August 23, 2017

Columbine: A Word For Evangelicals Ten Years Later

UPDATE: CNN has the same story as USA Today, but with more reference to the academic discussion and the psychology of myth perpetuation. Evangelicals who are angry at me for posting this should just skip it.

Here’s a detailed review of a book by Dave Cullen that is looking at the law enforcement information.

“These are not ordinary kids who were bullied into retaliation,” psychologist Peter Langman writes in his new book, Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters. “These are not ordinary kids who played too many video games. These are not ordinary kids who just wanted to be famous. These are simply not ordinary kids. These are kids with serious psychological problems.” -Peter Langman

The Columbine high school massacre has, unfortunately, been a professional interest for me. Part of my job involves doing risk assessments of high school students applying to our program, so understanding the dynamics of school violence is a necessary preparation.

As a Christian, I’ve had a different kind of interest in Columbine. The shootings have become part of conservative evangelical culture war mythology. Some of the dead are considered martyrs. Books have been written. Speaking tours traveled through churches and Christian media. The pundits and cultural critics have used Columbine as exhibit A for everything that was wrong with America. Here, we were told, was the results of America’s surrender to secularism and proof that we needed everything from the closure of public schools to the Ten Commandments in every classroom. (Think what a difference seeing “Thou Shalt Not Kill” would make.)

Because many of the Columbine victims were related to churches in the area, evangelicals took Columbine personally. Part of the mythology was that Christians were targeted. Churches struggled with how to respond. Here was the problem of evil on the big stage. What did the church have to say?

Ten years have passed, and USA Today does a retrospective on what we really know about Columbine. It’s essential reading for thoughtful evangelicals. (All of this information has been coming out through various books and sources, but this is a review of the total picture.)

Much of what we heard and much of what we as evangelicals told ourselves was simply not true.

Harris was a dangerously disturbed, brilliantly egomaniacal psych case. Klebold was a follower, depressed and suicidal.

Their families were normal. Where they were aware of problems, they tried to respond. They made mistakes, but the boys were exceptionally deceptive.

The only “targets” were kids who had already graduated.

The plan was to detonate a massive amount of bombs, collapsing the school and killing hundreds. None of the bombs worked.

No Christians were specially targeted for their faith. No one confessed belief in God and died as a result. The plan was to kill a whole school. The fantasy was terror on a large scale. Terror and legend were the motives.

The perceived snubs and mistreatment were minor. Harris and Klebold were, themselves, perpetrators of bullying and mistreatment of other students and were proud of it.

There is no video game connection, no occult connection, no atheism connection. Not even a particularly stereotypical pair of high school “troubled loners.”

It was a collision of two people whose particular issues and problems created the perfect chemistry for a mutual fantasy of violence.

There are issues for Christians in Columbine. Issues like acknowledging and admitting mental illness. Insisting on competent law enforcement. Secure schools. Professional assessment of at risk students. Gun control. Help for struggling families. Awareness of the dynamics and progression of violence.

Columbine is not about, and never was about, Christian persecution or any of the other culture war mythology we were told by leaders ready to use this tragedy to advance their own agendas and organizations.

Columbine is about living in the real world, not in the evangelical fantasy world. It is about being educated, aware and fully engaged in the real problems of our communities instead of distracted in our own versions of what’s wrong with the world. It is a call to do what we can, and to help families, teachers and public schools be the best they can be.

Columbine is about being compassionate, prayer and useful for Jesus, not being know-it-all opportunists. For us, it’s about doing a real assessment of how we as evangelicals accumulate and use information. Can we trust the headline-grabbing media, or even our own cultural critics, to tell us the truth? Can we be patient? (I’m the worst at this.) At a deeper level, do we want the real truth if it doesn’t fit into our pre-existing categories and answers?

