Sunday, July 26, 2009

Church Gunman Left Online Rant Between Shootings - New Life Church, Bill Gothard, Jeanne Assam

Church Gunman Left Online Rant Between Shootings

Murray's Writings Echo Columbine Gunman's Manifesto

POSTED: 10:20 am MST December 11, 2007
UPDATED: 6:04 pm MST December 11, 2007

Web site postings that authorities believe were the work of shooter Matthew Murray paint a picture of a young man angry at his religious home-schooling, enraged with organized religion and furious with Youth With A Mission.His rage explodes in a posting that appeared to have been made between the shootings in Arvada and Colorado Springs on Sunday, saying, "You christians brought this on yourselves ... I'm coming for EVERYONE soon and I WILL be armed to the @#%$ teeth and I WILL shoot to kill. .... God, I can't wait till I can kill you people."Murray, who police said shot and killed two people at the missionary center and two people at the megachurch, copied from the manifesto of Columbine High School shooter Eric Harris in his post on a site for ex-Pentecostals.

"Feel no remorse, no sense of shame, I don't care if I live or die in the shoot-out. All I want to do is kill and injure as many of you as I can especially Christians who are to blame for most of the problems in the world."The rant was posted at 11:03 a.m. -- about 10 hours after the first shooting at the Youth With A Mission and two hours before the shooting at New Life Church. It was posted by "nghtmrchld26, " whom authorities believe was Murray.The only change of substance Murray made to Harris's writings was to replace the name of Harris target, classmate and neighbor Brooks Brown, with "Christians who are to blame for most of the problems in the world."This is the rest of that posting from Sunday afternoon:
    "Well all you people out there can just kiss my a** and die. From now on I don't give a @#%$ about what you mutha f____ have to say, unless I respect you which is highly unlikely, but for those of you who do happen to know me and know that I respect you, may peace be with you and don't be in my line of fire, for the rest of you, you all better @#%$ hide in your houses because I'm coming for EVERYONE soon."No I am not crazy, crazy is just a word, to me it has no meaning, everyone is different, but most of you @#%$ heads there in society, going to your everyday @#%$ jobs and doing everyday routine shi____y things, I say @#%$ you and die ...."DEAD PEOPLE DON'T ARGUE. My belief is that if I say something, it goes. I am the law ... Dead people can't do many things like argue, whine, @#%$, complain, name, rat out, criticize, or even @#%$ talk. So that's the only way to solve argument with all you f__heads out there, I just kill. God, I can't wait till I can kill you people, I'll just go to some downtown area in some big city and blow up and shoot everything I can."You break my back but you won't break me ... all is black but I still see...shut me down, knock me to the floor... shoot me up, @#%$ me like a whore, trapped under ice, comfortably cold, I've gone as low as you can go ... feel no remorse, no sorrow or shame .... time's gonna wash away all pain I made a God out of blood not superiority I killed the king of deceit and now I sleep in anarchy."
The last part of that posting is from the song "Anarchy" by rock band KMFDM. It is the same lyrics that Columbine gunman Harris had posted.Before that last post, he had written a post saying goodbye to everyone in the forum, thanking them for listening to him."You guys were awesome. It's time for me to head out and teach these ******* a lesson ... See you all on the other side, we're leaving this nightmare behind to a better place," he wrote.At least one visitor to the site was alarmed and contacted the FBI promptly, before the second attack, the site's administrator said. But the FBI would not immediately confirm that.Denver FBI spokeswoman Rene Vonder Haar said the agency began an investigation immediately after receiving a phone call at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. She refused to discuss the nature of the call but said the information was passed on to police in Arvada and Colorado Springs.

