Culture At Large

Forgiveness in the wake of Amish school murders

Andy Rau

News of the recent murders at an Amish school in Pennsylvania have been overshadowed by the Foley scandal (speaking of which--if I could somehow go back in time and not read those IM transcripts, I would), but a number of Christian bloggers are weighing in with thoughts. Several stories have noted that the usual flurry of "How could God let this happen?" questions haven't been as prominent as they typically are--presumably something to do with the deeply religious nature of the community. This has been noticed in more than a few news stories about the tragedy:

In just about any other community, a deadly school shooting would have brought demands from civic leaders for tighter gun laws and better security, and the victims' loved ones would have lashed out at the gunman's family or threatened to sue.

But that's not the Amish way.

In the aftermath of Monday's violence, the Amish have reached out to the family of the gunman, Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, who committed suicide during the attack in a one-room schoolhouse.

Dwight Lefever, a Roberts family spokesman, said an Amish neighbor comforted the Roberts family hours after the shooting and extended forgiveness to them. Among Roberts' survivors are his wife and three children.

Wow. How.... Christlike.

That said, plenty of people are (not unreasonably) discussing the broader social and political implications of the crime. Christianity Today has some links, and in the same blog post they take a new approach to the common Christian assumption that the secularization of schools is to blame for this sort of tragedy. Lots of people are pointing out the influence of cultural moral relativism in the crime, however--Ilona presents that argument well over at Truegrit Talks.

The talk about moral relativism, gun control, and other such issues is interesting, but for me the biggest story here is how the Amish community has responded to the tragedy. It's a terrible near-certainty that we'll see more school violence in the future, but what a model this community has set for responding to violence in a Christlike manner!

Topics: Culture At Large, News & Politics, Social Trends, Justice