Sara Whitman

Tennessee Shooting

Filed By Sara Whitman | July 30, 2008 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living, Politics
Tags: shooting, TN, Unitarian Universalist

I'm still stunned by the news that an armed gunman went into a Unitarian Church in Tennessee that was in the middle of a performance by kids of the play "Annie" and killed two people, with the intention of killing many more.

A play, on a Sunday. Kids. adults. In a church.

He hated liberal views, he hated gay people. The church had just received a grant to create a LGBT and questioning youth cafe, space to be safe to be themselves.

I am a Unitarian Universalist. Yes, everyone, I am an atheist. It's the beauty of the church- you are challenged to think, consider and if you do not believe in God, there is room for you to believe in social justice, in community, in peace.

Four people are in critical condition. Greg McKendry, an usher, wrestled the man to the ground. He died, saving countless others as the killer packed 78 rounds of ammunition in his bag.

So as we examine whether or not Lawrence King was a bully that deserved shooting, as we examine whether or not gay history is something that is "too sexual" to teach in schools, I ask this:

When will we examine the right wing groups that create such hatred in our society? When will we put them on the stand and cross examine their lives, their homes, their parents? When will their hatred be abnormal?

A church.

On Sunday.

200 people watching kids perform "Annie."

If this doesn't call to mind the 16th Street Baptist Street Bombing, I would ask you why. That no children died is only a testament to Mr. McKendry.

This is about civil rights.

And this just got really personal.

Crossposted from Suburban Lesbian Housewife


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I know it sounds corny, Sara, but truly - the sun will come out tomorrow. I heard there was a service tonight and the kids who were performing Annie! started singing the song. Adults joined in too.

I'll sing if you'll sing with me.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 31, 2008 2:42 AM

It is the damn guns. Stupid kids, deranged people, Angry (see failure) white men.

Gerri Ladene | July 31, 2008 9:11 AM

The first description I received of the shooter Adkisson described him this way.

Adkisson, whom Owen says has an AA degree in mechanical engineering, was apparently out of work, and about to see his food stamp benefits decrease. Adkisson has a work history that has ranged all over the United States, and is apparently a veteran of the 101st Airborne Division.

In all the following stories I’ve read Adkisson is described this way.

From CNN: Jim D. Adkisson, 58, an out-of-work truck driver, "It appears that what brought him to this horrible event was his lack of being able to obtain a job, his frustration over that, and his stated hatred for the liberal movement," Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen said of Adkisson.

The most detailed description of Adkisson so far had been posted here:

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/jul/28/church-shooting-police-find-manifesto-suspects-car/

A line from a comment made on this site made me speculate about the reason Adkisson would do such a heinous act against innocent strangers! http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=61339&catid=2 as I already stated: Hopefully some day we will be able to uproot this hatred and live in peace and the sooner the better. It’s only a mater of making those who keep the fire of hatred burning to realize the unnecessary great harm they do to the innocent.

Other online accounts of Adkisson:
That Friday, David West said Adkisson bought a used guitar case for $35, even though workers warned him his Martin guitar wouldn't fit inside.
West said Adkisson told him he'd "make it fit."
West now believes Adkisson used the case to smuggle his gun into TVUU Sunday morning to carry out the deadly shooting.
A neighbor told 10News Adkisson described himself as a "Confederate" and a "believer in the old South." She says Adkisson self-identified in this way to her on more than one occasion, but that she didn't know what he meant by it.

Neighbor Karen Massey said Adkisson seemed like a nice guy who was always willing to help. She said she once had a conversation with Adkisson about religion and that he told her everything in the Bible was a contradiction, but Massey thought Adkisson had a strong Christian upbringing.

KNOXVILLE, TENN. (AP) - One of the injured victims of Sunday's church shooting rampage in Tennessee says the tragedy has ended his support for the death penalty.
Retired philosophy professor Joe Barnhart spoke Wednesday from a Knoxville hospital, where he's being treated for more than 20 shotgun pellets in his back, neck and head.
A longtime friend of his was one of two people killed and three of his family members were among the six wounded.
The 76-year-old says he used to support capital punishment, but now it doesn't seem the answer for what he calls "this kind of evil."
Barnhart says if suspect Jim D. Adkisson is convicted, he should "never see the light of day in an orderly society" again.

I may find it hard to agree with Mr. Barnhart but then again I do not believe in taking life for any reason. We will never know what makes a person like Adkisson snap and go homicidal but there are plenty of differences in our society that a person like Adkisson could use as an excuse for his action.

This is terrorism, pure and simple. Let's see if it'll be included in Bush admin terrorism talking points in the future though, about how radical Christianist terrorists need to be fought around the world.

A very sad event that shouldn't of happened and probably wouldn't of if old intolerance and hate weren't allowed.I have thought of trying the Univeralist Uniterian church but I'm not sure if I'm ready yet.Amy