Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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dogemperor [userpic]
In regards to the recent shooting at two dominionist groups in Colorado Springs

(Crossposted to Dark Christianity @ LiveJournal, as well as [info]woundedwarriors on LJ)

By now, most of you know of the shootings at two dominionist groups in Colorado Springs--I've deleted the original post because there was too much talk that could be interpreted as supporting such action (and yes, kids, this is against our rules and will result in smackdowns), but I did want to put up another post detailing what we know so far about this.

Media reports have indicated that a gunman (and it is now suspected that it IS the same person) went first into a Youth With A Mission post in Arvada and killed two staff members (and injured two others); the gunman is now thought to have also targeted New Life Church twelve hours later and shot up the Sunday evening service--killing a teenage girl and another churchgoer before he was shot and killed by church security.

There are strong indications this was a preplanned attack, in the case of New Life Church; multiple pipe bombs and "other suspicious devices" were found at the church after the shooter was killed, and apparently pipe bombs and other IEDs have been found at the attacker's home--indicating he may have been planning to attack *multiple* dominionist churches in the area. Whilst the two YWAM posts are not connected, there's also indication that he may have been targeting Youth With A Mission specifically--New Life Church works *very* closely with YWAM on multiple things, including projects on converting other people of the book.

Update 4:10pm 10 December: CNN News has confirmed Matthew Murray was not only the shooter at both churches but was a YWAM walkaway--pointing out the very real possibility of a mental breakdown being the ultimate cause of this tragedy.

Update 4:26pm 10 December: Shooter Matthew Murray was apparently not a member of New Life Church, but per media sources was a member of Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada; reportedly the church has an extremely heavy emphasis on Christian Zionism and especially in targeting Jewish people for conversion, and also seems to have been heavily involved in dominionist politics as well. Faith Bible Chapel appears to be a neopentecostal church whose affiliation is not broadcast on its website, and it uses quite a lot of "Joel's Army" buzzwords in its website; based on the church's history page, it seems to be a daughter of Bethel Biblical, a neopente church in the area that is likewise heavily into conversion of Jewish people. Both are likely "stealth Assemblies" congregations; "Faith Bible Chapel" seems to be a very popular and common name for Assemblies churches in general, and there are indications that the Dream Center of Denver, CO is run by Faith Bible Chapel ("Dream Center" is a chain of "faith based rehabs" run by the Western Conference of the Assemblies of God, and any linkages between churches and "Dream Centers" are in fact dead giveaways these are in fact Assemblies-affiliated).

Update 5:01pm: Still more info coming out; apparently the shooter was largely homeschooled and the state of Colorado has no educational records of him past the third grade; the shooter also apparently was still living with his parents and had attended Colorado Christian University for a course or two (CCU has a bibolatrous statement of faith, and has attempted lawsuits against Colorado Department of Education officials who refuse to render state financial aid to the university due to its sectarian nature; CCU has claimed falsely to be nondenominational, but is in fact a Southern Baptist Convention-run college).

More and more, this is looking like a tragic case of a walkaway who snapped :( With the increasing emphasis on isolation of dominionist's kids in the manner that Matthew Murray was apparently isolated, one fears how many more cases we may see like this.

Update 10:17pm: More details have come out which--more and more--point to a very unfortunate case of someone raised in an abusive group whose life ended in tragedy. Among other things, there is evidence to suggest he is not so much a walkaway but a "throwaway", someone kicked out of a coercive religious group; apparently he was let go by YWAM in 2002 due to health issues "preventing him from being a missionary", and was also apparently kicked out of CCU and had planned to attend Oral Roberts University before being discouraged by costs of tuition. His brother is apparently attending ORU, and apparently the entire family is deeply dominionist and all of the children have been correspondence-schooled using dominionist curricula from their earliest childhoods. In both the case of YWAM and CCU, it appears that Murray may have been sending them hate mail ever since.

The security guard who ultimately shot Murray</a> has since been interviewed (warning: interview is likely to be triggering to walkaways from neopente dominionist churches); apparently she only fairly recently joined the church, but has worked as a security guard for Messengers International and as a police officer in Minneapolis in the 1990s. Messengers International is a ministry operated by preacher John Bevere; Bevere's ministry is connected with the Assemblies and in particular Hillsong A/G in Australia, and is a "Joel's Army" practitioner who has his own section on Deception In The Church (an evangelical Christian site highly critical of neopente dominionism). Bevere explicitly promotes "Prosperity Gospel", has been specifically noted in histories of "latter rain" theology (the theology ancestral to "Joel's Army" theology), is explicitly neopente dominionist in both the theological and political senses, and also explicitly promotes Joel's Army theology as a "restoration of the church". (Yes, you're reading this right: the "security guard" who had her own gun in church is apparently a security guard of a particularly nasty Joel's Army preacher.)

