I take serious issue with the reporting regarding the incident Wednesday night at Steamboat Christian Center. Specifically, I disagree with the liberal use of the word "skit" throughout the stories.
Is the use of this word, which typically describes a light-hearted demonstration of a point, intended to downplay the seriousness of what those unsuspecting kids experienced? I witnessed the aftermath myself in a young family member who attended that night. Having only attended this church a couple of times, he was not accustomed to the so-called "creative ministry" used there and was, quite literally, traumatized. It was not a skit to him.
Skits (even more dramatic ones) are usually presented as such in church. It is my understanding that to these kids, the entire situation was real. Very few people in the room knew that this was a skit. They simply began the study as usual when a man wandered in and shortly thereafter pulled out a gun and threatened the people in the room. The adults then directed the kids to get under the chairs. The situation lasted 30 to 45 minutes, while kids as young as 12 hid - some crying, most pondering impending death at a stranger's gunpoint. This is a serious situation.
Only after the "actor" left and the youth minister claimed friendship with him did the situation start to seem non-life-threatening. But it was too late. The experience of being held hostage at gunpoint can never be erased.
The members of the church who seem to think that everyone is overreacting would perhaps have a different view if it had happened at a school or somewhere else. What if their child had been in English class and a man wandered in, pulled a gun, terrorized the class for 30 minutes, then left and the teacher only then explained that this had been a skit?
Why is this man being allowed to apologize and schmooze his way out of culpability? And before the members of this church dismiss my comments as one of a non-Christian who knows nothing of the ways of the church, I must add that I come from a family of ministers who are very active in church and do missions in various countries.
I firmly believe that under no circumstances is it in line with the teachings of Jesus to terrorize people and make them think their lives are in danger. Most intelligent people are fully aware that in this post-Sept. 11 and post-Columbine world, it is not just foolish, irresponsible and non-Christian to terrorize people, especially children, but it borders on a criminal act.
If someone calls in a bomb threat, they face consequences, even though they don't actually have a bomb. What is the difference here? Why are there no consequences for a man who knowingly terrorized children? This should have been a huge story. An outrage. Instead, the traumatized children were dismissed and the man responsible excused. Wrong.