Are Christians being targeted for violence?
Killings in U.S. religious centers in 2007
Matthew Murray's mass murders:
||Youth With a Mission Center
|Mental illness? Rage
||New Life Church
||Colorado Springs, CO
|Mental illness? Rage
2007-DEC-09: Youth With a Mission Center shootings, Arvida,
Matthew Murray, 24, killed two and injured another two
persons at the Youth with a Mission Center in Arvida, CO. He had entered
the center office and asked for permission to spend the night there. He was
refused, and then opened fire with a handgun.
He killed Tiffany Johnson, 26, who had traveled on missions to Egypt, Libya
and South Africa with YWAM. Also killed was Philip Crouse, 24. He had helped
build a foster home at a Crow reservation in Montana. Staff members Dan
Griebenow, 24, and Charlie Blanch, 22, were wounded. 1
After the shootings at the Center, Murray headed south to Colorado Springs.
He posted a message on the AFP forum at 11:03 AM between the two attacks. He
used the name "nghtmrchld26."
"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."
He copied these words verbatim from the message that Eric Harris used just before he and Dylan Klebold massacred students at Columbine High School
Murray also wrote:
"God, I can't wait till I can kill you people. 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." 2
2007-DEC-09: New Life Church shootings at Colorado Springs, CO:
New Life is a charismatic mega-church about 70 miles (110 km) south of Arvida,
CO. It is Colorado's largest church with about 10,000 members. New Life
was founded by Ted Haggard who was fired in 2006 after admitting that some
allegations of sexual activities with a male
prostitute were true.
Murray arrived during the second morning service with an assault rifle, handguns and a thousand rounds of
ammunition. He killed two sisters Rachel, 16, and Stephanie Works, 18 in the
parking lot. One had just returned from an overseas mission trip. He injured
church members David Works, Judy Purcell and Larry Bourbannais. 1
Jeanne Assam, 42, a volunteer security guard had attended the church's early
service at 9 AM and stood watch in the rotunda as the second service was getting
out. She is one of a group of armed security personnel with a police force or
military background. She shot Murray multiple times. He fell to the ground and
then killed himself with a single round. Assam said that she prayed for the Holy
Spirit to guide her and that her hands did not shake. She said: "It seemed
like it was me, the gunman and God."
All of the four wounded members recovered. Trauma
counseling was set up at Woodmen Valley Chapel for those in distress at the
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Police name shooter," My Fox Colorado, 2007-DEC-10, at:
- Transcript of a press conference with Brady Boyd, Senior Pastor, New Life
Church, 2007-DEC-10, at:
http://www.newlifechurch.org/ This is a PDF file.
- "Reports: Colorado gunman posted anti-Christian writings," CNN, 2007-DEC-11,
Copyright © 2007 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally posted: 2007-DEC-13
Latest update: 2009-SEP-18
Author: B.A. Robinson