It’s Not a Mental Health Issue it’s an ‘Evil’ Issue

Proverbs Chapter 6 12 A worthless person, a wicked man, Is the one who walks with a perverse mouth, 13 Who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet, Who points with his fingers; 14 Who {with} perversity in his heart continually devises evil, Who spreads strife. 15 Therefore his calamity will come suddenly; Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing. 16 There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: 17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, 19 A false witness {who} utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.

On Sunday 5 November Devin Patrick Kelley entered the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs Texas with his Ruger model 556 AR-15 rifle and opened fire on the congregation, killing at least 26 and injuring 20 more. Authorities stated it was a possible a domestic situation between him and his ex mother in law. Yet still that explanation didn’t quite explain his actions. Later it was stated Devon Kelley had suffered from mental health issues citing a history of abuse towards his wife and child. Further proof, it was discovered, He had escaped from a mental institution where he was detained in 2013.

Church in TX

We see it in every shooting, political posturing. It never fails. From the left it’s argued , the solution, is to ban guns. On the right it’s always stated it’s a mental health issue, and we should only ban guns from mentally ill people.

Even President Trump stated this, when he first learned of the shooting, Stating: “This isn’t a guns situation; this is a mental health problem at the highest level. It’s a very, very sad event.”This echoed a well known opinion of conservative commentator Ann Coulter. Wishing to express her opinion, a reporter at a press conference asked him if he’d consider “extreme vetting” on people purchasing firearms. He stuck to his answer.

“If you did what you’re suggesting, there would have been no difference three days ago,” Trump said. “And you might not have had that very brave person who happened to have a gun or a rifle in his truck go out and shoot him and hit him and neutralize him and I can only say this, if he didn’t have a gun, instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead, so that’s the way I feel about it.”

trump

The president was referencing Stephen Willeford, a Sutherland Springs resident and neighbor to the church. Stephen Willeford grabbed his own rifle, shot at Devon Kelley, then flagged down a passing truck and chased the shooter where who shortly thereafter, died from a self inflicted gunshot wound. It had been expressed by many that Devon Kelley, whom had other firearms in his vehicle may have had plans for other shootings.

But was Devon Kelly crazy? Most people would say yes. The logic is only a crazy person could do the things he did. To analyze this let’s put what we know about Devon Kelley into as near to chronological order as we can.

Here is what we know about him:

He grew up in New Braunfels, Texas, about 35 miles north of Sutherland Springs.

He served in logistics readiness at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 to 2014.

While in the service he was sent to Peak Behavioral Health Services Center in Santa Teresa, New Mexico for multiple incidents, between June of 2011 and April 2012, of abuse against his spouse and child, whom received a cracked skull.

He escaped from the mental health facility in 2012, in an attempt to carry out death threats to his military superiors.

He was court-martialed in 2012 for domestic abuse to his spouse Ann Stefanek and child, reduced in rank to E1, and was confined for 12 months.

He received a bad conduct discharge from the U.S. Air Force.

Air Force admitted had failed to enter his domestic violence court-martial into a federal database that would have prevented him from buying firearms.

Married his second wife in April of 2014, and had multiple complaints of sexual abuse against him.

He attended First Baptist Church of Kingsville Texas for approximately two months, in May and June, 2014, and participated in one day of Vacation Bible School. He did not teach Sunday school as was falsely reported.

On Aug. 1, 2014 in El Paso County, Texas he was charged for cruelty to animals. In an incident where witnesses say he was jumping on a dog and punching it multiple times.

He had been investigated for rape.

He was an atheist who ranted about “stupid” religious people.

His classmates described him as “creepy” and “weird.”

“He was always talking about how people who believe in God were stupid and trying to preach his atheism,” Someone had posted on Facebook.

He was a member of several atheism groups on Facebook.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to a domestic violence call in 2014 at his home involving a girlfriend who later became his second wife.

He sent threatening text messages to his mother-in-law of his second wife Danielle, a member of Sutherland Springs First Baptist church.

Devin Kelley attended Sutherland Church ‘Fall Festival’ event five days before the shooting.

“The pastor told me he was here at the festival Halloween night, saw him in the crowd,” Sheriff Tackitt told reporters.

