Crabapple First Baptist Church in Fulton County has released a statement condemning the actions of its former member Robert Aaron Long, the 21-year-old gunman accused of killing eight people, most of them women of Asian descent. Church leaders say they “can no longer affirm that he is truly a regenerate believer in Jesus Christ.”
“We want to be clear that this extreme and wicked act is nothing less than rebellion against our Holy God and His Word,” the statement reads. “Aaron’s actions are antithetical to everything that we believe and teach as a church. In the strongest possible terms, we condemn the actions of Aaron Long as well as his stated reasons for carrying out this wicked plan.”
Police have not yet charged Long with a hate crime. While the majority of his victims were of Asian descent, he himself said he was trying to “eliminate” the sexual “temptation” he claims the women posed. Long had what he called a “sex addiction” which he had sought treatment for from Christian treatment centers. His killings sit at the tragic intersection of a number of different complex issues like misogyny, anti-Asian racism and toxic purity culture.
The church fell under a lot of scrutiny in the days following the shooting at three Atlanta-area spas, as numerous former associates of Long’s told reporters that reporters that they felt he attributed the guilt and shame he felt over his “sex addiction” to a religious upbringing. Crabapple Church is part of Founders Ministries — a group that has been trying to push the Southern Baptist Convention into a more conservative corner in recent years.
Long’s victims include 33-year-old Delaina Ashley Yaun, 54-year-old Paul Andre Michels, 44-year-old Daoyou Feng, 49-year-old Xiaojie Tan, 74-year-old Soon Chung Park, 69-year-old Suncha Kim, 63-year-old Yong Ae Yue and 51-year-old Hyun Jung Grant. Grant was a single mom, and a GoFundMe has been created to collect money for her two sons. Kim’s family has also started a GoFundMe, which can be found here. Michels’ family GoFund Me can be found here. A GoFundMe to help pay for Tan’s daughter’s expenses has been started here. Yaun and Yue‘s GoFundMe sites are raising money as well.