fire with a .22 rifle at the Holocaust Museum, wounding at least one before being shot in the head by security officers. The gunman gravely wounded a security guard before two other officers returned fire. The guard, identified as 39-year-old Stephen Tyrone Johns of Temple Hills, Maryland, died. While awaiting trial, von Brunn died on January 6, 2010.

March 8, 2009 - Maryville, Illinois - First Baptist Church - Suspect Terry Joe Sedlacek, 27, of Troy, walked into the First Baptist Church, and shot pastor Fred Winters dead, point blank. Several church members are injured by a knife in the struggle to capture after the attack, The suspect also had stabbed himself, but survived, when his gun jammed

July 27, 2008 - Knoxville, Tennessee - Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church - Motivated by a desire to kill liberals and Democrats, gunman Jim David Adkisson fired a
Remington Model 48 12-gauge shotgun at members of the congregation during a youth performance of a musical, killing two people and wounding seven others.

December 9, 2007 - Arvada and Colorado Springs, Colorado - Youth With A Mission Center and New Life Church - Missionary-in-training Matthew Murray, 24, first shot four, killing two at one location, and then shot five, killing two sisters at the second religious location before he was shot by Jeanne Assam, a former sworn Colorado police officer and a church member acting as security. Murray took his own life after being wounded.

May 20, 2007 - Moscow, Idaho - Presbyterian Church - A standoff between police and a suspect in the shootings of three people in a church ended with three dead, including one police officer.

Aug. 12, 2007 - Neosho, Missouri - First Congregational Church - Eiken Elam Saimon shot and killed the pastor and two deacons and wounded five others.

July 28, 2006 - Seattle, Washington - Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle Building - The shooting occurred at around 4:00 p.m., when Naveed Afzal Haq shot six women, one fatally, at the building in the Belltown neighborhood. Naveed Afzal Haq had selected his target by researching "something Jewish" on the Internet.

May 21, 2006 - Baton Rouge, Louisiana - The Ministry of Jesus Christ Church - The four at the church who were killed were members of Erica Bell's family; she was abducted and murdered elsewhere; Bell's mother, church pastor Claudia Brown, was seriously wounded. Anthony Bell, 25, was the shooter.

April 9, 2005 - College Park, Georgia - A 27-year-old airman died after being shot at a church, where he had once worked as a security guard.

Feb. 26, 2006 - Detroit, Michigan - Zion Hope Missionary Baptist Church - Kevin L. Collins, who reportedly went to the church looking for his girlfriend, killed two and then later killed himself.

March 12, 2005 - Brookfield, Wisconsin - Living Church of God - Terry Ratzmann opened fire on the congregation, killing seven and wounding four before taking his own life within the Sheraton Hotel. The attack happened at the Sheraton, as the Living Church of God met on Saturday mornings at the Brookfield Sheraton Hotel for the past several years.

July 30, 2005 - College Park, Georgia - World Changers Church International - Air Force Staff Sgt. John Givens was shot five times by a police officer after charging the officer, following violent behavior.

December 17, 2004 - Garden Grove, California - Crystal Cathedral - A veteran musician at the Crystal Cathedral shoots himself to death after a nine-hour standoff.

October 5, 2003 - Atlanta, Georgia - Turner Monumental AME Church - Shelia Wilson walked into the church while preparations are being made for service and shot the pastor, her mother and then herself.

June 10, 2002 - Conception, Missouri - Benedictine monastery - Lloyd Robert Jeffress shot four monks in the monastery killing two and wounding two, before killing himself.

March 12, 2002 - Lynbrook, New York - Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church - Peter Troy, a former mental patient, opens fire during Mass, killing the priest and a parishioner. He later receives a life sentence.

May 18, 2001 - Hopkinsville, Kentucky - Greater Oak Missionary Baptist Church - Frederick Radford stood up in the middle of a revival service and began shooting at his estranged wife, Nicole Radford, killing her and a woman trying to help her.

September 15, 1999 - Fort Worth, Texas - Wedgewood Baptist Church - Larry Gene Ashbrook shot dead seven people and injured a further seven at a concert by Christian rock group Forty Days in Fort Worth, Texas before killing himself.

August 10, 1999 - Los Angeles, California - North Valley Jewish Community Center - A shooting occurred at around 10:50 a.m., when white supremacist Buford O. Furrow, Jr. walked into the lobby of the Jewish community center in Granada Hills, Los Angeles, and opened fire with a semiautomatic weapon, fired 70 shots into the complex. The gunfire wounded five people: three children, a teenage counselor, and an office worker. Shortly thereafter, Furrow murdered a mail carrier, fled the state, and finally surrendered to authorities.

April 15, 1999 - Salt Lake City, Utah - LDS Church Family History Library - Sergei Babarin, 70, with a history of mental illness, entered the library, killed two people and wounded four others before he was gunned down by police.

Footnote: Other mass shootings have had religious undertones, as well, such as the "Jew cafe" comments of the Dawson College shooter or the Amish School killings, but the above list attempts to capture those violent incidents that appear to target groups at specific religiously identified sites.

(NY: Simon and Schuster, 2004) 


... said...

As it's come to show - you may be onto something again! I can see this escalating to some kind of larger audience - like an evangelical gathering -the likes of a Billy Graham stadium or similar.

This is a scary thought.


Anonymous said...

A bit off topic but still related to the Aurora Colorado shooting -- I vaguely remember John Keel mentioning a strange satellite discovered in the late 50s -- the "Black Knight" is what I believed he called it. If memory serves me right, it had some sort of connection to PK Dick. Another sync perhaps -- "Dark Knight" and "Black Knight"? Any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Something tells me that soon the shootings will be replaced by fires and bombs. The apartment that was recently set on fire in Aurora after the Dark Knight shooting, and then the mosque burned down in the south after the Sikh temple shooting.

Religion has always had a special association with fire as well ie. hell.

Stephanie said...

this is such a sad example of the desolate spiritual landscape of our culture.