Pastor Davey Blackburn had a surprising offer for the alleged killers of his pregnant wife, Amanda – forgiveness.
In a statement posted on the Facebook page of Blackburn’s Resonate Church, the pastor said: “Though everything inside of me wants to hate, be angry, and slip into despair I choose the route of forgiveness, grace and hope. … Today I am deciding to love, not hate.”
Pastor Blackburn was reacting to the news Indianapolis police charged two suspects in the murder of his wife. According to an affidavit filed in the Marion Superior Criminal Court, Larry Jo Taylor Jr. shot Amanda Blackburn in the back of the head and then stared into her face as she bled. A suspected accomplice, Jalen Watson, has also been charged with Blackburn’s murder.
Both men have additionally been charged with burglary and robbery. A third suspect, Diano Gordon, has been detained but has not yet been charged. All of the suspects in the Blackburn murder case are black. Pastor Blackburn and his late wife are both white.
Taylor and Watson both pleaded “not guilty” in the initial hearing Tuesday. Because the Blackburns’ unborn child was killed in the attack, prosecutors have filed a sentencing enhancement which could add years to the defendants’ prison terms if they are found guilty.
Amanda Blackburn’s murder was the grisly conclusion to an alleged robbery spree as Taylor, Watson, and Gordon are accused of robbing several homes in the area before arriving at the Blackburn residence. According to the affidavit, Taylor “busted” Amanda Blackburn in the mouth with his gun and stole ATM cards. While Taylor stayed with Amanda, Watson and Gordon allegedly tried to use Blackburn’s ATM cards to withdraw money before later reuniting with Taylor. Taylor then allegedly told them he had killed Amanda Blackburn.
“The Word of God (Matthew 5:44) commands believers in Jesus Christ to ‘love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,'” Gallups told WND. “This very difficult command is one that pastor Davey Blackburn is choosing to exemplify. I pray that we never have to make the difficult choice of obedience he is making, but pastor Blackburn is doing what a true man of God must do. His powerful example may very well result in the salvation and life-transformation of others who are watching his witness unfold.
“To love your enemies does not necessarily mean that you withhold lawful justice from them. It does mean, however, that as you pray for them, you turn them over to the Lord’s hand and ask the Lord to convict their soul so that they too might find the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. This principle is much easier to preach and teach than it is to live. Certainly, pastor Blackburn has laid down a stellar path of his pursuit of the biblical direction.
“I am fervently praying for pastor Blackburn’s strength, courage and wisdom as he continues in obedience.”
“Davey’s Blackburn’s inspired response to the murder of his wife Amanda and unborn child is a testament to the healing power of Christianity,” Cashill told WND. “Without intending to, Blackburn has shown how just utterly petty and vengeful are the campus narcissists demanding reparations for vague racial slights real or imagined.”
Cashill also suggested Blackburn had shown why Christianity is a superior basis to building a civil society than Islam.
“He also shows a side of Christianity that has no equivalent in Islam, which is why radical Islamic ventures inevitably end in failure,” Cashill said.
Gallups believes pastor Blackburn is acting in the finest tradition of Christian believers.
“History is replete with murderers, the sexually perverse, and the like who repented of their wickedness and found true forgiveness from the Lord and then went on to make a difference for the Kingdom of God,” Gallups said. “This is what pastor Blackburn says he is praying for in the lives of the young men who perpetrated this unspeakable horror upon his family. I am in awe of pastor Blackburn’s faith and strength.”
But not everyone thinks pastor Blackburn should unilaterally offer forgiveness. Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, a WND columnist and author of “The Antidote: Healing America From the Poison of Hate, Blame, and Victimhood,” said pastor Blackburn’s actions were “a sign of weakness.”
“The criminals haven’t asked for forgiveness, so how does he know if they want to be forgiven?” Peterson asked. “It’s the criminals that need to apologize to him for their heinous crime. They offended the pastor; he didn’t offend them. So I’m not sure why he feels the need to forgive them. If he’s a man of God, he should be living a life of forgiveness anyways. If the people who committed this crime are truly sorry and they ask for forgiveness, then it makes sense for him to offer forgiveness.”
But Alveda King, head of African-American outreach for Priests for Life, said the pastor is not weak to forgive.
“He’s not anymore weak than Jesus was weak for saying ‘turn the other cheek,’ or saying to ‘pray for those who despitefully use you,'” King told WND. “He was no more weak than Martin Luther King Sr. was for forgiving the man who shot and killed his wife in church on Sunday while she was playing the organ. And he was no more weak than Martin Luther King Jr. who said to forgive your enemies.
“Forgiveness is not weakness, it is strength. The spirit of revenge and taking offense will only beget more strife and violence.”
Peterson suggests the criminals who preyed upon Amanda Blackburn had “given in to evil and are consumed with hatred for all people – they especially hate white people.”
The civil rights leader and founder and president of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny, or BOND, said, “These types of people are often the product of a bad upbringing and failed parents.”
“I can assure you that they didn’t have a father to guide them and to teach them to overcome evil with good,” Peterson told WND.
Colin Flaherty, who has chronicled nationwide black violence directed against whites in “White Girl Bleed A Lot: The Return of Racial Violence to America and How the Media Ignore It,” suggested Indianapolis is a city on the brink.
“People in Indianapolis are shocked and horrified by the recent murder of the pastor’s wife, but they are not surprised,” Flaherty told WND. “Black-on-white violence is part of the fabric of life in this Midwestern city, and few people can muster up the energy to deny that.”
He continued, “Black-on-white violence and home invasions also make regular appearances in the news. But reporters do not connect the dots. Instead, they say the dots do not exist.”
Indeed, before the suspects in the case were arrested, Indianapolis police held a press conference in which Sheriff John Layton stated “things are not progressing well” in the fight against crime in the city. Officials and community leaders also had to plead for help from residents to come forward with information and end the “code of silence in our streets.” Police specifically identified the reluctance of residents to “snitch” to the police as a major challenge.
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson suggested the relatively low profile of the case is yet another example of racial double standards in the United States. He suggested if the races of the victims and suspects were reversed, it would have been called a “hate crime.”
“The Department of Justice would have opened an investigation for civil rights violations,” Peterson said. “Barack Obama would have held a prime-time press conference hyping up the need to end white racism. The local and national media would be all over the issue doing specials and portraying it as a national race crisis.”
Pastor Gallups believes the case is a powerful reminder “we live in a fallen world.” But he urges believers to put their faith in God in the face of such “evil.”
“For pastor Blackburn to extend his forgiveness to his wife’s murderers does not mean that there will be no consequences for the perpetrators,” Gallups explained. “It does not take away the indescribable hurt that the pastor, their family and their dear friends will have to endure. But, it does mean that pastor Blackburn is demonstrating to the world that his faith is genuine and that the presence and love of Christ in the heart of a true believer is a real and powerful force. And, in the end, Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God will get the glory.”