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Matthew Murray’s Nightmare of Christianity

The gunman who killed four young people in Arvada and Colorado Springs despised his own deeply fundamentalist upbringing but couldn’t quite escape it. Even while quoting copiously from the Web rantings of Columbine killer Eric Harris (“God, I can’t wait until I can kill you people”) in his own cyberspace farewell, Matt Murray couldn’t bring himself to use the word “fuck”—editing it out of the quote and replacing it with a G-rated string of symbols, @#%$!

Murray’s Web postings (under the screen name “nghtmrchld26”) have been removed from the message board for ex-pentecostals where they first appeared, but they continue to float around the Internet, including here. News reports have focused on his final message, aping Harris — posted Sunday, several hours after the shootings at the Faith Bible Chapel campus in Arvada and shortly before the attack on New Life Church that ended in Murray’s death. (Now ruled a suicide.) But earlier entries contain some intriguing information, too.

Turns out our gunman was a fan of Cradle of Filth and caught the black metal band’s show at the Fillmore October 16. In doing so he was defying a childhood and adolescence in which access to all popular media, even Christian music, was severely restricted. Murray writes at length about how his parents considered The Simpsons to be “a very evil and satanic TV show” and ultimately cut off all broadcast channels in the home, using the television just for inspirational videos. “Me, I found a New Law to live by,” he wrote. “I don’t have to be abused nor submit to these liars and their lies nor do I have to be afraid of this make-believe hell and false theory of salvation.”

The writings suggest Murray struggled with depression and was seeing a therapist. (He refers to taking Prozac for eight months.) Although New Life officials have denied that he had any connection to their organization, he claims that Ted Haggard was his mother’s “favorite pastor,” and one of his poems exhorts, “bow down to a lying clergy of sodomy” — a Haggard reference, to be sure.

Murray’s family is surely hurting, just like the families of his victims. The postings don’t provide any definitive answers about his home life or his mental health. But the pain, isolation and recrimination evident in Murray’s seethings will probably keep social researchers busy for some time. That he felt compelled, despite their wildly different backgrounds, to assume the mantle of Harris – right down to quoting KMFDM and putting on a trenchcoat— but still couldn’t cuss worth a damn is downright pathetic. The New Law didn’t set him free; it just gave him a new phony god. –- Alan Prendergast

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