In the recent shooting at Umpqua Community College Oregon, the shooter allegedly targeted Christians. The gunman killed nine people and wounded nine others before shooting himself, according to NBC News.
A survivor, Tracy Hue, said that the shooter first shot a student in a wheelchair, according to CNN. Then he told several students to stand up and asked if they were Christians; when the students said yes, he shot them.
However, Hue told The New York Times that religion had nothing to do with the shooting.
“I don’t think Christianity or religion had anything to do with him killing people,” Hue said. “If it really did have something to do with it, when he came in, first he would have asked everybody to say what their religion was before he started shooting them.”
Despite the evidence of witness testimony, there is controversy over whether or not the shooter singled out Christian students in direct response to their faith.
After hearing that Christians were targeted, many Christians felt their fellow believers had been persecuted for their faith. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson led a social media response that made #IAmAChristian go viral.
Tracy Balzer, director of Christian formation, said when people have to choose between their life and their faith, they are enduring the ultimate test.
Mattie Cannon, junior child and family studies major, said she remembers Facebook “blowing up” with #IAmAChristian after the shooting happened.
After hearing about the shooting in Oregon, Cannon said she was scared. She started to think about how this situation might have played out at John Brown University.
“I would want to say ‘Yeah, I am a Christian’,” Cannon said, but she added that she does not know what she would do in the moment.
This was not the first shooting that allegedly targeted Christians. During the Columbine High School massacre in 2000, a girl named Cassie Bernall kept her faith even when the price was her life. When shooters asked Bernall if she believed in God, she answered yes. Because of her response, she was killed.
There have been 52 school shootings so far in 2015 and thirty of these shootings were attacks that ended in injury or death. The other 21 shootings were a “mix of attempted or completed suicides, accidental shootings or instances in which a gun was fired at campus, including grade schools and colleges, but no one was injured,” according to ABC News.
After the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College, President Obama is reconsidering an executive order that would require background checks for all gun sales.
Many of the presidential candidates have discussed gun control and gun violence since the shooting. The issue is important to many voters, and will be a major topic in the remaining presidential debates.
Even though the U.S. is a country that legally supports freedom of religion and the right to bear arms, we should not be surprised when things like this happen, Balzer said.
Balzer said she does not worry herself with the possibility that her life might be threatened because of her faith. No matter the circumstance, she believes God will always give her strength.
Even if the claims of Christian persecution are in dispute, Balzer said of denying the faith, “the cost is too high to say no, because of what is said in the verse Matthew 10:33.”