Posts Show Murray's Anger At Christianity, Homeschooling

In the weeks before the shooting, nghtmrchld26 posted a number of messages about his own pain, despair and fury toward Christianity.In another posting on Dec. 1, on the Web site, nghtmrchld26 posted wrote about the "insane things" he went through in Christian homeschool.
    "I remember the beatings and the fighting and yelling and insane rules and the Bill Gothard bull**** and then trancing out ... I remember how it was like every day was Mission Impossible trying to keep the rules or not get caught. My mother's a f***ing psycho too, her and her whole church and Christian family."We both went through some insane stuff growing up in The Nightmare that outsiders just do not understand."Of course people will say the usual fake answers 'just stop being this way and be happy from now on ...' 'We don't have the time and the energy to give a s*** about you ...''You're not the only one who has it bad' 'I had it a lot worse than you and I'm happy and doing great' 'You're not popular you know ... no one likes you very much.'"'It's almost like you've come back from a war and are having flashbacks.'" ONE MORE, just ONE MORE bit of psychological abuse from your mother and you WALK, you are OUT THAT DOOR saying,'I won't live like this anymore EVER.'"I'm not getting any younger and it's time for the abuse to stop. Just because I'm no one of the "Beautiful People" just because other people don't understand or because I'm not popular does not mean I need to take any more s*** from anyone."
He ends that post with "Cherish Your Life."Nghtmrchld26 had been posting to the site for at least 11 months, ranting against conservative religious organizations."The way I see it, why should we allow some Pentecostal charlatan "prophet," or church or group such as C. Peter Wagner or YWAM/King's Kids Denver or other self-appointed "source of Truth" like Bill Gothard to dictate who's going to hell and who's not and who's accepted and who's out casted?," he wrote Oct. 6. "I remember growing up in pentecostalism/evangelicalism, we were always told to support republicans/conservatives and to hate those evil satanic democrats. Jesus never said to put trust in any political leaders." "We'll make our own religion and be our own God's instead listening to some abusive pedophile church like what I was raised in telling us who's 'saved' and who's not," the person wrote. "During this dark period I've realized this is not the way just to be a martyr. I can't walk alone any longer and I'll fight for the ones who can't fight. If I lose at then least I tried. If I have to give my life you can have it."

The YWAM Connection

One post, called "My YWAM Horror Story," complained about being removed from the Arvada youth mission program. "Why was I told that I couldn't be a missionary because I wasn't 'social enough'? I was told that I was 'an introvert,"' nghtmrchld26 wrote. "Everyone else got to go on their outreaches except for a few who lied about smoking (cigarettes). The authoritarianism and hypocrisy is outrageous."People on the discussion board tried to help Murray, but Murray appeared to reject offers of psychological help. "I've already been working with counselors," he wrote. He added: "I have a point to make with all this talk about psychologists and counselors 'helping people with their pain.' It's so funny how many people want to help you and love you and counsel you and `work with you through your pain' when there's money involved."Murray also writes that he is deeply moved by rock music from Madonna to Marilyn Manson, calling it his "drug addiction.""Well, one of the main persons who has helped make this drug a powerful force in my life has been Marilyn Manson," he writes in a Nov. 11 post titled "Secret Addiction."

A former roommate took this photo of Matthew Murray performing in a December 14, 2002, Christmas program.
A picture of Murray, obtained by CNN, shows a pale, scrawny young man, wearing thick glasses and skull cap. The picture was taken by Richard Werner, who was working at the missionary center in Arvada in 2002, when Murray was going through the discipleship program.

Murray Was Thrown Out Of Youth With A Mission

Police said in 2002, Murray had been thrown out of Youth With A Mission, the site of the first shooting where staff members Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Philip Crouse, 24, were killed.Colorado Springs police said the "common denominator in both locations" was Youth With a Mission. The training center maintains an office at the 10,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, the site of the second shooting.The victims at New Life Church -- sisters Stephanie Works, 18, and Rachel Works, 16 -- were involved with a summer outreach organized by New Life Church and a ministry of YWAM, according to a statement released by Youth With A Mission.The statement said that Murray was "briefly a student at the YWAM Arvada training centre in 2002."Murray was enrolled in a Discipleship Training School but did not complete the program, which is a 12-week classroom course followed by a 12-week field assignment."Murray did not complete the lecture phase of his Discipleship Training School, nor did he participate in the field assignment," the statement said. "The program directors felt that issues with his health made it inappropriate for him to do so. Murray left the Arvada training center and no one at the facility recalls that he has made any other visits or had any communication with the center since that time."Several agencies searched Murray's home in unincorporated Arapahoe County, where he lived with his parents, looking for additional weapons and his computer.In a search warrant affidavit, investigators said Murray attended a home-based computer school and worked at his computer for three to five hours a day for the past two years. Police said Murray's only previous brush with the law was a traffic ticket earlier this year.Murray died at New Life Church after an exchange of gunfire with volunteer security guard Jeanne Assam.Assam wounded him with several shots and forced him on the ground. According to the report of the El Paso County coroner, Murray died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, though police and church leaders credited Assam's bravery with averting a greater tragedy.Assam, an ex-Minneapolis police officer, said her faith allowed her to remain steady under pressure."It seemed like it was me, the gunman and God," she said, her hands trembling as she recounted the shooting during a news conference.