Comments

  1. Bob Pinto: Because it’s an FBI report. Law enforcement. Criminology. It’s not the “liberal media.” It’s people who get paid to study this their entire life. Why do we think the law enforcement community has an agenda. The kid in Paducah was a completely different matter, but again, it’s mental illness. Not persecution. If you don’t think Christian prayer groups are popularity groups in most schools, you don’t know PSs. They are an easy target for kids with issues.

    And to the guy who couldn’t believe we do risk assessments for a private school: Uh…School discipline records. Counseling notes and assessments. Psych notes and assessments. Law enforcement records. It’s all on my desk when we take a student.

    ms

  2. I have thought for some time that the distinctively Christian interpretation about Columbine was flawed and probably not true. At the same time, many other groups in American captured the Columbine story and used it for their own purposes. Christians, while guilty, were hardly alone.

  3. USA Today is not a credible source. I am not refuting your article, but to use any mainstream paper as a valid source in this day and age is silly. Their agenda is anti-Christian & anti-conservative.

    imonk says, “no one confessed belief in God and died as a result.” That is unknown. The original questioning of the validity of Cassie Bernall’s death was done by Salon (far, far, left wing). The testimonies of a few students in the library are unsure of who said what. One student, Joshua Lapp, still stands by his testimony that Cassie did say that. Peter Langman does not know. USA Today does not know. They were not there. While Joshua could be mistaken I would believe him before I would believe Salon, Mr. Langman, or anyone from USA Today. Only God knows for sure.

    [MOD edit]

  4. It’s an FBI report. Not a USA Today report. But really, we’re all going to believe what we need to believe. I’m against Christians, like the rest of the world. If I were a real Christian, I’d never be critical of any Christian’s claim about anything.

    I hear this same song about EVERY evangelical manipulation and lie. Warnke. Drilling Into Hell. The woman who talked to the murderer about Purpose Driven Life (after doing drugs with him.) All the Financial scandals. All the lies about healing. All the paranoia about Obama being a Muslim.

    I have a low tolerance for conspiracy theorists and I don’t apologize for it. I consider most Culture war media to be propaganda.

    If that’s a problem, there are hundreds of web sites like Worldnet Daily where you can sleep on the soft pillow of evangelical delusions.

    ms

  5. AT Chaffee says:

    Just curious why the opposition to any suggestion that it might have been another girl who was asked about her faith and not Cassie. If it really was Valeen Schnurr who answered that she believed in God even after she had been shot, why is that a problem?

  6. There’s nothing wrong with it. It just can’t be substantiated by law enforcement reporting standards.

    Very interesting what people will accept when inclined. But if it were your kid on trial, what kind of evidential standard would we all insist on?

    peace

    ms

  7. Coming at this from the angle of a foreigner, I find it interesting that part of the thread is veering off on the tangent of “Demonic possession – yay or nay?” but there’s no sign of addressing the first thing that comes to my mind, which is how the hell did these kids get their hands on guns and ammo so easily?

    Yes, there are hunting rifles and shotguns around here, but still – I can’t offhand think of teenagers from our school being able to tool up like that – home-made bombs, for crying out loud! – and yet, in all the discussion of ‘video game violence’ and the like, no mention of “Oops – maybe they shouldn’t have had access to weapons”?

    Please correct all my complete misunderstanding of the situation with my gratitude.

  8. Bob Brague says:

    Well, after reading bob pinto’s comment I feel a little less lonely.

    iMonk, I know you’ve had a lot of bad experiences and a lot more aware of spurious pseudo-Christianity than most of your readers, but you sound a little jaded in your “It’s an FBI report” comment. Paranoid, even. As far as I know, and I live in the Atlanta area, the Brian Nichols/Ashley Smith story is true. Obviously you and I might be a little further down the Christian road than Ashley Smith was at the time.

    I don’t want to sound like a kook, but playing devil’s advocate, why should we believe the FBI again?

  9. Martha, gun control is an extremely hot-button issue over here. Suffice to say that regardless of restrictions, it has never been difficult for people desiring firepower to get around them.
    Which country do you hail from? Is gun control more successful over there?