There are also indications of another, all-too-frequent and all-too-sad common occurence in neopentecostal dominionist groups in particular. Namely, it seems Matthew Murray ended up a throwaway from YWAM due to a psychotic break--either the result of psychiatric injury (people have ended up being hospitalised due to psychotic breaks directly caused by Assemblies-style "deliverance ministry" services) and/or as initial presenting signs of schizophrenia. (Another sad, fatal case of an Assemblies church's failure to recognise signs of mental illness and refer the person in question to appropriate mental health facilities is with Deanna Laney, who murdered her children (and left one in a persistent vegetative state) by stoning after stating visions she was seeing in psychotic breaks as "prophecies" at her church.)

And with that noted, here are a few other thoughts and notes:

a) For starters, this gives more evidence to New Life Church being a de facto Assemblies church or at least an "Assemblies Daughter" so closely wedded that it essentially operates as an "autonomous Assemblies" church; the shootings involved not only New Life itself but a Youth With A Mission post at the associated World Prayer Center. (YWAM itself is an Assemblies frontgroup, and New Life has been known to host some Assemblies ministries popular in megachurch "Assemblies daughters" like the Royal Rangers.)

b) I've said it before, I'll say it again: Violence, at least against groups like this, is dumb and wrong (self-defense is another issue, but I'm talking about someone shooting up a church or vandalising churches and such). It makes us all look bad.

As a related aside, this community will not tolerate posts in this thread advocating violence against dominionists. As I will note below, there is likely to be some amount of increased scrutiny of pretty much all forums where walkaways are a signifigant part of the population; this is something that can also get the community in serious trouble, even banned. People who promote this stuff WILL be shut down. 'Nuff said.

c) If the guy was trying to take out YWAM (as is now speculated to be the case)...I strongly do not approve of his actions, but at the same time I am also sadly not entirely surprised that such a tragedy would eventually happen. YWAM is easily one of the most coercive neopente dominionist groups known, and probably the most abusive of the fifty-odd or more known frontgroups of the Assemblies of God (and, like many of the Assemblies frontgroups, plays itself off as a "parachurch" org); multiple exit counselors consider YWAM to be highly abusive including Rick Ross Institute and Steve Hassan's Freedom of Mind Institute. In addition to "Joel's Army" theology, the group actively promotes cell-church models (in a similar manner to Maranatha and in the Assemblies as a whole), an extensive theology of "territorial spirits" and "spiritual mapping" that pulls on Scientology-esque practices in "deliverance ministry" common to abusive neopente dominionist groups.

As noted below, the fact he was a throwaway likely exacerbated any existing issues.

It should be emphasized that his actions were *not* in any way appropriate, though. There are far better--and far more effective--ways to fight coercive groups that do NOT involve shooting up a church.

At the same time, there is also a chance that PTSD or something similar may be involved. We may never know the full story.

d) It is now known that the shooter was a "throwaway" from YWAM and possibly active on at least one walkaway forum--so *all* forums in which walkaways are active are likely to get increased scrutiny over the next few days to weeks.

According to a mail from an Ex-Pentecostals admin that was sent out to all members of the community this morning, reportedly an unknown individual posted a number of threatening posts on the forums between the time of the two attacks; the FBI has been forwarded the info, and there is apparently enough concern that provisions are being made for backup forums.

THIS is why we can't tolerate promotion of violence--we're *all* going to be under the microscope. We can help out much more by educating people about the coercive nature of these groups, how they damage people, how many of these groups have had a fifty-year plan of essentially taking over the US and setting up these coercive tactics as the law of the land. Threatening violence is just like wrestling with a pig here--you both get dirty and the pig likes it.

e) As noted, the shooter is in fact not only a multigenerational walkaway--someone raised in a coercive group--but also a throwaway. Throwaways are walkways who end up as walkaways who did not voluntarily leave their group, but were forced out; throwaways probably have the greatest recovery issues of any type of escapee from abusive groups, because they did not choose to leave and because (as a general rule) throwaways are multigenerational walkaways to boot. The "Lost Boys" of the FLDS communities of northern Colorado and some members of the Phelps family (largely disowned by the familial cult) are classic examples of "Throwaways", as are many LGBT people who were raised in abusive neopentecostal churches who have had to run away for their personal safety; a study of "throwaways" who were raised in the Exclusive Brethren show quite a lot of longterm issues with socialisation and trust, a great deal of which are related not only to having been raised in coercive groups but some of which are directly related to the abandonment.

f) One thing of note, too--there are also indications mental illness may have been involved. Coercive religious groups (and YWAM certainly qualifies, as do many Assemblies churches and the denomination as a whole) do have biases with recruitment of mentally ill individuals, and psychiatric injuries (of the sort caused by involvement in coercive groups, including especially those promoting "deliverance ministry" and cell-churches) are known to trigger mental illness in susceptible individuals; in general, as well, neopentecostal dominionist groups are far less likely to refer mentally ill members to appropriate aid (often labeling them as "possessed" and in need of "deliverance", or--even more disturbing--on occasion confusing psychotic breaks as utterances from God).