Sarah Palin, faith-based mayor

Sarah Palin, faith-based mayor

How the vice-presidential nominee brought fringe biblical teachings to her work as the chief of Wasilla, Alaska.
Editor's note: You can find Salon's complete coverage of Sarah Palin here.
By Sarah Posner

Sarah Palin
AP Photo/Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman
Mayor Sarah Palin in her office in Wasilla, Alaska, in October 1996.

Sept. 18, 2008 | In April 2000, under the direction of then-Mayor Sarah Palin, the Wasilla City Council passed a resolution declaring itself a "City of Character." Adopted unanimously, the resolution pledged that the city would "do all in its power" to promote "positive and constructive character qualities which distinguish between right and wrong," which the resolution predicted could work a range of wonders, from reducing juvenile delinquency to increasing corporate profits.
Thanks to Palin's efforts, Wasilla is now among roughly 200 cities nationwide (and others in 27 countries around the world) that have committed themselves -- in name, at least -- to following the teachings of the International Association of Character Cities (IACC), an organization that purports to be secular but is modeled on the evangelical teachings of the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP).
Palin's personal connection to IACC, and her efforts to bring its agenda to Wasilla as mayor, sheds new light on her connections to the Christian far right, as well as her willingness to infuse government with its ideals rooted in religion. Her championing of IACC principles raises further questions about Palin's views on running government, including the hiring and firing of government employees, an area in which she has come under intense scrutiny in part due to her involvement in "trooper gate."
By becoming a City of Character, Wasilla under Palin committed to adhering to 49 "character qualities" as outlined by the IACC, which are secularized versions of IBLP's 49 "character qualities" derived from the Bible. Critics have charged that the organization and its affiliated Character Training Institute are for all intents and purposes a front group for the evangelical IBLP.
IBLP was founded in 1974 by evangelist Bill Gothard "for the purpose of introducing people to the Lord Jesus Christ," and is "dedicated to giving individuals, families, churches, schools, communities, governments, and businesses clear instruction and training on how to find success by following God's principles found in Scripture." IBLP claims to have taught over 2.5 million people its Basic Life Principles seminar, and boasts assets exceeding $100 million, an affiliated correspondence college course program and an unaccredited law school.
The IACC, says its director, Steven Menzel, is not a religious organization. Instead, he points to its practical effects. When IACC's founder, Oklahoma City businessman Thomas Hill, was having difficulties with the workforce of his company, Kimray, in the 1990s, IACC legend has it that his adoption of Gothard's "character approach" led to a 90 percent drop in workers' compensation claims and a 60 to 70 percent drop in turnover. "The change in that company was so profound," said Menzel, that local companies asked Hill to teach "character" to them as well, leading to the Character First program that is the backbone of IACC and CTI.

