Dallas Sniper Attack Needs to Be Addressed in Church This Sunday, Christian Leader Urges

A DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) police officer at the Baylor University Hospital emergency room entrance in Dallas.
A DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) police officer at the Baylor University Hospital emergency room entrance in Dallas. | (Photo: Ting Shen/The Dallas Morning News/Handout via Reuters)

Christian pastors and conservative leaders have expressed grief and offered advice on dealing with the killing of five Dallas police officers in a sniper attack, which followed two high-profile killings of black men by police.

"The country reels beneath all this violence," Russell Moore, president of the SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, wrote on his website. "We saw the cellphone videos of black men killed by police officers in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights. We saw a terrorist ambush on police in Dallas, killing at least five officers and injuring seven."

Moore suggested that pastors should speak to the incidents in their sermons on Sunday.

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Dr. Jerry Young, president of National Baptist Convention, USA, and Dr. Ronnie Floyd, the Southern Baptist Convention's immediate past president, released a joint statement, saying, "We are reminded that violence and retaliation are never the solution to our frustrations and anger."

"Every murder is an abomination for presuming to extinguish what belongs only to God," wrote Mark Tooley, editor of the Providence journal.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich addressed racism, saying white Americans "don't understand being black in America."

"It took me a long time and a number of people talking to me over the years to begin to get a sense of this: If you are a normal, white American, the truth is you don't understand being black in America and you instinctively underestimate the level of discrimination and the level of additional risk," Gingrich said, according to The Hill.

"May we stop seeing people as black, white, brown or wearing blue & see them instead as husbands, wives, sons, daughters & children of God," tweeted former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

The Dallas shooter, who was killed by police after the attack Thursday, has been identified as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, an Afghanistan veteran and a resident of Mesquite, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. Three other suspects are in police custody.

"This was a mobile shooter that has written manifestos on how to shoot and move. He did that. He did his damage. But we did our damage to him, as well," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said, according to Los Angeles Times, which reported that bomb-making materials, rifles and a "personal journal of combat tactics" were recovered from his home.

Johnson was a "loner" with no criminal history who "wanted to kill white people" and "especially white officers," police said.

"He appears to have been a lone gunman, and at this point, we cannot see any connections to any foreign or international terrorist organization, or any inspiration from them," Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was quoted as saying.

During worship services on Sunday, pastors should pray specifically for the families of those killed, by name, suggested Moore. Pastors should also lead their congregations in a time of lament, he added. "Too often our worship is discordant from both the example of the Bible and the lived experience of our people. A peppy song service of easy celebration does not speak to a time such as this," he wrote.

Before preaching, pastors should ask where "the minds and affections of your people are," Moore continued, adding that they should address biblical truths which are bound up in this crisis. He also advised them to "start and end with good news."

"May all know that we are resolved as spiritual leaders in this nation, to do whatever we can do to help bring America together," said Dr. Young and Dr. Floyd, who quoted Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.' Now is the time to come together in love and unity, praying for America."

Tooley, who is also president of Institute on Religion & Democracy, a faith-based alliance of Christians who monitor, comment, and report on issues affecting the Church, stressed that assaults on police officers, and on other civil authorities, are "especially evil because they fundamentally attack all society and public order."

He continued, "Anarchy is the enemy of all justice and aspirant public good… God bless and protect all honorable police officers who strive to serve the common good. They are God's ministers for earthly justice and civil order. Even in their failures they are preferable to disorder, which precludes justice and peace for all."

"We've got to rethink what it means to be American and how we function together as an extended family," Gingrich said.

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