  10. I think that the assumption I should believe Worldnet Daily and Christian talk radio- who have a clear agenda to reject everything that doesn’t come from their approved sources- rather than the FBI who have to produce evidence to stand the test of peer review and evidential processes in court is on the other fellow. Not on me.

    I’m not even remotely interested in living by the idea that Christian media should be trusted about anything. Proven liars.

    On the girl in Atlanta, she used drugs with the guy, but Christian media made her an immediate hero to sell books. We’re pathetic.

    peace

    ms

  11. Bob Pinto & Bob Brague,

    Why are Christians always so immediately believe such stories taken at face value. Especially in the instance of Columbine and Cassie. There are so many conflicting reports among the students that were in the library that day. Even Cassie’s mom when writing the book acknowledges that there were conflicting reports. These stories get reach legendary status within the christian community. Songs being written. Writing after writing, using Cassie as an example of how Christians should act when faced with persecution. And yet we stand back and get insulted when people label Christians as anti-intellectuals. In this case, we question the “liberal media” and dismiss other accounts from students that give a different version of Cassie rather than the version that people WANT to believe.

    Yes, God ONLY knows what really happened. But must we assume what happened and ignore facts and testimonies from people that were actually there?

  12. Chaffee It did not matter to me whether it was Valeen, Cassie, or some say Rachel Scott. I was not there. The kids who were there may have clouded memories. It was very traumatic. But that is what the kids said “immediately” after the events when the incident was fresh in their minds. And now USA Today “says” the FBI “says” no, without any FBI report referenced.

    ps.imonk Since you responded to the part of my post you edited. I assure you I do not fall into those categories you try to insinuate that I am in. I too am a subscriber to Touchstone. I teach Church History. I attend an SBC church. I have no clue what you are talking about when you say “Warnke, drilling into hell, healing lies”. Purpose driven? not me. I am old fashioned EE.
    My old pastor Don Sweeting (son of Dr. George Sweeting of Moody Bible Inst.) was on the scene the night of the shooting. He had just begun to pastor a Presbyterian church in CO that week. Trying to insinuate that I am some sort of kook because I read very closely what is written is merely ad homenim.

  13. I don’t say the FBI is flawless. I’m not naive. I’m saying they are a lot more reasonably qualified and motivated to produce a standard of evidence we can accept (even with reservations) than Worldnet Daily or some nutty blogger.

    Believing these alternative Christian media sources will drive you into tin foil hats. I’m not interested in going there.

    ms

  14. Lance Athanasius: I love it when a commenter does an imitation of Ken Silva then tells me how wrong I got it. Is that my problem? Who listed the standard reformed heroes mall? Who ended it with Macarthur?

    So if you’re actually Scot McKnight, wow. Good role-play.

    I didn’t call you a kook. You did call me deceived with your scripture quote. You did say I’m anti Christian. You did portray this blog in bizarrely biased terms.

    Just comment on the posts and leave me out of it. Your aside about your judgments on this blog is what has me typing this.

  15. Excellent point about access to weaponry. Down here in Arkansas we narrowly escaped a law allowing concealed pistols to be carried in church regardless of what the church said about it.

    I mean, if someone was rebaptized carrying a 9mm in their pants, it might ruin it. I suppose you could always lay your .45 on the rail when you knelt to take communion.

    The overlap between gun idolatry and right wing Christianity is very scary to me. It’s pretty much open season on liberals anymore.

  16. With Columbine being in my back yard I reflect often upon that day of horror…thanks for your post.

  17. ATChaffee says:

    Hmm, don’t think I was very clear.

