Bishop Guy Erwin’s Statement on the Thousand Oaks Shooting

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminds us that God is very close to those who grieve, and brings them solace.

Late last night, an assailant opened fire in a popular bar in Thousand Oaks, California, and killed 12 persons, including the first law enforcement officer to respond. Many others were injured. Many of the patrons of the bar were local college students, some from our own California Lutheran University nearby.

It is impossible to express how deeply shocked and saddened I (and all of us) are by this tragic event. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims, and to those who are being treated for their injuries. We are grateful for the care being shown for the victims by members of the community.

Our special care right now is for the California Lutheran University community, which has been deeply affected by this tragedy: as our students and staff mourn their friends, waiting in suspense for word on the condition of the injured, the Cal Lutheran community has itself been wounded, and its sense of security shattered by this violent act.

It may never be possible to know what motivated the person who committed this crime, but tragically, such events are not rare in our nation, and—increasingly—mass shootings have become commonplace in America. What must we do, as a nation, to confront this unacceptable “new normal”?

We live in a culture full of violence, even violence as entertainment. We live in a culture in which mental illness is not recognized for the great problem it is, and those damaged by their experience of violence do not receive the help they need. We live in a world in which, increasingly, selfishness is promoted over the common good. And we are a nation awash in guns.

I call on all Christians, and all who receive this message, to consider how we each can work to reduce violence in our society, to resist its glorification in the public forum, and to care more deeply for the welfare of those caught up in cycles of under-treated mental illness. I call on all of us to join in promoting a more peaceful society by connecting with neighbors and friends so that no one suffers alone.

I ask for your prayers for peace and healing, but I ask also for you to take action in your neighborhoods and communities, in your political lives as well as your lives of faith, to fight the scourge of violence in our midst. Jesus also says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”

May God be with Cal Lutheran, with Thousand Oaks, and with all of us in this troubled time; may you find healing and consolation in your friends and your faith, and may you find new resolve to resist the impulses toward violence that threaten to tear us apart.

God bless you all.


  1. Beverly Pandora says

    I so understand…two of my daughters, son-in-law and friends were apart of the Las Vegas massacre ~~ not injured physically but mentally. Once again another senseless and needless incident.

    Yes, God bless all

  2. Marilyn Tabor Duba says

    Amen. Indeed, I appreciate your words. Thank you. We are a nation that needs help in many directions. May we open up to God’s desire to hear from us, may we talk with Him, privately and with others & take His directions for us.

  3. Rt.Rev.Manlun, Bishop says

    So sad to hear this news. This type of shooting offen happened twice in a year in US.
    I really
    mourned the untimely dismissed of the alumni and my prayer is speedy recovery of the enjuirie, victims
    May the gives peace

  4. Joan Gray says

    Thank you Bishop Erwin!

  5. John says

    Thank you for this. Your acknowledgment of our violent culture and our societal unwillingness to effectively treat mental illness is very, very helpful. I noticed that you avoided one important word in your message: Gun. Nothing about gun control, or the effect of guns on public health. As a father who lost a daughter to suicide by gun, let me share some sobering facts. 2/3’s of all US gun deaths are not the result of homicides, terrorist attacks, police shootings, or gang violence. 2/3’s of all gun deaths in the US are suicides. Someone in a flash moment of anger or despair picks up a gun and they are gone. The U.S suicide rate is now the highest in US history, and rising. We have a suicide rate 8 times higher than any other country. There are several contributing factors involved of course, but gun availability is critical. Most suicides in the US are a result of a sudden, flash decisions. Where there is no gun available, most suicide attempts fail. Where there is a gun involved, most suicide attempts succeed. If we look clearly at the numbers, the right to bear arms is no longer about self protection or power. The right to bear arm has overwhelming become about the opportunity to bury your loved ones.

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