This is a guest post by Michelle.
[Hemant’s note: Over the weekend, I posted about a disturbing case of triple homicide in Idaho. One of the victims had said on Facebook back in April that she was an atheist. After her name was in the news, a Christian woman named Michelle found that post and commented “Did you face your maker, bet you believe now!”
That bothered me… How could anyone find that appropriate? Someone was murdered, and a Christian’s first thought was to rub it in?! I redacted her name from the post because (1) I didn’t want people to harass her and (2) this wasn’t about one person; it was about a practice I’d seen Christians do on a number of occasions.
In any case, even though her comment was deleted by the time my post went up, people found her name and said some horrible things to her.
We got in touch with each other yesterday and she expressed her sincere remorse for what she had said. I invited her to explain the reason she commented at all, when she realized her mistake, and what’s happened since then. Her response is below.]
Dear readers of this page,
I am the very repentant writer of that nasty comment, and I am writing to you to ask for your forgiveness.
I will try to explain what I was thinking (or not thinking). When I read the story of this woman and her daughter being killed, along with the man’s wife, I became curious like many others who checked out her page after the horrible event. I wanted to know more about her.
As I was scrolling through one of the victim’s timelines, enjoying the pictures and getting a glimpse into her life, I came across her post about Ask an Atheist Day. Call it a lapse in judgement, but my first reaction was that she was now meeting her maker. It’s what I believe and I felt the urge to write it out. I didn’t do it out of love. And I didn’t show any respect for the deceased. I posted out of arrogance, something I know goes against my own beliefs about what God wants. All I can say now is that I’m human and I made a terrible mistake.
Not long after I posted that, I realized I had done something I shouldn’t have and removed it. But the hate messages started arriving. I guess screenshots with my comment and name had been going around and people connected it back to me. [Hemant’s note: I received a tip about the post and took my own screenshot at the time with the comment still there.]
The first message was from someone who knew I had removed the post but said she had a copy and wanted to make sure it spread like wildfire. It seemed to work since her friends began messaging me, also. I didn’t open their messages. I knew what they were about. So I just starting blocking them instead. I eventually suspended my account because I felt they were being hateful.
The woman who sent that message contacted my church — which was listed on my profile — as did a few others. She also posted the article on this site for them to see.
Around the same time, another equally cruel message appeared on the victim’s Facebook wall. It was from a profile that had my name and picture. But I didn’t write it. Someone else must have created a fake profile for that very purpose, trying to fuel the fire. I reported it to Facebook.
I have had major anxiety since all of this happened. I’ve felt sick over this incident. I would just like it to go away. Believe me when I say I realized my mistake not long after I made it, even before the nasty messages began coming in.
I’ve learned an invaluable lesson through all this and I don’t think I’m any better than anyone else. I know most of us have said unkind words, and done things we’ve come to regret, but they usually don’t keep echoing like this one has. I am asking each and every reader here to find it in their hearts to accept my apology. I would appreciate your forgiveness.
I can’t change the past, but I can change my own behaviors moving forward. And if I see someone doing what I did, you can be sure I’ll speak out against it. There’s a time and place to share my personal religious beliefs online, and the aftermath of someone’s murder certainly isn’t on that list.