Colorado Gunman “Hated Christians”

Jim Burroway

December 10th, 2007

The Denver Post is reporting that the gunman responsible for the shooting spree at the missionary training center in Arvata, Colorado and the New Life Church in Colorado Springs has been identified as 24-year-old Matthew Murray. He is the son of a prominent neurologist and researcher on multiple sclerosis.

Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Philip Crouse, 24, were killed in Arvata, and two sisters, Stephanie Works, 18, and Rachael Works, 16, were killed in Colorado Springs. Five others were wounded.

According to The Post, anonynous sources report that Murray targeted the facilities because he “hated Christians.” The Post also reports that Murray had worked for the missionary school three years ago but was kicked out. He was also apparently raised in a deeply religious family and was home-schooled for at least part of his childhood.

It’s hard to know what could have happened to turn this young man to such a violent end. While these background factors are likely to be cited as clues to the makeup of his psyche, I don’t think the answer is there. It takes an awful lot to build up this kind of rage. I personally know home-schooled kids, and I know deeply religious families. The temptation to point fingers of blame to any of those factors would be a deeply misplaced one.

As I said before, our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to those who were killed and wounded, the families and  friends of the victims, and to their communities. I’d also like to extend the same for the family of Matthew Murray.


December 11th, 2007

Jim, thanks for not pointing fingers and reminding us to not point also. It is too easy to just blame this on a group we do not like and I am sure others will be quick to do this. But we are talking real pain and real tragedy here. To use this as a “soundbite” is beyond unthinkable.

My heartfelt prayers go to all who are victims here, those who were shot and also Matthew.


December 12th, 2007

I have been often curious about the powerful megachurch in my area, but never so much that I attended services.

In the wake of the recent news I’ve listened to a few of the music videos posted on youtube. They are nothing like the traditional hymnns of the older Christian churches which speak of human frailty and humility. They are, frankly, about the Grandiosity of God, with an appeal to sharing in this grandiosity by being among the worshippers who have the President’s ear.

I’ve been thinking about this, the strangely soothed worshippers (seen by me on Dawkins documentaries) waving their hands in the air, in strange trance. Holy Spirit, perhaps, or perhaps just flattery and adulation of the self as seen participating in this politically powerful gathering.

In that light, isn’t it easy to see how the fall of the pastor to scandal could create a sudden deflation of ego among the church members, with accompanying rage, and how the deflation of one young member due to mental illness and refusal of a missionary assignment could be the breaking point for the whole community?

In other words, one young man with a weak ego/personality was encouraged to balloon his self esteem through affiliation with this Church of the Grandiose Self. The church balloon was destined to burst. That is typical of such movements. The young man’s fate should be a warning to all of us not to inflate ourselves and each other with too much fantasy/fiction. It really can hurt.

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