By now you’ve all heard the tragic news out of Sutherland Springs, Texas. On Sunday morning, an utterly wicked, evil and deranged 26-year-old man named Devin Patrick Kelley strolled into the town’s First Baptist Church and opened fire on an entire congregation of Christian worshippers. Senior saints, innocent children and a pregnant woman are among the dead. It’s already been termed “the worst church shooting in modern history.”
Kelley, who was decked out in tactical gear and wearing a ballistic vest, managed to slaughter at least 26 people — including an 18-month-old baby and the pastor’s 14-year-old daughter — before he was reportedly forced to flee the scene after exchanging gunfire with an armed neighbor and sustaining an injury. According to a report from The New York Times, these neighbors pursued him, successfully chasing him into the next county, where Kelly would later crash his own vehicle. He was found dead inside. For now, police officials are saying that it’s unclear how he died.
Since the shooting, we’ve learned that Kelly was a devout atheist who often mocked Christianity and posted atheistic rants to his Facebook page, along with photos of guns and other weaponry. (His page has since been taken down.) According to former classmates, he was also heavily medicated and even took psychological drugs prescriptions between 6th and 9th grade. As if that’s not enough, we know that he was later dishonorably discharged from the Air Force and court-martialed for assaulting his wife and child, which means that his legal carry permits should have been revoked. (Apparently the Air Force dropped the ball somewhere in the paperwork there.) And to top it all off, it’s been reported that Kelley’s mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law were both members of Sutherland Springs First Baptist. (The grandmother-in-law died in the shooting.)
There were plenty of red flags throughout this man’s troubled life that should have — at the very least — raised concern and prompted psychological counseling intervention.
Anyway, it didn’t take long for leftists across the country to come crawling out of their safe spaces, demanding new and stricter gun control laws — as if any new law could have predicted or prevented this senseless tragedy. As I’ve said countless times, the problem is not guns and other inanimate objects. The problem is human depravity and the evil heart of mankind — a topic that the Left tends to avoid at all costs (probably because it would force them to examine their own immorality.)
Worst of all though, were the folks who took to social media and the airwaves to openly mock Christianity, prayer and God, using the age-old arguments that “prayer doesn’t work” and “if God were real or loving, he wouldn’t have allowed this to happen in the first place,” undoubtedly echoing the very ideological sentiments of the shooter himself. Some even went so far as to say that this tragedy would cause Christians in the U.S. to develop a “persecution complex.”
Before the bodies had been buried, before families and friends could grieve, before funerals could be held, these shameless moral degenerates had the audacity to suggest that God was at least partially to blame for the deaths of over 20 of His own children. Then they had the nerve to deride any Christian who labeled this tragedy as a form of persecution.
Now, although this shouldn’t even be necessary, I’d like to take a minute to point out that Christ-followers are absolutely enduring persecution in modern American society. For God’s sake, we just saw a self-professing atheist who hates Christianity mow down a congregation of innocent worshippers. We’ve watched our own government force Christian business owners to choose between their beliefs on marriage and their livelihood. We’ve seen pro-life Christian speakers run off university campuses. To be clear, I'm not equating losing your bakery with being shot in the face by an atheistic psychopath. But here’s how Merriam-Webster defines persecution:
“The act or practice of persecuting especially those who differ in origin, religion or social outlook.”
“Hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race or political or religious beliefs.”
I’d say that this “incident” in Texas qualifies as “hostility” and “ill-treatment.” In fact, it qualifies just as it did when Dylann Roof slaughtered nine believers during a prayer service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church last December in Charleston, South Carolina. Regardless of any personal issues Devin Kelly might’ve had with his in-laws, it’s apparent that his intense hatred of their religion was at least a contributing factor here.
American Christians may not endure physical persecution with the same frequency as our brothers and sisters in the Middle East or in places like Sudan, Somalia and North Korea. But, persecution is happening nonetheless. It’s here. It’s now. This is no longer a hypothetical. And as our culture continues to reject and dismiss God in every aspect of our existence, it will only get worse.
Fortunately, as believers, we worship a Savior — a High Priest — who was and is acquainted with grief, sorrow, tragedy and horror in every way that we are and will be. This is why, rather than living in fear, we can draw near to Him in times of intense suffering and loss. We may be witnessing the start of more commonplace violence against Christians, but at least we don’t have to despair over it.