Stop the Murder

Bishop Scott Jones


Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” The senseless violence at Santa Fe High School last week violates God’s plan for individuals, communities, and our world. The deaths of ten students and two teachers at the hand of another student is an outrage. Unfortunately, it follows upon the deaths of 17 students at Parkland High School in Florida and the deaths of 26 persons at the Sutherland Springs Baptist Church. Going back a little further, a white supremacist murdered African-Americans in a Bible study at Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

How do we, as Christians, respond to such violence? Murder violates the sixth commandment wherever, and however, it happens. But when children are killed in school, and worshippers are killed in church, we know something incredibly evil is at work in our midst.

Some people pin the evil on the individuals who committed such acts. Others note the prevalence of violence in our movies, video games, and entertainment. Others note that guns are readily available both legally and illegally in our society. While shootings of children draw most of our anger and fear, domestic violence, guns, and gang violence in impoverished neighborhoods are constant sources of death among us.

How should we respond?

First, we must pray. After the Santa Fe shooting, I quickly posted a statement that stated, “I grieve, pray and weep with the families of the victims at Santa Fe High School and others involved.”

Next, we must serve. When the leadership of Aldersgate United Methodist Church learned of the Santa Fe tragedy, the church opened its doors as a place for the Red Cross and law enforcement officials to serve all of those affected. Additionally, United Methodists teachers, students, and school officials have been on the front lines of helping their community respond to the tragedy.

We must give. Aldersgate UMC has set up the Jarod Black Scholarship Fund at the Texas Methodist Foundation to help students with special needs to go to college. Jarod was a United Methodist student killed in the Santa Fe Shooting.

But is there a fourth step? Should we work as a society to find feasible proposals that will make such violence less likely in the future?

Many of our United Methodist people own guns and use them for lawful purposes. Others abhor guns and want to see them reduced or eliminated from private ownership. We are not of one mind, and workable solutions are highly controversial.

Finding an answer won’t be easy, but we have to keep trying. I urge that the question of how we reduce the level of gun violence in our society should be a topic of urgent conversation in as many places as possible.

In the midst of such evil, what would Jesus do?

Scott J. Jones