    I think that experts putting together a trail of evidence from different sources could certainly give a different picture (and a more substantiated and yes, accurate one) than asking a shell-shocked child what happened right after a traumatic event. I also doubt USA Today would be stupid enough to lie about a report that is available on-line no matter how sinisterly liberal they might be.

    http://foia.fbi.gov/foiaindex/columbinehigh.htm

    What confuses me is why this FBI report is supposed to be so anti-Christian. Judging from the book review on Salon (since my computer can’t get into the FBI report), it sounds like a different girl than Cassie was asked about belief in God after she was already shot and still answered that she did believe. Different girl, same story, (except she didn’t die). And the killers did shoot some Christians even if they weren’t targeting them in particular. If this FBI report was concocted to undermine Christianity then I guess I’m too dim to see how it could.

  18. Thanks for the link iMonk. It’s interesting reading a somewhat objective view of the tragedy at Columbine for once. Those books by the Christian publishers have sold like hotcakes here in Australia and I’ve always been suspicious over claims that Christians were targeted. Thanks for the eye opener.
    Pax.

  19. treebeard says:

    This is off the subject of Columbine, but iMonk you gave this example: “The woman who talked to the murderer about Purpose Driven Life (after doing drugs with him.)”

    Could you say more about this in light of the quote from Luther you just posted? That is, if the devil says “don’t” then do it just to spite his legalisms and prove you aren’t condemned?

    What I’m getting at is to me that woman was a wonderful example of the very thing you often discuss on your blog. She’s a fallen sinner, a broken Christian, she’s not making it, she’s not “victorious.” So she does drugs with the murderer who has taken her hostage. (I’m not condoning it or whitewashing it.) Then she also introduces him to Rick Warren’s book, and helps the guy turn himself in. Frankly, that’s one of the most realistic examples of grace abounding to sinners (both the woman and the criminal) that I’ve heard of in recent years.

    Granted there may be details I don’t know about. But here’s a druggie who’s also reading a Christian book. That to me shows she’s struggling in her faith, and probably even losing. Yet she still manages to eke out something of a Christian testimony. I’m not sure why this example is a negative with you. She wasn’t a fraud like Warnke, she was the real thing, a sinner and a loser trapped in a bad situation who was able to take whatever she had of Christ and turn that situation (her being a hostage) around. I remember the photos of the guy who had killed the judge – his face was visibly different when he turned himself in, like he had been visited by an angel or something.

    Anyway, that story affected me at the time far more than “marty’s testimonies” including those of Columbine. Here was a woman I could relate to, and I was even reading Rick Warren when this happened. Fine, Warren has his problems and limitations, but he impacted one screwed-up woman’s life, and through her reached a murderer. And I definitely believe that the Lord allowed that as a testimony concerning Him to many people just like that druggie woman.

  20. Treebeard:

    I’m not discussing the woman as an example of grace or of Christian discipleship. I was discussing the assertion that we ought to believe Christian media rather than the FBI. Her story was presented as one thing for the purpose of money to be made, and then the less generally digestable truth came out.

    If I were her pastor, I’d be proud of her. She was not in any way a subject I was discussing.

    peace

    ms

  21. Bob Brague says:

    I never said we ought to believe the Christian media rather than the FBI. My point, which I probably failed to make, was that we should treat ALL — Christian, FBI, whatever — secondhand reports with skepticism initially, not unqualified acceptance. That way lies Todd Bentley.

    First-person testimonies are one thing. Reports by others of what occurred invariably get some things wrong. Ask anyone who was ever the subject of a newspaper article.

    And even some first-person accounts are skewed, sometimes purposely, sometimes unconsciously.

    You can’t win.

  22. Before I bring up this point I want to clarify that I am a devote Christian who believes in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
    Reading the above commentary about the legends, lies and exaggeration regarding the Columbine tragedy I wonder if the skeptics and
    opponents of christianity look at this and think or say you “guys” (chistian media and majority of believers) so easily propagate and believe this
    stuff your claims about the resurrection of Christ seem to be on the same kind of shaky ground, after there is no FBI report to verify the claims.
    How do we respond? (The reason I ask is I have family members who would definitly say the same thing)

  23. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    I’m not discussing the woman as an example of grace or of Christian discipleship. I was discussing the assertion that we ought to believe Christian media rather than the FBI. Her story was presented as one thing for the purpose of money to be made, and then the less generally digestable truth came out.