Investigators collected at least 15 empty 30 round magazines, suggesting he fired at least 450 rounds.

He had “multiple weapons” in his car.

devon

So was Devon Kelley “crazy”? Despite many reports of hem being confined to a mental institution I could not find any professional diagnosis. The closest to a diagnosis I found was a statement made by the behavioral health officials who stated: “was a danger to himself and others as he had already been caught sneaking firearms onto Holloman Air Force Base,” Maybe he was, however his history suggests he was just a violent person. Being violent doesn’t necessarily mean ‘crazy’. Sometimes a ‘bad guy’ is just a ‘bad guy’.

While Devon Kelley’s mental health is still in question it is important to point out that despite what commentators will say, mental health is not a leading factor to violent crime. In the U.S. only 3 to 5% were committed by people with a mental illness. In fact the percentage of people suffering from mental health, who committed crimes, was lower than the national average compared to those without. Many studies have concluded this, including studies from The  American Psychological AssociationAmerican Psychological Association American Psychological Association, Harvard and Berkley. Furthermore, studies show that people who are suffering from mental illness are more likely to be the victim of violent crime rather than a perpetrator of it.

Think about it, if a mental health illness caused a person to commit violent crime, or murder than Brittney Spears and Charlie Sheen would have committed crimes, but they didn’t despite having displayed, very publically, their battles with their mental health.

The truth is this kind of talk stigmatizes people who suffer from mental health issues, and it is a group of people who have very few advocates on their behalf. They do not deserve this stigma, nor do they deserve to lose rights especially based upon the political ramblings of people who know virtually nothing about mental illness. They only know how to illicit fear to push a political agenda.

In Romans we read about certain behaviors atheism can lead to:

And just as they did not see fit to recognize God, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do the things that are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greediness, malice, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malevolence. They are gossipers, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boasters, contrivers of evil, disobedient to parents, senseless, faithless, unfeeling, unmerciful; Romans 1:28–31

As Christians we know better. We know that evil exists in the world. True most people who don’t know the Lord aren’t evil by today’s societal standard. We also know there are some who are plain evil, by anybodies standard. How does one explain Isis terrorists who behead Christians and destroy churches almost on a weekly basis? How do we explain perhaps the most notorious mass murderer in history Stephen Paddock, who murdered well over 50 concert goers a little over a month before this? Stephen Paddock had no diagnosis of a mental health condition.

Philip Melancthon once said  “The wisest men in all times have bewailed the great amount of human misery which we see with our eyes before we pass into eternity—diseases, death, want, our own errors, by which we bring harm and punishment on ourselves, hostile men, unfaithfulness on the part of those with whom we are closely connected, banishment, abuse, desertion, miserable children, public and domestic strife, wars, murder, and devastation. And since such things appear to befall good and bad without distinction, many wise men have inquired whether there were any providence, or whether accident brings everything to pass independent of a divine purpose. But we in the Church know that the first and principal cause of human woe is this: that on account of sin man is made subject to death and other calamity, which is so much more vehement in the Church, because the devil, from the hatred toward God, makes fearful assaults on the Church and strives to destroy it utterly.”

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In the past few years there have been a number of Church shootings. Indicators are this is a rising trend. Apart from mass shootings there have been many more incidents of Church vandalism as well. I think every Christian, who reads this, can attest to the fact that the nature of personal spiritual attacks has increased the past couple of years and have gotten more bizarre. Just this last year, my wife and I had two encounters with demon possessed men who sought to do us harm, and can obtain the police report on one of them to prove it. We had never experienced anything close to that before.

The enemy seeks to stop the Gospel anywhere and anyway he can. But something has changed. It’s becoming much more dangerous for the follower of Christ.

In my next blog post I will ask the question, should your Church implement an ‘active shooter’ plan. I will ask the question, should a Christian own a weapon, and arm them self. I will also explore some practical advice for anyone who might find themselves in an active shooter situation.

In case anyone is wondering this blog post is NOT an anti-gun argument. It’s for people who need someone to speak out on their behalf, and don’t deserve the negative comments they always get in a situation like this. It’s for those who courageously live with a mental illness, and suffer in silence.

With tears, my heart and my prayers are with the congregation of the First Baptist Church and community of Sutherland Springs Texas.

May the Lord give you comfort.

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