‘Christian’ leaders, protestors: God sent the shooter

Susan K. Smith.2
Susan K. Smith

Crazy Faith Ministries

I am struck by the way different people view God.

I am examining and writing about how in this country there is not one God but at least two: the God of White people and the God of Black people.

The God of White people is associated and connected with the religion of empire. That God has been soundly rejected by the likes of James Baldwin, Dr. James Cone and William Jones, who wrote Is God a White Racist?

There may be even more, however. There seems to be a conservative God and a liberal God, or a Republican God and a Democratic God. The God of conservatives and Republicans – members of whom are not only White but many races – is a lot different from the liberals and Democrats, if what I am seeing is accurate. The God of the “Right” stands for and endorses policies and situations, which the God embraced by those on the “Left” would not think of endorsing.

Different races and ethnicities make God into what they want God to be in order to justify their cultural beliefs and political ideology. Both sides do it – or should I say, all believers do it.

There is the phenomenon of being religious but not Christian – because of not following the teachings of Christ – that is rampant throughout the world and in this country. The “religious” often call themselves “Christian” but seem to ignore the command of Jesus to love God with all one’s heart, mind and soul, even though he or she identifies as Christian.

There is clearly a breakdown and a difference in the perception, understanding and worship of “God,” and there is clearly more than one “God” on the religious landscape.

This comes to mind because of something I read this week. Ten years ago, a medical doctor who performed abortions in Texas was gunned down in his church by a pro-choice (anti-abortion) zealot.

Dr. George Tiller was at his place of worship, Wichita Reformation Lutheran Church, when a man who identified himself as being an “evangelical Christian” barged into the narthex and shot Tillman dead. During his funeral, anti-abortion protesters marched outside of the church and one person carried a sign that said, “God Sent the Shooter.”

God? Whose God? Which God?

A God who would “send” someone into a church to kill someone is not the God I know or worship, any more than is the God that ignores oppression and seemingly sanctions it, if the followers of this God are to be believed.

The God who “sent the shooter” is the same God who allowed Emmett Till to be lynched and his murderers go free, is the same God that “sent” preachers and law enforcement officers to lynchings, is the same God who to this day allows injustice to flourish and for the masses to suffer.

That’s not my God.

Rev. Terry Williams, an organizer with the Ohio Religions Coalition for Reproductive Choice wrote in a recent piece that the sentiment behind the “God Sent the Shooter” proclamation is an “offensive, malignant sentiment” and is a “root theological statement of the anti-abortion movement.”

It is the same sentiment that is driving the passage of draconian laws written to prevent women from getting abortions once a fetal heartbeat is felt, regardless of how the pregnancy happened. It is a sentiment, but it is not God.

The God behind that sign is the God that people called on in history (and still do) to support white supremacist thinking. It is the same sentiment that encouraged Dylann Roof to go into Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina in 2015 and kill nine people who were at Bible study. It is the God who sanctioned grown White men to spray firehoses on women and children in Birmingham during the Civil Rights Movement, and the same God whose believers say punished gay people by sending horrendous storms into cities, killing many and making many more suffer, as a Louisiana lawmaker proclaimed in 2016, as recorded in the Independent.

Many who talk like this claim to be Christian, but they clearly do not worship the God that I do.

It is appalling that anyone would say such a horrible thing as “God Sent the Shooter,” but it is even more appalling that those who malign the name and character of God in this way do it unabashedly, without fear of consequence.

That God is foreign to me and to many. It is a God that has been constructed to support white supremacist thought, which includes not only racist thinking but sexist thinking as well.

It is not my God and could never be.

Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. Contact her at revsuekim@sbcglobal.net.

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