Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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Update on church shootings: Now religiously motivated child abuse involved

More and more, it seems the sad, sad case of Michael Murray and his nervous breakdown with semiautomatic weapons (which resulted in not only the loss of his own life but that of five others at a YWAM mission post at Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada as well as New Life Church in Colorado Springs) is appearing to be a very sad and tragic case of someone raised in an incredibly coercive environment who snapped.

From what we know now, Matthew Murray apparently was raised in a "stealth Assemblies" church and was a member of the highly coercive Youth With A Mission before being dismissed for what amounted to a psychotic break; we also know that he was raised in what amounted to a highly coercive environment in general and apparently was a member of Ex-Pentecostals (a major online forum). Notably, the members of Ex-Pentecostals tried to talk Murray out of his planned bloodshed--and, when it became horribly clear what had happened at Arvada--desperately tried to warn the FBI to prevent the tragedy that would later unfold at New Life Church.

Sadly, it seems that Murray's troubles literally began at the cradle--an Associated Press article finally details the levels of hell which Murray experienced as a kid in a dominionist household</a>.

It also appears that Ex-Pentecostals wasn't the only walkaway forum he was on. He also seems to have been correspondence-schooled using one of the most coercive and abusive curricula packages known:

Most information about Murray has become known in recent days through ranting Internet posts that appear to be the shooter's words. On one, a poster called Chrstnghtmr complained of not being able to "socialize normally" after being home schooled and described being an outcast who was always left out of everything.

One posting obtained by the AP was to a site called Independent Spirits, a gathering place for those affected by a strict Christian home schooling curriculum.

The author, again going by the handle Chrstnghtmr, describes going with his mother to a conference at New Life. The poster said he "got into a debate" with two prayer team staff members, who monitored him, then tracked down his mother and "told her a story that went something along the lines of I 'wasn't walking with the lord and could be planning violence.'"
. . .
Chrstnghtmr writes that at age 17, after an attempt at going "all out for Jesus," he plunged into a "dark suicidal depression" because he somehow couldn't live up to the rules. He wrote he felt he was "failing God." Chrstnghtmr describes his parents putting him on two antidepressants after he shared his feelings.

None of it helped, he wrote. "Everyone prayed, they laid hands on me, spoke in tongues over me, I sought out every kind of spiritual help I knew of in charismatic christianity," the post said.
. . .
Other posts also complain of an overbearing mother. At one point, the author said his mother patted him down for CDs, video games and DVDs whenever he returned from an electronics store. In another post, the author lambasts Bill Gothard, a Christian evangelist who developed a strict Bible-based home school curriculum.
. . .
On another Web posting, a person believed to be Murray said that his post-graduation options were limited to missionary work or attending Oral Roberts University, the flagship university of charismatic Christianity. A fast-growing subset of evangelical Christians, charismatics and Pentecostals believe the Holy Spirit continues to show signs and wonders in the world, including speaking in tongues, prophesy and miraculous healings.

Murray ended up enrolled in "disciple training school," a sort of Missionary 101 program run by Youth With a Mission, one of the world's largest evangelical Christian mission groups.

But warning signs soon emerged at the residential program in Arvada, a Denver suburb.

A former YWAM staff member, Michael Werner, told the Rocky Mountain News that Murray was painfully shy and had trouble socializing after growing up sheltered. Later, he exhibited extreme mood swings, spreading rumors about homosexuality at the center and performing dark rock songs by Marilyn Manson and Linkin Park at a 2002 Christmas celebration.

One night, Werner said Murray was chattering to himself and explained he was "just talking to my voices."

Murray was to take a mission trip to Bosnia, but YWAM officials said he was kicked out of the program for unspecified "health reasons."

On the posting on Independent Spirits, Chrstnghtmr described returning home after being ejected from YWAM, where he wrote it was "back to the good old restriction and that is when I started having serious doubts about christianity."

I did a bit of looking up of forums--as it turns out, Independent Spirits is a walkaway forum for survivors of Bill Gothard's tactics; Gothard himself is probably among the most explicitly coercive of all dominionist "Bible-based baby beating" promoters, and promotes not only baby-beating but a highly cultic system in general and is also a major promoter of the "Bible boot camp" industry.

Pagan groups may also now want to be aware that they may be targets of smears too--apparently Murray also attempted to join Ad Astra Oasis shortly before the shootings (he was rejected in October 2006).

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