Lessons from Oklahoma City

August 10, 2017

I was a young adult when Timothy McVeigh bombed the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, OK. I recall thinking that it was the worst thing I’d ever heard of, and that the bomber or bombers must be completely evil, and how could this happen? The unfortunate truth is that much worse was to come, in the form of terrorists, but what was distinctly disturbing about this particular terrorist attack was that it was the homegrown variety. This was a direct attack on the U.S. government, by one of its own citizens. 

Oklahoma City is a fabulous documentary available on Netflix which details the white supremacy movement in the 1970s and 1980s that directly resulted in Timothy McVeigh finding his way to terrorism. It includes a great deal of details about the government interventions in Ruby Ridge and then at Waco, TX.  

I learned quite a bit that I didn’t know already about Ruby Ridge and Waco. Interestingly enough, these movements by the government not only emboldened the white supremacy movement, it directly correlated to a huge surge in membership for these crazy, militant groups. How people can feel such hatred, such violence, such extremism – and all in the name of Christianity, I will never understand. 

Apparently Timothy McVeigh entered the U.S. Army with some solid notion of patriotism. But, after his experiences in the First Gulf War, and his subsequent failure at Ranger Training, he became utterly disillusioned by the U.S. Government. He was also fascinated by guns. After watching the events unfold on television at Ruby Ridge and then at Waco, and then the passage of the Brady Bill, he becamse obsessed by the notion that the U.S. Government wanted to storm into everyone’s homes and take all their guns away. 

What was particuarly interesting was that during this timeframe, gun shows were apparently notorious for their white supremacy outlook and many people came to these shows as members of those militia groups. I have no idea if that is the case now, but apparently it was then.

McVeigh went to his grave (via government execution) feeling that he was a martyr for his cause. He specifically targeted the Murrah Building because it housed people from the ATF, military recruiters, and other government entitites. He really thought that he was paying the government back for what they had done at Ruby Ridge and Waco. 

I don’t know what to do with something like this other than to pray for love, forgiveness, and peace. Obviously, the people affected by this tragedy will never be the same. On top of the adult casualties, 19 children died in the onsite daycare facility. The grief would be unspeakable. 

It’s too late to pray for Timothy McVeigh. But, we can still pray for the people who belong to the estimated 500 white supremacist militia groups in the country today.

Colossians 3:15 (NRSV): And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.

Serve all with love.

Photo courtesy of: stocksnap.io

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