Palin, Menzel confirmed, learned how Wasilla could become a City of Character at an IACC conference held at IBLP's International Training Center in Indianapolis in April 2000. A conference brochure shows that Gothard and other speakers affiliated with IBLP taught several of the sessions. The conference included a videotape presentation on the separation of church and state by David Barton, a regular on the Christian right speaking circuit who argues that the separation of church and state is a "myth."
Although Menzel and the IACC's materials insist that the program Hill launched at his company is secular, IBLP's Web site boasts that as a result of Hill's efforts, Kimray "benefited from the application of Biblical principles." Menzel admitted to the Texas Observer two years ago that "these are biblical principles." Hill has ties to Gothard dating back to 1974; he served on IBLP's board of directors from 1993 to 2005, and is currently on its "board of reference."
Gothard's teachings, and his implementation of them, are highly controversial even among evangelical Christians. Based on seven "non-optional" biblical principles, Gothard demands obedience to "God-ordained authorities, such as parents, government, and the church."
In 2003, the flagship evangelical magazine Christianity Today observed, "an important issue to consider regarding Gothard's influence is that it is directed to the core leadership of our nation's conservative Christian churches. Gothard has largely succeeded in reaching that audience. While many have winked at Gothard's teachings on authority, what's more alarming is how readily his supporters accept his interpretation of Scripture," which he reads "through an authoritarian lens."
The teachings have bubbled beneath some disturbing events. Matthew Murray, who shot two people at a Colorado church last December, blamed his troubles on his authoritarian home-school curriculum from IBLP. Gothard denied that his curriculum played any role in Murray's dysfunction.
In Indianapolis, a City of Character, an IBLP-run juvenile center -- housed in the same building where Palin attended the April 2000 conference -- was embroiled in an investigation of child abuse, including spanking and restraining children and committing them for days to the solitary confinement of a "prayer room" without food. The center was cleared after a state investigation in 2004, although it did abandon the practice of spanking while under scrutiny, according to news reports.
Through its Character First training seminars, IACC has spread its gospel of character to local government officials like Palin as well as to Fortune 500 companies, law enforcement agencies, federal government agencies, and the private prison giant Corrections Corporation of America, which uses the character training in its prisons. Character First principles are taught in hundreds of public schools across the country.
Each of the 49 character qualities, as outlined by Gothard, have a biblical basis and are therefore required for believers to fulfill God's goal "to transform them into the image of His Son so that they may be a reflection of the character of Christ." The character quality of diligence, for example, is rooted in Colossians 3:23 ("Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,") meaning, for Gothard, that one should "visualiz[e] each task as a special assignment from the Lord and us[e] all my energies to accomplish it."

IACC's secularized version requires one to "invest my time and energy to complete each task assigned to me," and is compared, like Gothard's version, to the diligence of a beaver. (Each character quality is linked to an animal, although apparently none to the barracuda.)
The desired implementation of a City of Character's mission is somewhat murky. Menzel advocates using the character qualities as a guide for hiring or promoting employees, and suggested advertising the "character quality of the month" through posters and billboards. He could not point to a policy initiative Palin undertook as mayor to advance the character initiative, and he expressed disappointment that Wasilla, Alaska's only City of Character, had not done more to advance the cause.
But Sandy Holladay, who heads the Alaska Councils of Character, which works with the IACC to encourage more municipalities to become Cities of Character, notes ways in which the teachings permeated the town government under Palin. Holladay, who said she met Palin once, in 2001, said she recalled that Wasilla put the teachings' "character quality of the month" on city employee paychecks and utility bills, and displayed posters provided by the CTI. (Utility bills in Wasilla began bearing the words, "Wasilla: A City of Character! Help us promote good character in our community!" shortly after the resolution passed.)
Mary Bixby, executive assistant to Wasilla's current mayor, Dianne Keller, said that the city no longer sends a representative to the CTI conferences, but it still receives materials from the organization. The city gives out certificates of good character to citizens who do "heroic deeds," she said, like turning in a lost wallet to the police department, and recognizes employees of "good character" in the employee newsletter. She said she admires the book outlining all the character traits, which she did not view as religious in nature, and added she would like to do more to study and promote it.
Menzel maintains that Palin exhibited the character quality of discernment, because after she took in the program at the Indianapolis conference in 2000 "she immediately returned to Wasilla and implemented it." Menzel described discernment as "understanding the deeper reason of why things happen." (Gothard describes it as "the God-given ability to understand why things happen.")
But perhaps above all, Menzel said, Palin exhibits boldness -- "a confidence in what I have to say or do is true, right, and just." (Gothard's definition, citing Acts 4:29, is "confidence that what I have to say or do is true and just and right in the sight of God.") Menzel added, "I think that really epitomizes her character, that boldness."