2007-12-12

Matthew J. Murray and YWAM

Matthew J. Murray, the shooter in the recent spree killings in Colorado, had some interesting history.

His parents were deeply religious; they homeschooled him; and he attempted to join a 12 week YWAM course.

I've seen YWAM at work. I was once moved to tears by a gospel presentation they did in a local high school many years ago. I was also led into spiritual confusion in my early Christian days by a YWAMer who got us to do some form of "Prayer visualisation" which was pretty much a Christianised version of guided meditation.

Sadly, YWAM has a reputation as a hotbed of bad theology and emotional abuse. Click here to read more about them. I wouldn't be surprised if Murray's actions had some basis in his experience with YWAM.

I'm not blaming YWAM for this of course - personal responsibility and all that - but when you abuse people for as long as YWAM does, it's only a matter of time before something or someone cracks.

And as for home-schooling, this is this second time I have read of a home-schooled "evangelical" taking up arms and committing murder, David Ludwig being the first.

Homeschooling only works if the parents are godly and knowledgeable. Both Ludwig and Murray didn't suddenly turn into killers, their actions were likely the result of emotional abuse that they had been put through. Homeschooling parents - especially evangelicals - should have some level of accountability.

Personal responsibility? Certainly. But also community responsibility as well.

12 comments:

BLBeamer said...

I know nothing of YWAM other than second hand information. I haven't read the link.

I do know that the most gifted preacher at my previous church was a former YWAM staffer. His theology seemed sound. I realize that may be no reflection on YWAM.

On CNN two nights ago, Murray's YWAM roommate described his experiences with Murray. Based on the roommate's description, Murray was disturbed, likely schizophrenic. YWAM claims Murray was dismissed for "health reasons".

In the US, people home school for all different kinds of reasons. Roughly 10% home school, if I remember my statistics. Nothing close to 10% of the spree killings are committed by home schoolers. But home schoolers are disproportionately represented among high achieving students, including the latest national Spelling Bee champion.

We will likely find out more, but the picture of Murray that is slowly emerging is a person who seems to have been disturbed for years. Neighbors and acquaintances have related that he was quiet, and had fairly recently become a loner who rarely spoke to others. His parents may have home-schooled him because he was a misfit or socially inept. We don't yet know this.

Perhaps they sensed he was "not right" and felt he could be best helped by keeping him home.

According to Murray's posted internet rants, he claimed he had been seeing psychologists or counselors.

By all current accounts Murray's parents are godly. Murray's father is a neurologist who specializes in Multiple Sclerosis. I'd say that qualifies as knowledgeable and educated.

It remains to be seen, but I wouldn't be surprised if we find out Murray had been taking Prozac, Serafem or some other SSRI but recently quit. So did Eric Harris, the psychopathic Columbine mastermind that Murray apparently admired.

One Salient Oversight said...

There are some good YWAMers out there to be sure.

And it sure is possible that Murray had a mental illness.

One Salient Oversight said...

Neighbors and acquaintances have related that he was quiet, and had fairly recently become a loner who rarely spoke to others.

I had to laugh at that sentence. Almost every spree killer or serial killer is quiet and introverted.

Some angry introverts take out their frustrations by shooting people.

The rest become anti-establishment bloggers. ;)

BLBeamer said...

Yes, I laughed when I read that in the Denver Post, too.

Has there ever been a spree killer who was not quiet and kept to himself before his rampage?

BLBeamer said...

While I have very high regard for home schooling in general, I have very low regard for the Bill Gothard founded Institute for Basic Youth Conflicts.

It looks like Matthew Murray was home schooled using Gothard's curriculum. I have no respect for Gothard and his works-based theology. In fact, our pastor's high regard for Gothard is one of the reasons I left a previous church.

Now it looks like Gothard may be partially responsible for the Murray shootings, along with his parents who selected the curriculum.

Gothard's institute is responsible for causing more conflicts than resolving them, in my opinion. This story is more evidence of that.

Allan Nixon said...

Bummer about the sucky YWAM experience you had.

Can I ask though... where did you get involved with YWAM? There in Oz? Or somewhere else?

One Salient Oversight said...

Allan,

It was a looooong time ago - probably 20 years now. It was an isolated case and I learned much about the Christian faith after working through the confusion I felt.

It was not any formal association with YWAM, just one person who influenced me at a bible study one night. He was Australian. That was about it.

OnceaYWAMer... said...

I know that this post is years old now, but for the sake of history... I'll leave a comment about YWAM.

A lot of criticism that YWAM experiences is from people who think that intercession is some sort of mind control or whatever and whatnot. But some of it is warranted.

I served at YWAM Denver for 3.5 years. The moment I heard about this I said to my friend, "I bet he was released and told they couldn't help him." This was long before any of the stuff had come out about his time with YWAM.

