Uvalde Shooting and Bloodiest Memorial Day Weekend Are Warning Signals for the Church

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“A string of shootings took place across the United States on one of the bloodiest Memorial Day weekends that left multiple people dead and dozens more injured,” reports the Epoch Times.[1] These 352 shootings come on the heels of America’s second-deadliest K-12 school shooting, which killed 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.[2] Unfortunately, deadly violence, and even school shootings, are no longer particularly uncommon in our nation’s news cycle. It begs the question, “Why?”

President Biden verbalized the thinking of many in his response to the Uvalde shooting: “What struck me was these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world. Why? They have mental health problems. They have domestic disputes in other countries. They have people who are lost. But these kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency that they happen in America. Why?”[3][4]

The data surrounding the question of where America ranks regarding the global frequency of mass shootings is confusing and highly controversial.[5][6][7][8] However, overall violent crime in America has been rising for years. Tucker Carlson reports that, during the first three months of this year, New York’s subway system has experienced a year-over-year increase of 70% in robberies, 28% in felony assaults, and more than 100% in grand larceny. Similarly, ABC News reports, “About 11% of violent crime in the city of L.A. involved a homeless person in 2018, 13% in 2019, and 15% in 2020.” These homeless comprise roughly 1% of the city’s population, but they are involved in what is now nearly one-in-every-five crimes in Los Angeles.[9]

Whether it involves the homeless, violent assaults, school shootings, or any other spike in crime, many mainstream media pundits and political activists are quick to absolve the perpetrators of responsibility, instead shifting blame to the oppressive injustice of our American society. According to this worldview, evil does not exist. Even the most heinous crimes are commonly portrayed as justifiable responses to difficult circumstances. If we could simply be freed from our chains of cultural oppression, then we would naturally rise to our fullest potential. There is only the oppressed and the oppressor; therefore, the touted solution to robberies is government sponsored wealth redistribution, the solution to school shootings is mental health care and increased gun control, etcetera, etcetera.

Popular as this ideology may be, it is entirely wrong. Jeremiah 17:9 teaches that our hearts are deceitful and desperately sick. The problem does not rest in society. The problem rests in our hearts. If we are upset by how our society behaves, then we have nobody to blame but ourselves because our society is merely a reflection of our beliefs. Any change in societal behavior is merely the manifestation of a change in our moral values. Therefore, until our moral values are addressed, we should not expect to see any curbing of violent crime in America.

This is a timely message that we would expect to hear from the American church in times such as this. Instead, it is political commentators who are preaching this idea. In his commentary on the Uvalde shooting, Tucker Carlson observes, “It’s not guns. It’s not the gun lobby. More American families had guns at home 50 years ago than they do now. Accord to the Rand Corporation, which studied this, 45% of American homes had a gun in 1980. In 2016, that had dropped to 32%. So, the problem is not that we’re more armed than we were. The problem is that people have changed. Young men have changed. They’re more violent” (emphasis added).[10]

Although Carlson proceeds to focus on social factors, he is right to note that the onus ultimately rests with the individual. Social factors simply suppress or encourage the evil that is already present in our hearts. Considering the response of Americans to these social factors, Carlson notes, “So people are doing more drugs; they’re more unstable; they’re killing themselves more often, and in some rare cases, they’re killing others. Now what kind of mindset would it take to go murder children in an elementary school?”[11]

Likewise, former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich writes at Fox News, “Evil exists. … Swapping Isaiah for Freud and the Gospels for modern psychology has left a nation of empty souls – and a desperation for meaning. … The West’s rejection of God and salvation, its focus on self and the right to redefine reality, and the assertion of earthly values over spiritual values attract the multitude of nemeses we now face.”[12] He adds, “God warned us in the first of the Ten Commandments: ‘You shall have no other gods before me.’ Today, throughout the Western world, people reject this warning. Far too many people behave as though they have become gods in redefining their sexuality, their right to be addicts, and their right to harm themselves and others. A godless world is a dangerous jungle filled with predators and victims.”[13]

Incredibly, Gingrich’s solution to escalating violent crime begins with acknowledging our dependency upon God. It begins with accepting that we are inadequate, both as individuals and as a nation, to resolve the problem of evil. Gingrich writes:

Here are a few first steps: First, acknowledge evil exists in our society. Second, allow prayer in schools. Students should be allowed to pray freely in circumstances which don’t disrupt classrooms. … Fourth, recognize that bringing God back into public dialogue is essential. The Alcoholics Anonymous 12 steps program is a prime example. Among other things, participants must admit they are powerless; acknowledge they need a greater power to manage their lives; confess their deepest failing to God, themselves, and others; and ask God to forgive and remove those failings from them. … Bringing God back into the public dialogue and acknowledging the existence of evil as a real danger to humanity are important first steps.[14]

How is it that Fox News is providing more timely and relevant spiritual perspective and application to social issues than many of our nation’s churches?  We should not find more spiritual nourishment from our political pundits than we do from our pulpits. Indeed, moments like this serve as an indictment upon the relevancy of our churches.

