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The Nashville Shooting – A Window to America’s Soul – CT

This weeks column in Christian Today – here

“I can’t believe the news today
 Oh, I can’t close my eyes and make it go away”
 (Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2)

U2 sang this in the US a day after the Enniskillen bombing in Northern Ireland. It was a performance captured in their rockumentary film, Rattle ‘n’ Hum. A performance whose rawness, emotion and anger was matched only by its desperate pointing to Christ as the only solution.

I was reminded of it as I heard the news of yet another mass shooting in the US. Only, for me, this one was different. This was in a school and church I had been to – The Covenant School and Covenant Presbyterian Church in Nashville.

I didn’t know any of the victims – Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all aged nine, headteacher Katherine Koonce, 60, substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61, and school custodian Mike Hill, 61 – but as a Presbyterian minister myself and the father of two girls, I found it all too easy to imagine the pain and suffering of the parents, and especially the pastor Chad Scruggs, who has had to lead his church and family through the pain and suffering of losing his daughter as well as the others in the church family.

It’s not easy to reflect on this but we have to. How do you comment? Should you? How do you make sense of it? How do you not get angry? I tried to think through this here and as I did so, it came to me that the shootings at a Christian school in Nashville are a window into the soul of modern America – and thus into much of the rest of the Western world.

Firstly, this shooting illustrates the depth of evil, darkness and sorrow in the world, although evil is almost too inadequate a word.

Secondly, this shooting shows that transgenderism has become a divisive and dangerous ideology. The shooter identified as trans – although we don’t yet know the reasons or impact this had upon her motivations. We need to recognise that there are transgender people who need help and support and this woman was certainly one of them. Just 0.1% of people are believed to have genuine GID (Gender Identity Disorder), but trans ideology has spread way beyond that group – and indeed is in danger of harming that group.

The perpetrator of this atrocity (and you will forgive me for not mentioning her name – the former NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was surely right not to name the Christchurch shooter and I agree that denying potential shooters the oxygen of publicity may help hinder future shootings), was a woman who identified as a man, was being medically treated, and clearly had a significant number of mental health issues.

There is a level of violence associated with the transgender movement which is quite chilling. For example, the transgender resistance movement tweeted out hate has consequences and complained about the misgendering of the shooter. What other movement would get away with having a ‘transgender day of vengeance’? What do you think happens to young minds, whose bodies and minds are already harmed, when you tell them that they are victims of a genocide, and that trans people are routinely being murdered every day in our countries? Or when people like Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks tell trans people, “If anyone should get guns it should be trans Americans.”

And what do you think happens when you tell people that those who oppose transgender ideology are literally Nazis? Such hateful language has consequences (as indeed language which would seek to blame all trans people does). For example, when Dan Andrews, the premier of Victoria, labelled Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull and the feminists demonstrating for women’s rights as Nazis/fascists/Far Right, he gave a green light to the mobs in Hobart and New Zealand to violently attack them.

Professor Steven Shaviro, of Wayne State University in the US, was suspended last month after writing in a Facebook post, “I think it is far more admirable to kill a racist, homophobic or transphobic speaker than to shout them down.”


This is another incredibly emotive subject. In the US there have been an average of 1.5 mass shootings per day this year. There are 350 million firearms in a nation of 335 million people. The Nashville shooter had five legal weapons including two assault rifles. I know that it’s not as simple as banning all guns – I suspect you would have a civil war if you tried to do that in the US. But surely there has to be a tightening of gun laws and far more restrictions? Why does anyone need one assault rifle, never mind two?

The media

This is the first mass shooting I have witnessed where some of the mainstream media and some online have come very close to calling the shooter a victim. Some certainly expressed more concern about how trans people might be affected than they did about the deaths of the children and teachers. For example, within hours of the shooting, a US TV station went to a local church to praise its open policies for LGBT people. The implication was clear: if only the Presbyterian church had been more ‘inclusive’, this would not have happened. Victim shaming was on full display. The ideological drivenness of some of the media is distorting truth and denying compassion.

The police

It’s not easy being a policeman. Watching the police at work in Nashville was highly impressive. Their speed and bravery was commendable and surely saved many lives. But sometimes the police stand by. In New Zealand, the police let Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull be mobbed. Why? Recent stories from Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand have shown a worrying politicisation of the police. This will not end well.

The politicians

Politicians have to be very careful about dog whistles – the practice of saying things knowing that they will be seen as a sign to more extremist groups. Premier Dan Andrews of Victoria was quick to associate Keen-Minshull with Nazis. In Australia the Green Senator, Lidia Thorpe called Keen-Minshull “that thing”. In the US, there was the bizarre scene of TV stations cutting to President Joe Biden who was due to make a comment on the shootings, only to have him joking about chocolate chip ice cream. And why have politicians been so reluctant to call this a hate crime? Surely the deliberate targeting of children in a school because of their faith is about as hateful as it can get.

Again, the Nashville shooting highlights the increasing danger to children and women in our cultures. It’s not just that children are sometimes the victims of such horrific violence, but also that some of the ideologies that are now being pushed as State doctrines cause so much damage to impressionable minds. Schools like Covenant Christian are needed more than ever.

