Exercising discretion is wisdom put into practice. When news concerning the Atlanta Spa Massacre hit social media (because Xennials like myself do not watch evening news), I was appalled. I pray that I never become callous or apathetic in the face of such a heinous act, including the more-recent event that took place before I could write about this one!
Here is the thing: when the Atlanta shooter’s association with an Southern Baptist Convention church became known, I focused less on extenuating circumstances, and more on how the Body of Christ should respond. I wanted, required, a response. To my disappointment, but not my surprise, Crabapple First Baptist Church took down all of their social media. I was ready to blow them up in their cowardice and silence. Turns out, they were in the process of putting together the Olivia Pope of public statements.
I am accustomed to people close to the perpetrators of heinous crimes coming to their defense. Cherokee County, sheriff did, claiming that the shooter just had a “really bad day.” Local authorities whose job is to uphold the law by arresting mass-murders coming to the defense of perpetrators as if they were defense attornies aside, his church castigated him. “These unthinkable and egregious murders directly contradict his own confession of faith in Jesus and the gospel.”
That is a very strong rebuke—the strongest that I have ever seen in regards to a mass-shooter connected with a faith community. I am actually surprised, relieved, and impressed. I appreciate their specificity; they come out and say that “his actions, he does not “reflect the character of a true follower of Jesus Christ and member of His Church.” James 4:17 is one of the kinder scriptures in the Bible that define whether or not Christians are living out their faith as Christ would have it. Too often, I believe Christians are reticent to call out sin when it comes to one of the flock, rather than non-believers.
So, when Crabapple First Baptist says, “We believe in a Holy and Righteous God who abhors evil and will judge all sin in perfect justice,” I actually want to believe them. Yet, absent in their statement is self-reflection concerning how it could produce among its congregation an individual capable of mass-murder. Mark Silk focuses on purity culture in his critique of Crabapple, as the excuse of “sexual addition” began hitting the airwaves. However, with witnesses claiming that the shooter said that he wanted to kill all Asians, further examination is necessary. In the last line of their statement, Crabapple says, “Finally, we deeply regret the fear and pain Asian-Americans are experiencing as a result of Aaron’s inexcusable actions.”
Here, I would demand more; Crabapple denounces “any and all forms of hatred or violence against Asians or Asian-Americans” in the FAQ after the statement, coming off as the afterthought that it is. In addition, I would like to have seen a commitment to working with organizations dedicated to fighting anti-Asian violence, such as Stop AAPI Hate. It is unfortunate that this event was necessary to shed a light on a long history of anti-Asian sentiment and violence in America, but here we are.
As the Body of Christ, we should be able to come alongside God’s image-bearers in the quest to eliminate hate of all kinds. After all, if we believe that God is love, then hate is his antithesis, and not of God at all. To get started, Instagram user Kim Saira (@kimsaira) has created a college for reference. I have included it below. I am also including a few articles that I found interesting on the subject.