“Oregon Shooting: Umpqua Community College Gunman Talked Religion,” NBC News claims in the headline for a story about Thursday's shooting in Roseburg, Oregon. Of course the headline is misleading, to say the least. The gunman, 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer, didn’t bring a Bible to Umpqua Community College; he brought three handguns and a semi-automatic rifle. He didn’t talk about his religious beliefs; he asked who was Christian and shot in the head those who said they were while shooting others in the legs. Yet, if the only thing we knew about the tragic event was the NBC News headline, we could be forgiven for concluding that the gunman was a religous zealot as opposed to an anti-Christian hater.
As reported by numerous survivors of the murderous rampage, Harper-Mercer sought out Christians in order to murder them. Bodhi Looney, the grandson of a woman who escaped injury in the mayhem but who witnessed the shooter barking orders to his unarmed victims, relayed what she saw on his Twitter account:
The shooter was lining up people and asking if they were Christian. If they said yes, then they were shot in the head. If they said no, or didn’t answer, they were shot in the legs.
Stacy Boylan, the father of a student who was wounded in the attack, told reporters what she saw:
He shot the professor, point blank, one shot, killed him — took him right out of it.
And then, this man … start[ed] 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’re going to see God in just about one second.”
And then he shot and killed them.
On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold sought out, attacked and murdered Christians at Columbine High School, near Denver, Colorado. Cassie Bernall was reading in the library when one of the murderers pointed his gun at her and asked if she believed in God. She replied, “Yes, I believe in God.” The shooter asked her “Why?” and then, before she could answer, he shot her dead.
Rachel Scott, a Columbine student whose ambition was to become a missionary to Africa, along with student John Tomlin who had just returned from a missionary trip to Mexico on a church project, were also targeted by the shooters for their faith, and were murdered.
On the Sunday before she was murdered, Bernall wrote these words in her diary:
Now I have given up on everything else. I have found it to be the only way to really know Christ and to experience the mighty power that brought Him back to life again and to find out what it means to suffer and to die with Him.
So, whatever it takes, I will be one who lives in the fresh newness of life of those who are alive from the dead.
Photo of shooting victim: AP Images
A graduate of an Ivy League school and a former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at www.LightFromTheRight.com, primarily on economics and politics.