Baptist leaders and other clergy voiced sadness and prayers on social media after a terrorist attack killed 22 people and injured 59 at a concert by American singer Ariana Grande May 22 in Manchester, England.
Police named 22-year-old Salman Abedi, the son of Libyan refugees who came to the UK fleeing the six-decade regime of Muammar Gaddafi, as the suicide bomber in the attack at the Manchester Arena. The Islamic State claimed responsibility, but officials say that connection has not been verified.
“Shocked to hear the news as I woke up this morning,” Lynn Green, general secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said on Facebook. “Praying that all people of peace would resist the darkness.”
Tony Peck, general secretary of the European Baptist Federation, called the attack a “terrorist atrocity” and urged Baptists across Europe to pray for the people of Manchester. “Some of our churches in the region will open this evening for prayer,” Peck said. “Lord, have mercy.”
Phil Jump, regional minster for the North Western Baptist Association in greater Manchester, said the Baptist community was “stunned and shocked” by news of the attack. “At this stage, we do not know whether any of our churches and families will have been affected, but our thoughts and prayers are with all who have been harmed by this act of mindless evil,” Jump said.
The presidents of Churches Together in England, Anglican bishops and the Methodist Church all released statements and prayers about the incident. David Gushee, an ethics professor in the United States, wondered what kind of person would carry out an attack at a rock concert where many in the audience were children.
“We know that individual human beings can lose their bearings, become ill in mind or wicked in spirit, and end up making terribly wrong choices that hurt others,” Gushee, a professor at Mercer University, wrote in a blog for Religion News Service.
“That is hard enough for us to face, and the consequences are often horrible, but what is worse is that we know, for a fact, that organized subcultures, right now mainly religious, set out each day to train impressionable people into their horrifying way of looking at the right and the good, in which the best use of one’s life is to die killing others, as many others as possible,” Gushee said. “One wonders what God thinks of this way of being human.”