    Another example of “Print the Legend”, with her cast as Pious Polly Purebred. When the reality was a bit more “colorful”.

    Just like CSI: Miami as compared to the RL Miami Homicide detectives of First 48.

    And we’re not the only ones to do it. (Nobody say a word about the Holy House of Loretto when you’ve “printed the legend” over and over, too.) Cassie Bernell isn’t around to dispute the legend of herself as “The Columbine Martyr”. Just like Matt Shepherd isn’t around to dispute the legend of himself as “Martyr for Gay Rights”. Very conveninent when the subject is dead and can’t tell the real story or object to the spin treatment given them.

    And as for the Christian Media (TM) being cited, World Net Daily? With Hal “Here-Comes-the-Antichrist” Lindsay and Pat “Blame-the-Jews” Buchanan on staff and Young Earth Creationism Uber Alles in every issue? I pegged them as a Stealth Christian rag the first time I read their site.

    And as for the accusations of “You REALLY believe what the Secular Humanist FBI ‘Reported’, Sheeple?” that I’m reading between the lines, remember that It is Literally Impossible to Disprove a Conspiracy Theory. (i.e. the Utter Certainty of “The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs! We won’t be taken in!”) Any evidence against The Conspiracy is Disinformation Planted by The Conspiracy, and lack of evidence for The Conspiracy is PROOF The Conspiracy is So Vast THEY Can Silence Anybody (Conspiracy Theorist excepted). And Christians seem to be especially prone to Grand Unified Conspiracy Theories.

    And just this morning I came across this LJ referencing another response to the anniversary of the Columbine Massacre, this one from Answers in Genesis. Apparently the cause of Columbine was — guess what? Tthe Teaching of EVOLUTION.

    Guess when all you have is a hammer, EVERYTHING looks like a nail.

  24. treebeard says:

    iMonk, thanks for the clarification. Sorry for making a mountain out of a molehill.

  25. I work with middle to high school age kids in a school setting. Have for a decade, so I hesistate to do anything but mourn when I think of Columbine. I will add my three cents.

    1. There are a lot of troubled youth. A lot. It is only by God’s grace this doesn’t happen more. You can’t live under your bed, but you can’t be ignorant that the world can be a dangerous place.

    2. Conspiracay theorist can be crazy, but they can also be right sometimes. I’ve met a few very impressive Birchers.

    3. Gun control does not work. More laws would not have stopped young boys as intellegient and deceptive as these. In fact we need more guns and less control of them. We need more good people with guns. Criminals don’t mind breaking laws, that’s why they are criminals. I went hiking with my son this week. We have a new law letting us carry in state parks. I strapped on my 38 and went hiking. A young lady was killed in another state park last year. Would a gun have helped? It wouldn’t have hurt?

    You can mod this if you want but the only thing worse that Christians tyring to make culture war hay out of this tragedy is for folks to use for anti-gun propaganda.

    Thanks,
    Austin

  26. Here’s a curious thing… I was a high school junior when the Columbine shootings happened. I grew up in the church and believed myself to be a Christian, but I wasn’t acting like one.

    The Columbine shootings clarified things for me, as I asked myself how would I respond in a recant-or-die situation. Would I deny Christ to save my own skin? Or would I remain faithful to Him, even unto death?

    Even though I have learned since that Christians were not specifically targeted for their faith, I truly believe that false rumor was used – by the grace of God – to pull me off the fence from nominal profession of belief into the conviction of true faith.

