Texas Church Murder/Counter-Murder as Rorschach Test

“2 victims in the Texas shooting were members of the church security team. So much for church security.”

As I have been developing a research project on congregational security, a number of people sent me comments about or links to the story of the murder/counter-murder event (H/T Tactical Professor) at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas at the end of December 2019.

This quote above is from a text message that was among the first personal responses I received. Don’t shit-talk the author. It was from my mom. What is significant here is how profoundly people’s pre-existing views influence their interpretation of events, especially where guns are concerned. Like a Rorschach Test, we learn more about the person interpreting the event (the inkblot equivalent) than we do about the event itself.

Photo of Inkblot by Hermann Rorschach (died 1922) [Public domain]
I suppose it is just my naive optimism that makes me think a potential mass public killing that was stopped by an armed citizen caught on live video could actually lead to some productive dialogue. But other immediate responses, like one by the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, dissipated my hope.

I think reasonable people of goodwill can disagree about the propriety of allowing guns in houses of worship — many houses of worship have been discussing this very question — but to suggest that a law allowing the carrying of guns in churches facilitated this church shooting seems profoundly wrong to me.

I was also struck by a Washington Post editorial on the Freeway Church of Christ shooting that concluded with a hyperbolic and false dichotomy: “Instead of turning churches and schools into armed camps, we should do a better job of keeping guns away from people who shouldn’t have them.”

First of all, nothing I have seen or heard about Freeway Church of Christ suggests its members felt their congregation was an “armed camp.” Second, why can’t there be armed church security AND doing a better job of keeping guns away from people who shouldn’t have them?

Like Rorschach’s inkblots, alas, people see what they want to see.

7 comments

  1. As a recovering academic, I can attest to the truth of your statements, David. It is becoming more and more difficult to hold a rational discussion, because the bedrock assumptions of the members of our American civic community are so divergent.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think one thing we see is how movies give us an image of how a trained good guy wouldn’t have had this happen to him. If a person was really a security, they wouldn’t have been shot. Of course, reality gives us a different image, that you can be the greatest trained SEAL and yet still get shot.

    Like

  3. As an academician and clinical psychologist in a doctoral training program I certainly see this projection of existing attitudes on such situations. I also see the emerging futility in attempting to engage clinical scientists in a data-based rational discussion.

    Like

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