The home church of a 21-year-old charged with the murder of eight people, most of whom were of Asian descent, has condemned his actions and has withdrawn his membership from the church as he “can no longer affirm that he is truly a regenerate believer in Jesus Christ”.
Robert Aaron Long attacked three massage parlours in the US state of Georgia on 16th March arguing he wanted to protect himself from sexual temptation.
In a statement, Crabapple First Baptist church said they were “absolutely distraught” when they realised Aaron was responsible for the crime and acknowledged the Long family had been a member of the church for many years.
“We were absolutely devastated at this senseless loss of life and callous disregard for human beings created in the image of God. We grieve for the victims and their families.”
“We watched Aaron grow up and accepted him into church membership when he made his own profession of faith in Jesus Christ. These unthinkable and egregious murders directly contradict his own confession of faith in Jesus and the gospel.”
“No blame can be placed upon the victims. He alone is responsible for his evil actions and desires. The women that he solicited for sexual acts are not responsible for his perverse sexual desires nor do they bear any blame in these murders,” the statement continues.
The church has described Long’s actions as “antithetical to everything that we believe and teach as a church” and has stressed that “the shootings were a total repudiation of our faith and practice, and such actions are completely unacceptable and contrary to the gospel”.
Long told officers he did not commit the crime for racial motivations but that “he had an issue with porn and he was attempting to take out that temptation”. The killings have prompted a wave of protests condemning Asian hate.
In their statement, Crabapple First Baptist church highlighted that they do not condone violence towards certain “ethnicities or against women” and added that they believe “all human beings are created in the image of God. Every person is worthy of respect. All people are equal in dignity, value, and worth.”
The church had deleted its social media and closed its website to protect its congregation, but has since restored its online presence. Crabapple is cooperating with law enforcement agencies and praying for “both earthly justice and divine justice”.
“Our hearts are broken at this devastating loss of life. We will continue to grieve, mourn, and pray for the families and loved ones of the victims. Finally, we deeply regret the fear and pain Asian-Americans are experiencing as a result of Aaron’s inexcusable actions,” the statement concludes.