The American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) condemns the gun violence at Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church (ITPC) in Laguna Woods, California on May 15, 2022, which left church member Dr. John Cheng dead and five others wounded. We commend Dr. Cheng, whose courageous act of tackling the assailant allowed others to subdue him, and we echo the words of Sheriff Don Barnes, who called Cheng’s heroism “a meeting of good versus evil” that probably saved the lives “of upwards of dozens of people.”
We are concerned by police reports that political hatred for Taiwan motivated the shooter. We note that the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan has been outspoken in supporting democratization, human rights, and Taiwan independence. Given this tragic intersection of a hate crime with religious worship, our grief is intensified. In solidarity, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the victims, their families, and all the people of ITPC and the Geneva Presbyterian Church where ITPC worships. We invite American Baptists and all people of faith and good conscience to pray for their healing and recovery from this trauma.
Together, let us work to address the scourge of targeted violence against ethnic and religious communities which tears at the fabric of our life together. Self-governance cannot survive under conditions of violence and the threat of violence in places of public gathering, including churches, town halls, schools, movie theaters, and grocery stores.
We encourage our representatives to pursue vigorous measures to reduce gun violence and restore the health and safety of our public spaces, and we recommit ourselves to the public life of our towns, cities, states, and nation.