amish_manAfter a man burst into a Pennsylvania schoolhouse Monday and shot five young girls to death, the Amish community that was left to deal with the tragedy expressed a range of emotions, but anger was not one of them.

Rita Rose, a local midwife and friend who worked amid the Amish community, told NBC that the mother of one of the victims, a 13 year-old girl, has already forgiven the gunman.

They all have.

“She holds no ill will toward the shooter. She’s very forgiving. Christ forgave us, and we in turn forgive, and they honestly have forgiven,” she said. “Even last night, there was no anger toward the shooter.”

The night of the shooting a mental health team arrived at a local firehouse where a gathering of 40 Amish neighbors came to find information and answers to questions about dealing with trauma.

The psychologist that arrived that night was surprised that they were not only talking about supporting the families of the victims, they were also discussing ways they could help the family of the killer, a man who lived nearby but who was not Amish.

He told NPR, “They were talking about how to support his family (the shooter, who killed himself had a wife and three children). They were planning to send a contingent over, perhaps bringing over some food. They had already gotten to the place of forgiveness.”

In the LA Times was this account of the Amish and their reactions:

Rather than dwell on the victims, “though this is a close-knit community, where few are strangers,” Amish residents spoke of their concern for the Roberts family; their sorrow that a man could become so unhinged, so alienated…

“I wish someone could have helped him out, poor soul. It’s obvious that something was troubling him.”

An Amish woman who gave her name as Irene also expressed compassion for the gunman. “I am very thankful,” she said, “that I was raised to believe you don’t fight back. You should forgive.”

The shooter’s wife Marie Roberts released a statement Monday night to the media saying: “The man who did this today is not the Charlie that I’ve been married to for almost 10 years. My husband is loving, supportive, thoughtful, all the things you’d always want and more. Our hearts are broken, our lives are shattered, and we grieve for the innocence and lives that were lost today.”

NPR Story on All Things Considered audio archives
LA Times coverage
Video interview with Rita Rose (and story) on MSNBC

7 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t want to be generalizing about religion…
    But, I never cease to wonder about some people who say they are Christian, but, when the deed of forgiveness is called for, they so rarely choose it as an option, especially in times of crisis or crime.  More quickly they reach for revenge, anger…  Indeed, the Dalai Lama says we have been praying for centuries… and the wars still rage on… We don’t need prayer

  2. If you don’t want to generalize….
    then don’t!

    Here are the TOS:

    Offensive comments include material that is defamatory, inflammatory, slanderous, threatening, harassing, abusive, hateful or known to be false.

    I find it offensive and quite inflammatory to make such a statement that is against christians specifcally. There are plenty of secularists that do the same things you speak of. To single out some” christians is absurd when any other group has the same characteristics! I come here for positive news

  3. I didn’t generalize.
    I don’t use sweeping generalizations. If I had I would agree with you that it would have been of an inflammatory nature… But, I said I wonder about some” Christians who choose not to forgive.

    The reason I “wonder about some Christians” and I don’t bother writing about secularists

  4. Forgiveness is humbling
    I find it humbling when someone who has suffered a great wrong is able to forgive. I don’t know if I’d be able to do it, I’d hope I would. That’s the positive message of Christianity, isn’t it? It’s also the positive message at the heart of all religions if we try to look for it. Doesn’t mean it’s easy though, anger and revenge are easier.

    When I heard about the nun who was killed a few weeks ago my first reaction was one of horror and anger. When I learnt that her last words were to forgive her killers I felt as if she was challenging my reaction. Maybe we should all be trying to look a bit harder for the people of all faiths that are doing exceptional things.

    If I’d taken any unintended offence at Geri’s comment/generalisation regarding Christians, I think I’d find it pretty easy to forgive in the light of the overwhelmingly positive nature of what this site is about!

  5. Thanks Matt!
    Many people hear things that aren’t said or intended.

    It’s important not to use generalizations ever when speaking about groups, like the religions, or the political groups. People are far different from each other even within these groups.

    I reiterate that some” Christians do not ‘walk their talk’ when it comes to forgiveness. So it is with others in society

  6. I always find it humbling when I read or hear of people who are able to forgive in this manner. It is a lesson to me as a Christian and one of the things that I consciously struggle with. And no one has ever done anything nearly as devastating to me! We all are in the learning process but I certainly have to take a good look at my ability to forgive. It does not come naturally. I have to choose to do this but whenever .