Two of the people who escaped the King Soopers grocery store yesterday shortly after a shooter came inside — and eventually murdered ten people — spoke to news reporters afterwards about their experience. They said they ran out of the store through an emergency exit in the back and never caught a glimpse of the killer. Thank goodness they’re (physically) okay.
Neven and Qinlyn Sloan said they returned to the scene shortly afterwards to pray for people and comfort anyone who needed it — which seems beautiful or bizarre, depending on your perspective. Here’s how Neven described his own situation to one local news network, around 3:10 mark below:
… Pretty much the only reason we came back was we wanted to just sit up there and pray for everybody. Because I know this can be such a scary thing without God… People don’t know where they’re going unless we tell them about it. If they die tomorrow, they don’t know if they’re gonna go to Hell or if they’re gonna go to Heaven…
He’s a Christian. He credits God with his survival. He’s going to use this shooting as a way to evangelize. It’s crass, but it’s also not an unusual position for a believer. I certainly don’t want to trash him for having a religious reaction after something so traumatic. Everyone deals with tragedy in their own ways. It’s really not the time to criticize someone for suggesting that a Jewish or atheist or Muslim survivor needs Jesus right now.
That said, he also gave another interview with another local news station where he went even further. I can’t embed the video, but it occurs here around the 5:40 mark when a reporter prompts a response by asking them why they returned to pray for people. Neven said this:
… Yeah, we just want to, like, comfort them and let them know that, like, Satan hasn’t won today. Like, even though this evil thing has happened, like, Satan hasn’t won… Jesus has won. And God has won. I think this is even proof of it, like, how beautiful these mountains are right now…
“Satan hasn’t won today… Jesus has won.”
Ten people are dead. Granted they may not have known that at the time of the interview, but that conversation took place after a mass shooting. If that’s what victory looks like, what the hell is wrong with Jesus? What does the body count need to be before Jesus stops getting credit? Why didn’t God’s Master Plan involve stopping the shooter before he arrived on the scene?
It’s one thing to look for a silver lining in a terrible situation. But pretending this is part of God’s Plan — God’s victory! — is a slap in the face to everyone who just lost a loved one.
I’m sure many survivors who happen to be Christian are thanking God for their outcome. I get that. This isn’t that. This sort of statement is why it’s so hard to pass any kind of meaningful legislation to prevent gun violence; when even a mass shooting is seen as a victory for Christianity and not a predictable consequence of lax gun laws, there’s virtually no pressure on Republicans to change anything.
It’s like celebrating a Bible that survives a house fire while ignoring the faulty wiring that creating the blaze. I’m not expecting the survivors to do the heavy lifting here, but when people react to a mass shooting as if it’s good news for God, there’s no reason to think anything will change.
(Thanks to Bryan for the link)