Suspect’s church calls Atlanta spa shootings ‘rebellion’ against God

Suspect Robert Aaron Long being removed from Crabapple First Baptist Church membership

Officials at Crabapple First Baptist Church in North Fulton, the church attended by shooting suspect Robert Aaron Long, said in a statement released Friday morning on its website that the congregation was “devastated” at hearing of the mass killings at three metro businesses.

“We were absolutely devastated at this senseless loss of life and callous disregard for human beings created in the image of God,” according to the statement. “We grieve for the victims and their families, and we continue to pray for all of those affected by this heinous crime as they deal with unimaginable pain and sorrow.

“Furthermore, we were absolutely distraught when we found out that the shooter was a member of our congregation. The Long family have been members of our church for many years. We watched Aaron grow up and accepted him into church membership when he made his own profession of faith in Jesus Christ. These unthinkable and egregious murders directly contradict his own confession of faith in Jesus and the gospel.”

Long, who is from Woodstock, has been charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault in connection with the shooting deaths at three Atlanta spas. Most of the victims were Asian women. There are growing calls for hate crime charges to be added.

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The church, which is located in Milton, said the pastor will have no further comment.

Long, 21, who was arrested about 150 miles south of Atlanta, was said to be very religious and have been active in the church since he was young. He admitted to law enforcement that he was the shooter and that he had visited the spas before.

The church statement said it had started the process of church discipline to remove him from membership “since we can no longer affirm that he is truly a regenerate believer in Jesus Christ.”

The statement goes on to say that “this extreme and wicked act is nothing less than rebellion against our Holy God and His Word. 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. The shootings were a total repudiation of our faith and practice, and such actions are completely unacceptable and contrary to the gospel.”

The statement made it clear that no blame should be placed on the eight victims.

Long, the statement said, is alone responsible for “his evil actions and desires.”

The church said it has been cooperating with law enforcement and prays that both “earthly justice and divine justice” will be done.

Crabapple First Baptist Church in North Fulton issued a statement condemning actions of suspected spa shooter Robert Aaron Long.
Crabapple First Baptist Church in North Fulton issued a statement condemning actions of suspected spa shooter Robert Aaron Long.

The church, which issued a shorter statement earlier this week, reiterated that it would continue to pray for the victims and their families and asked all Christians to do so as well.

In a question-and-answer portion of the statement, the church confirmed that Long was a member of the church.

It clarified that Long’s father never worked for the church. It also said the church took down its social media and website out of caution, fearing for the safety of members.