YWAM Denver is so much like high school it isn't funny. If you are the popular kids, you'll get ahead, and you'll lead the outreaches you want to lead, and you'll staff the school you want to staff. There was a kid that was being "groomed" for staff while he was still in his DTS- I watched it happen. At the same time, I can name half a dozen extremely faithful people who never made it out of accounting, the kitchen or maintenance. I roomed with a woman from Indonesia who worked in the kitchen for years- never school staff- who was just grateful to be in America. But the misfits and those who aren't "fixed" after a prayer session or two are stuck in a corner doing busy work and are told to be thankful to be doing God's work. A lot of extremely genuine people who are faithful to their jobs and whatnot end up leaving because they can't justify being supported when they're not doing anything and it's obvious they never will.

I'm thankful for YWAM for what it did for me and the foundation it gave me, but I wouldn't send anyone I care about to YWAM Denver. Students are seen as walking tuition checks, and as staffers we were encouraged to really "talk up" the secondary schools if the next quarter's numbers weren't high enough. And the music- ugh. I have never seen a church or a ministry so shamelessly manipulate the music they use to get the desired emotional response out of people based on what was being taught that week. As a staffer who watched at least a dozen quarters go by, I can say without a doubt that they pick the "inspired" worship playlist based on what the DTS is going through that week. Openness and brokeness? Oh, you can bet there will be tear jerkers. In fact, staff is given the heads up at staff meetings based on the anticipated reaction and number of "ministering" staff members needed during a particular worship time.

I know I sound like someone with an axe to grind, but really- when compared to the other bases I worked with, YWAM Denver runs more like a $ driven, bottom line organization than I have ever seen. There are some very amazing staff members there, and they do their best in the framework they are given. But overall- it is not a place I would send someone.

Murray was asked to leave his DTS b/c of the concerns about his mental health. This is a very legitimate thing if the reports about him are true. If anything- I think YWAM needs to be a little stronger in their ability to know when they are in over their head with an issue rather than just pray over someone and tell them it's gone and they should live in victory now. (Happened to me, and half my students.) But did they contact his family and mention that they thought he needed some serious psychological help? Did they ever follow up with him? I know they see hundreds of young people a year, but this is serious business. Surely a 10 minute phone call was warranted? I'm not saying that Murray was right in what he did- not at all. But maybe this could have been avoided?

ChainedCarrie said...

"Homeschooling only works if the parents are godly and knowledgeable". How can this be true since both formerly homeschooled murderers are evangelicals?

I was homeschooled from 3rd grade through high school, and I and many of the other homeschoolers I know are now in college or older. We all came from families of law-abiding citizens, many of whom are atheists or pagans. None of the formerly-homeschooled adults who I know (and there are many of them) have committed any crimes.

PrincessMia said...

I agree with ChainedCarrie: it's not just whether you're "evangelical" or not. It's much more than that. There's some wacked people out there professing to be Christian and godly, but really just have a skewed view of reality. Case in point, my old pastor. Incidentally, they can be the most scary because they're determined they're right and use all sorts of scriptures and reasonings to justify it.

But that's not everyone. It's just mainly the wacko ones that get all the publicity so it sheds a negative light on the normal ones.

Roland Frank said...

YWAM IS ACULT!!!!!! THEY ARE ARE A REALLY SCREWED UP ORGANIZATION. I WAS INVOLVED WITH WYAM IN THE EARLY 80's . WHEN I LEFT, I HAD A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN.I HAD TO BE PUT ON MEDICATION FOR A YEAR BECAUSE OF THE PANIC ATTACKS.THEY ARE A
HORRIBLE GROUP. A GOOD WEB-SITE TO GO TO IS SPIRITUAL ABUSE IN PARADISE. THIS WEB SITE SAYS WILL ANSWER A LOT OF QUESTIONS.IT IS NO SURPRISE THAT THIS YOUNG MAN TOOK UP ARMS AGAINST THE WYAM GROUP. HE WAS PISSED FROM ALL THE SPIRITUAL ABUSE HE HAD TO TAKE FROM THIS GROUP.

joy said...

Both the Bill Gothard teachings and YWAM have for years been exposed as being
cult-like. There is a website created by survivors of the Bill Gothard teachings.
He was found to have molested some of his students. Both teachings are highly
controlling.

There are many articles from many different sources and years about the serious
problems with YWAM.

There are less but some sites about the problems with Bill Gothard's organization.

Of course it is horrible and tragic that a person killed other people, and
I would definitely stay AWAY from both of these groups as they are both
unhealthy.

Look up YWAM online and you will find many websites and bad experiences different
people have had with them.

Be very careful before getting involved in a closed group where you are completely
dependent upon them.

Also YWAM has a habit of physically throwing people out for no good reason and
leaving them abandoned, peniless and homeless. I suppose this is a good example
of being Christ like.

The entire organization of YWAM is very troubled, it is not just a few people
or a few random bad experiences, it is systematic and as far as I know has never
been corrected.

Same is true for the Bill Gothard organization although less well known.

Do your own research and stay away from these dangerous groups if you value
your sanity.