  27. i had never heard that there was any doubt cast upon the cassie bernall story until reading your post. thanks for sharing all the thoughts on the evangelical myths.

    i remember after the shootings, a man came to our church to speak to the youth group and parents of youth. i was in 9th grade at the time of the shootings. he was the father of one of the girls who was killed, rachel joy scott. she was a christian as well. her father came to speak to us about the shootings and tell rachel’s story. it was interesting story to hear about how for quite a while rachel had written in her journal that she knew she was going to die and not live past 16, but God had given her peace in it.

    toward the end of the talk, the father talked about the state of the schools. he mentioned how God, the Bible and prayer were slowly being taken out of them, and christians were not stopping it. he made the claim that you can’t find the clause about the “separation of church and state” anywhere in the constitution and bill of rights. it was a lie that christians believed, and that we should look it up for ourselves and fight to change our schools.

    looking back on the talk that night, if who i am today was there, i would just want to walk toward the guy after the talk and give him a long embrace, tell him i’m so sorry for his loss, but also tell him that nothing he does will bring her back. she’s gone.

    i don’t want to cast motive on a grieving father 10 years after the fact, but i would venture to say that the passion he had speaking about the situation of our schools was part of his healing process in venting his deep anger and seeking justice and meaning. it’s a hypothetical situation to say that if we had more God/Bible/Prayer in school this wouldn’t have happened and he would still have his baby girl. but to a grieving father it might make perfect sense, and give him someone to blame and something to fight against.

  28. Thanks for the post,

    Whose fault was the killings at Columbine High School? And how can we help our children resist bullies, not become bullies themselves and thrive after horrible killings?

    Seven of the most common targets of blame are:
    1. The bullies who pushed Harris and Klebolt over the edge.
    2. The parents of the bullies who didn’t stop their children.
    3. The school principal who didn’t stop the bullying of Harris and Klebolt, or stop the earlier violence of the killers.
    4. The parents of the killers who didn’t raise their kids better and didn’t had them incarcerated or committed.
    5. Harris and Klebolt were simply psychopathic, psychotic killers.
    6. A society that is violent and corrupt.
    7. A society that has lost its connection with God.

    Looking to blame and then fix one part of human life is the wrong way to go. Our efforts to change our school and legal system are necessary, useful and laudable, but they’re not a solution that will prevent future massacres.

    Face reality. Bullies, psychopaths and killers are like the weather – they’ve always been with us and always will be. Assigning blame won’t change that.

    The useful question for us is how we prepare our children and teenagers for a world in which they’ll face crazy, violent people.

    We must teach our children not to use bullying tactics, and to be resilient in the face of bullying and to learn how to stop bullies in their tracks. Obviously, Harris and Klebolt never learned this. The hardest task for parents is to recognize when our children have gone bad and to do something about it.

    Answering these difficult questions will help us teach our children better than hand wringing or assigning blame.

    Disclosure: In addition to having six children and living in Denver, I’m a practical, pragmatic coach and consultant. I’ve written books of case studies, “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids” and “How to Stop Bullies in their Tracks.” Check out my website and blog at BulliesBeGone (http://BulliesBeGone.com).

  29. In the space of five days, we honor Jackie Robinson’s finally breaking into the major leagues and we also memorialize Eric Harris and Dylan Klebolt’s massacre at Columbine High School ten years ago. They each faced a failed system – but in opposite directions – and they illustrate character and courage – but at opposite ends of the spectrum.

    The stories about what was done and said to Jackie Robinson fill volumes. I was born in Brooklyn and was old enough to go to Ebbets Field to see Robinson play in his second year. The insults, curses and threats from the players and fans were still going on then.

    The rotten system that kept Robinson out of baseball and harassed him for years was full of anger, hatred and the very real possibility of killing him and his family.

    Eric Harris and Dylan Klebolt faced a rotten system on the other extreme. They were allowed to be violent, destructive and threaten classmates, but instead of being removed from contact with other students who were their victims, the two were coddled.

    A generation in charge of the school and the police falsely believed that if you kept extremely troubled kids in contact with the rest of us and gave them lots of counseling, the troubled kids would stop being crazy bullies. Harris and Klebolt showed a generation what the price was for living that false educational philosophy; each one of those psychopaths could kill about ten innocent people.

