Christian leaders are offering their condolences and calls for prayer and action following a mass shooting in California that left around a dozen people dead and several others wounded.
On Wednesday evening, a shooter entered the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks and opened fired, murdering 12 people and reportedly committing suicide.
Pastor Greg Laurie, senior pastor of the megachurch Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, released a statement emailed to supporters on Thursday in response to the tragedy.
Laurie stated that while issues of gun control and mental illness should be discussed, people must also note that “pure evil” was “another factor at work, in fact the most significant factor of all.”
“According to the Bible, there really is a devil, there really is evil, and because of this people can be motivated to do unimaginable things, like a man walking into a bar and indiscriminately shooting people,” Laurie said.
“This is why America needs to pray. We need to pray for the protection of people wherever they are — synagogues, churches, malls, restaurants and wherever else they congregate.”
“There aren’t laws that can stop a person committed to hurting other people, but it does add a sense of urgency for reaching all people with the message of hope and life change found in Jesus Christ.”
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Bishop Guy Erwin, who is based in the Los Angeles area, took to social media to express his condolences.
“Devastated by the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks last night. Heartrending & sad,” tweeted Erwin on Thursday morning.
“God is with those who mourn; we surround them with our care as well. Then we must address the parts of our culture that have made this so common in our land.”
The reported shooter, 28-year-old Ian Long, was a retired Marine Corps veteran. Authorities have not yet determined a motive for the massacre.