It wasn’t long ago that the American church faced a similar indictment. Faced with the prospect of a global pandemic that could kill untold numbers of people, Americans did not flock to their churches; they flocked to Costco. They did not seek safety in God; they sought safety from toilet paper and hand sanitizer. They did not receive guidance from their local pastors; they received guidance from Dr. Anthony Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control. They did not seek solace from the community of Christians; they isolated themselves. They did not value the church; they sued the church. In short, they did not consider the American church to be relevant in a time of national crisis. Not only did they label the church non-essential, but they also considered bars, marijuana shops, and strip clubs to be of greater value to society than the church.

It is long past time that we confront the reality that many of our churches have become so ineffectual and irrelevant that our society appears to gain greater value from toilet paper and political pundits than it does from our nation’s churches. But lest we be too quick to point our fingers at our church leadership, let us remember that the church is, by definition, an assembly of God’s people. If we as members of the congregation would meaningfully impact our communities with the truth of God’s Word and the love of Christ, then any lack of leadership from our pastors would matter little to our community.

Truth be told, our churches bear far more in common with the church at Laodicea than we do with the churches in the book of Acts (Rev. 3:14–22). The Laodicean church was prosperous, comfortable, and safe; however, this produced a spirit of apathy. Consequently, Jesus rebukes them, saying, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:15–16).

How many moments of cultural clarity will we, as the American church, ignore before God spits us out of His mouth? How many missed opportunities to minister to a nation in need will we be permitted before God determines that His people will not rise to the occasion and guide our nation back to righteousness? How long will God put up with our apathy before He determines that we will not effect meaningful change, and God determines to personally intervene in judgment upon America?

Rather than pursue the answers to these questions, let’s fully engage with the issues facing our society. Let’s seize every opportunity to apply the truth of God’s Word to the world around us. Let’s boldly address moral matters in our country, regardless of whether they are perceived as being cultural or political issues. And let’s expose evil and confront the wickedness in people’s hearts.

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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1. Roberts, Katabella. “Bloody Memorial Day Weekend Shootings Leave Multiple Dead, More Injured.” US News. Epoch Times, May 31, 2022. Last updated May 31, 2022. https://www.theepochtimes.com/bloody-memorial-day-weekend-sees-mass-shootings-across-us-leaving-multiple-dead-more-injured_4501704.html.

2. Romo, Vanessa. “Texas Community Struggles with Second-Deadliest School Shooting in U.S. History.” National Public Radio, May 25, 2022, 4:50 a.m., ET. https://www.npr.org/2022/05/24/1101037902/texas-elementary-school-shooting-uvalde.

3. Biden, Joseph. “Remarks by President Biden on the School Shooting in Uvalde, Texas.” Briefing Room. White House, May 24, 2022, 8:41 p.m., EDT. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2022/05/24/remarks-by-president-biden-on-the-school-shooting-in-uvalde-texas/.

4. KSAT 12. “President Joe Biden Delivers Remarks after 21 Killed in Uvalde Elementary Shooting.” YouTube video, 18:30. May 24, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNDsf4jbRKE.

5. Kessler, Glenn. “Does the U.S. Lead the World in Mass Shootings?” Politics. Washington Post, September 5, 2018, 3:00 a.m., EDT. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/09/05/does-us-lead-world-mass-shootings/.

6. Lankford, Adam. “Public Mass Shooters and Firearms: A Cross-National Study of 171 Countries.” Violence and Victims 31, no. 2(2016): 187 – 199. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26822013/.

7. Lott, John. “New CPRC Research: How a Botched Study Fooled the World about the U.S. Share of Mass Public Shootings: U.S. Rate Is Lower Than Global Average.” Crime Research, August 2018. https://crimeresearch.org/2018/08/new-cprc-research-how-a-botched-study-fooled-the-world-about-the-u-s-share-of-mass-public-shootings-u-s-rate-is-lower-than-global-average/.

8. Lankford, Adam. “Confirmation That the United States Has Six Times Its Global Share of Public Mass Shooters, Courtesy of Lott and Moody’s Data.” Econ Journal Watch, 16, no. 1 (2019): 69–83. https://econjwatch.org/File+download/1105/LankfordMar2019.pdf?mimetype=pdf.

9. Fox News. “Tucker: There Is Something Really Wrong.” YouTube video, 15:21. May 25, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ui8wgo3iI18&list=WL&index=10.

10. Fox News.

11. Fox News.

12. Gingrich, Newt. “Texas School Shooting Was Evil. Here Are 8 Steps to Confront It.” Opinion. Fox News, May 27, 2022, 2:00 a.m., EDT. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/texas-school-shooting-evil-god-faith.

13. Gingrich.

14. Gingrich.


Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.