    We still haven’t righted the system. Thousands of innocent kids are bullied and harassed at school each day while society, the legal system and school principals don’t stop the bullying juvenile delinquents, psychopaths and psychotics.

    Jackie Robinson had the character and courage to endure and surmount far worse than the bullying that is claimed to have pushed Harris and Klebolt over the edge. Robinson didn’t give up or explode.

    Neither Harris nor Klebolt had character or courage. Bullying didn’t push them over the edge. They ran willingly and repeatedly right to the edge and then jumped off. None of the adults stopped them or removed them.

    When will we start protecting the rest of us from the bullies and crazies?

    Disclosure: In addition to having six children, growing up in Brooklyn and living in Denver, I’m a practical, pragmatic coach and consultant. I’ve written books of case studies, “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids” and “How to Stop Bullies in their Tracks.” Check out my website and blog at BulliesBeGone (http://BulliesBeGone.com).

  30. PlaidShirt says:

    So many words written here and I have yet to see all of these words:

    Isaiah Shoels
    Matt Kechter
    Steve Curnow
    Corey DePooter
    Kelly Fleming
    Daniel Mauser
    Daniel Rohrbough
    John Tomlin
    Kyle Velasquez
    Lauren Townsend
    William “Dave” Sanders
    Rachel Scott
    Cassie Rene Bernall
    Eric Harris
    Dylan Klebold

  31. PlaidShirt says:

    I fail to see the difference in the paranoia of “All liberal MSM stories are full of lies.” and this “I hear this same song about EVERY evangelical manipulation and lie. Warnke. Drilling Into Hell. The woman who talked to the murderer about Purpose Driven Life (after doing drugs with him.) All the Financial scandals. All the lies about healing. All the paranoia about Obama being a Muslim. I have a low tolerance for conspiracy theorists and I don’t apologize for it. I consider most Culture war media to be propaganda….ms”

    Two sides of the same tinfoil hat.

    It was CBS News (that well known evangelical media outlet) that reported that “one of the gunmen, after having first shot Rachel in her leg, asked the wounded girl if she still believed in God, and that she had simply answered “You know I do”, provoking a second, fatal shot to her head at point-blank range.” “The FBI later concluded that this interaction did not take place. Despite the controversy surrounding this issue, Rachel’s parents contend in their book, Rachel’s Tears: the Spiritual Journey of Columbine Martyr Rachel Scott, that their daughter was targeted by the killers and died as a martyr for her Christian faith, based on videotapes made by the teenage perpetrators in which they are said to mock Rachel for her beliefs.”

    So who is right? CBS? Rachel’s parents? Or the FBI? Wikipedia? Valeen Schnurr? Emily Wyant? Craig Scott? Rocky Mountain News? Misty Benall? Internetmonk?

    They all are. They are using different pieces of information and using a different set of criteria for determing truth.

    One can hardly blame the evangelical community for taking at face value the words of the parents of Rachel Scott and Cassie Bernall and their beliefs to the present day. The fact that many evangelicals haven’t read the evidence to the contrary is not a conspirancy and cynical attempt at perpetuating a myth. It’s just a fact that most people moved on with their lives. They remember the “facts” as they existed in the months after April 20, 1999. “Facts” which were reported by mainstream media and published in books written by the parents.

    To insinuate that Darrell Scott equals Mike Warnke is damnably cynical.

  32. For more on Columbine and school safety, check out http://detentionslip.org . It’s the #1 source for crazy headlines in education.

  33. iMonk –

    did you read the FBI report or simply the USA Today article – which actually relies very little on the FBI report.

    If you simply read the article (and not the full report) you are doing what you accuse others of doing – using biased sources of information that happen to support your worldview.

  34. Did you read the first paragraph?

    All sources are biased. Including the FBI report, this blog and your comment. And all have an agenda.

    “Were you truly objective?” This is like “Are you really saved?”