And women

It was beyond surreal when a week after Keen-Minshull’s attempted rallies for women’s rights in New Zealand that the prime minister of that country found himself unable to say what a woman is. When asked “what is a woman?” he replied: “I wasn’t expecting that question, so it wasn’t something I pre-formulated an answer on.” The next question should have been, “Prime minister, have you reflected on whether the earth is flat?”

Hatred, guns, violence, confusion, dark ideologies, lies, evil doctrines, mentally ill teenagers, children who need anti-shooter safety lessons; women who are abused and vilified for standing up for women’s rights; political leaders who discriminate and show hatred for groups they don’t like; anger; pain … oh, the darkness!

But, I finish where we came in. With U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday.

“And the battle’s just begun
 There’s many lost but tell me who has won?
 The trenches dug within our hearts
 And mothers, children, brothers, sisters torn apart …”

“… The real battle’s just begun, to claim the victory Jesus won”

Jesus defeated death, hatred, violence and evil. We must seek to be salt in a decaying world, and light in a dark one.

Easter Sunday is the answer to Bloody Sunday. The Resurrection is the answer to the hopelessness of the Nashville shooting. Preach Him!

David Robertson leads The ASK Project in Sydney, Australia. He blogs at The Wee Flea

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  1. Thank you for your post. I’ve followed your blog for a while but didn’t realize you had ever visited our church. I agree with everything you’ve said except for one thing. I’m not bothered that this hasn’t been labeled a “hate crime”. To me, at least, all murders and violent crimes are done out of hate. The advent of the the term “hate crime” in recent decades is, as much as anything an attempt by a group to further an agenda. While whichever particular agenda they may be advocating may be one we agree with or not or support or not, in any event, whatever the motive for unjustly taking another human life, do we somehow benefit by elevating one crime over another? I understand that some crimes are more heinous than others, but murder is already the most heinous of all. Does doing so help in the healing process or does it increase the possibility of fostering hate for the perpetrator? What would Christ have us do?

    1. Bravo ! You , sir , have apprehended the “hate crime” fallacy . You also took the trouble to explain it pellucidly and succinctly.

      Thank you .

      Next stop , “Hate Speech?”

    2. Theres clearly a division in society.

      If you are a Christian then this is a shocking and unusual hate crime targeting your community.

      If you are a public school parent then this is the 400th (really!) school shooting this year alone. And the number of hoaxes (which still lead to kids and parents being very afraid & to days of education lost) in the thousands.

      If American Christians really cared about life then they would use their considerable influence with the Republican party to demand protection for *all* school children, not just the Christian ones. Instead the “Christians” in America tell us guns are more important than childrens lives.

  2. If a Synagogue school is attacked it’s the fault of ( nominally Christian ) Whites.

    If a Mosque school is attacked it’s the fault of ( nominally Christian ) Whites .

    If a Church school is attacked it’s the fault of White Christians’ intolerance of mentally ill female impersonators.

    1. I think you cannot ignore the political environment, in which the political party most closely supported by the Christian establishment in the US has been encouraging fear of minorites and pushing legislation that signals that minorities are to blame for all the problems in the US (but not the guns!)

      In 2016 Trump won the election by promising to ban Muslims from the US
      Certainly for several decades there has been an undercurrent of anti semitism in much of the Republican political innuendo … “funded by Soros”/”American Jews are disloyal” etc
      We have seen already around 450 bills in red states removing basic rights from LGBT people. We are told even talking about LGBT people is dangerous, but guns are not

  3. It’s becoming more and more apparent that the problem with the world lies deep within the human heart. It is a world or iniquity, an irredeemable evil. Only Christianity has the answer – a new heart made in the true likeness of its creator. The case for Christ becomes ever more compelling.

  4. The witness of Gordon Wilson and Joan Wilson should be remembered each time the Enniskillen bombing is spoken about. Joan Wilson died 31-3-23 RIP.

  5. As always, insightful comments. The evil is indeed unspeakable, yet it must be dealt with.

    The naming of a particular group of people some would like eliminated is not a new tactic. Hitler used it to turn public opinion against the Jews. Haman in the Book of Esther proposed the same tactic for the same people and the same reason.

    The current administration labels people they want to eliminate as “MAGA Republicans” of which I am proudly one. What is wrong with wanting to Make America Great Again? You will find many of those despised Republicans in church pews on Sunday mornings.

    The term “assault rifle” is used by the media and politicians to describe a weapon that has been illegal for quite some time.

    Sadly the media does not tell you that killings of numbers equal to Nashville happen every week in Chicago.

    I believe the Nashville police did an exemplary job. But, there were still 14 minutes when lives might have been saved.

    We live in dangerous times.

    I’m thankful, like the lyric from Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, I have read the book and we come out on top.

    Keep up the great work.

    1. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make America Great Again.

      The issues that most Americans have with the MAGA movement have nothing to do with the name.

      It’s the lawlessness, violence and immorality that are the problem.

  6. It’s really simple .

    If Christians would simply accept us , we wouldn’t have to shoot you .

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