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Pastor calls on churches to 'rise above political fray,' 'grieve with those who grieve' after LGBT club shooting

Club Q, Colorado, shooting
Mourners at a memorial outside of Club Q on Nov. 22, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A gunman opened fire inside the LGBT club on Nov. 19, killing five and injuring 25 others. (Photo by Chet Strange/Getty Images) |

Updated 9 PM ET Nov. 22

The pastor of a Colorado church is calling on Christians to “rise above the political fray and focus on God’s glory” following a mass shooting at a nearby LGBT nightclub.

Pastor Kelly Williams has led Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs for more than a quarter century. Following a mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBT nightclub where five people were killed and 18 others were wounded Saturday less than a mile from his church, Williams delivered a message to Christians in an op-ed for The Christian Post.

“What does a church do in this situation?” he asked. “Do we stand up against the things that occurred at this club and let our congregation and online community know that we don’t approve and that the Bible explicitly stands against these matters of morality? Do we ignore the broken hearts surrounded by this event in our community?”

Williams suggested that his church and others should embrace a “third option” that entails following the command set forth by Christ in Romans 12:15 to “Grieve with those who grieve.” He stressed that churches have the ability and obligation to empathize with those who lost loved ones in a tragedy even if they have not “come to Christ.”

“In the sensitive moments soon after a tragedy, it is important we remember, as churches we exist to live out the mission of Jesus to seek and save that which is lost,” he wrote. “The best way to do so is to relate to our fellow image-bearers through the universal language we can all relate to: pain. I have never met anyone who doesn’t have pain in their life. Pain will remain true for all of us throughout our lives whether we come to Christ or not.”

He added: “If we begin with the universal language of pain, we will find the right balance between love and truth. When tragedy strikes a community, the question of ‘why this occurred’ is not always the best one to ask. This question usually takes a long time to unravel and by the time it does the moment has passed. It is important that when a tragedy strikes a community, we immediately ask the question, ‘How can we care?’”

The alleged perpetrator of the mass shooting at Club Q, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, was previously arrested in 2021 for allegedly threatening to harm his mother with a bomb. A statement from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office detailed how “the reporting party said her son was threatening to cause harm to her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition.” He was ultimately booked into the El Paso County Jail on three counts of first-degree kidnapping and two counts of felony menacing at the time.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that “no formal charges were pursued in the case, which has since been sealed.” Aldrich had called the publication over the summer and asked it to either retract or update a story about his arrest because “there is absolutely nothing there” and “the case was dismissed.”

The New York Times reported an unexpected update about the case Tuesday night, revealing that the suspect identifies as nonbinary and goes by they/them pronouns and prefers to be called by the name Mx. Aldrich. It's not yet known if he was a patron of the club or had friends who worked or performed there. His first court appearance will be via video link from jail on Wednesday. 

Club Q had planned to host a drag show for children on Sunday, the day after the shooting. 

According to The Washington Post, Aldrich changed his name when he was 15 years old and a resident of San Antonio, Texas, after he endured an onslaught of online bullying. His parents had divorced when he was a toddler, and when he was 12, his mother, Laura Voepel, was suspected of arson and arrested. She was later charged with a lesser offense.

Aldrich was also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but was not an active member at any Colorado Springs location, The Washington Post added. 

Pastor Williams called on churches to “suspend the dialogue in their head and refuse to pass premature judgment on the matter so that the grace and compassion of Christ can manifest themselves in and through your community.”

He noted that at Vanguard Church, “We invited our congregation to join in a corporate time of prayer. We asked the Lord to give comfort to the brokenhearted and all who were impacted by this sorrowful situation.”

Lamenting that “politics and the press has already gotten involved in the process,” Williams urged churches to “seize the moment to rise above the political fray and focus on God’s glory instead.” He illustrated the need to “offer up prayers for those who are hurting” and “step in to bring healing where so much suffering has already taken place.”

Following Saturday night’s shooting, many in the corporate media have attempted to answer the question of “why this occurred.” NBC News reporter Brandy Zadrozny suggested Monday that the attack is the result of “hate” against the LGBT community, which she contended “starts from some smaller accounts online like LibsofTikTok, it moves to the right-wing blogosphere and then it ends up on Tucker Carlson or it ends up out of a right-wing politician’s mouth.” 

The Twitter account LibsofTikTok has recently shared audio recordings of her speaking with children’s hospitals while posing as the mother of a trans-identified teenager inquiring as to whether they perform body mutilating "gender transition surgeries" on children and teenagers. While trans activists refer to such procedures as “gender-affirming care,” critics, including the American College of Pediatricians, have raised serious concerns about the irreversible and long-term effects of surgeries that maim people for life. 

Several conservative commentators have pointed out that some in the media and progressives are quick to politicize mass shootings when it suits their agenda. 

Ben Shapiro, a commentator on The Daily Wire, said on his podcast Monday: “The Left has no problem blaming tragedies like the one in Colorado Springs on their political opponents. According to them, anyone who doesn’t support their radical social agenda is complicit. And yet they wonder why society is more polarized than ever.”

“And this is a game that only gets played by one side of the political aisle again and again and again,” he added. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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