Alison and Adam

Another week, another devastating killing. The regularity with which these tragedies occur is perhaps the most disturbing challenge that our modern society currently faces. Why is this happening? And how can we get it to stop?

All big, important questions to answer – but unfortunately too big and too important to totally tackle all within one sermon. Today, in particular, we hope to hone in on one small part of this debate – namely, what kind of attention should the media and its consumers (us) pay to stories like this one? Perhaps it’s time to focus less on killers, and more on the killed.

What Happened?

In case you happen to have missed this piece of news, we are discussing in particular the on-air shooting of a young television reporter, Alison Parker, and her cameraman, Adam Ward in Virginia. It was later revealed that their killer was a disgruntled former employee of the station at which Alison and Adam worked… after leading police on a high-speed chase, he shot himself.

The media coverage following this story, at least at first, was largely focused on the killer. News stations across the country played and re-played video of the shooting while keeping audiences updated on the chase the killer was leading police on, and school closures in the area. Later, when the killer’s identity was confirmed, on-air personalities turned their attention to the killer’s past at the television station, and his own disturbing posts on social media on what turned out to be a highly-orchestrated murder… seemingly designed to drive enormous amounts of attention.

The Big Problem

We, and several others, were incredibly disturbed by the amount of attention given by the media to the killer. From where we’re sitting, this individual wanted nothing more than the media spotlight, and we were quick to hand him exactly what he wanted. We let him win.

When we devote attention to killers, and to their gruesome actions, we only glorify them. This only serves to encourage others who might have similar views.

So, what can we do? Well, it’s a small thing, but it’s something that you could do right now that would make a difference: stop talking about killers. When a tragic killing like this occurs, don’t buy into the hype over the killer. Don’t’ go out of your way to learn his/her name, don’t click on news articles discussing him/her, and tune away from news coverage devoted to his/her agenda.

Our society needs to have big conversations about some of the underlying issues here. We need to talk about guns and we need to talk about mental health. Unfortunately, given some of the more powerful players who have influence over our world, we likely won’t be having any of these conversations anytime soon. By aggressively refusing to buy into the agendas of killers, however, we can instantly change the dialogue and remove some of the power that they have – this is a “protest” you can wage right from your phone or living room couch, and it could save lives.

Rest in Peace, Alison and Adam

In this spirit, we would like now to devote ourselves to remembering the beautiful, too-short lives of Alison and Adam… the following is an excerpt of a post we made to our Facebook page:

Alison Parker and Adam Ward were beloved friends, family members, and employees. Alison attended James Madison University and at graduation was thought to be one of the most promising journalists the university had seen, according to Brad Jenkins, an employee of the student newspaper “The Breeze,” where Parker worked.

Adam had worked at the station since 2011. He started in the production department, before working as a camera operator in the studio and then becoming a cameraman in the field. Remembered for always having a smile on his face, he always arrived early and worked hard. “He proved himself to be just a fine photojournalist, and the kind of guy who was on his way home from work and heard about something breaking, he would just turn around and go do it,” WDBJ’s General Manager Jeffrey Marks said.

“I cannot tell you how much they were loved, Alison and Adam, by the WDBJ 7 team,” Marks said on air while announcing their deaths. “They both were in love with other members of the team here, and our hearts are broken.”

Alison was in a serious relationship with another station personality, while Adam was engaged to a producer. After the shooting was announced, in his written comments, Alison’s boyfriend declared: “I am numb.””


  1. ronald fox says:

    I just wonder if the killer was a Christian,and as such religion is the real problem in the US.

    1. Teresa Muhl says:

      My heart sank when I saw your last moments, my heart sank with outrage at the evil in this person.
      May you both have peace., may your families have peace to get them through these days. I must even give peace to the family of the gunman. They are not responsible for his outrage they are hurting also..Peace be with you all

    2. Kate says:

      There was nothing whatsoever religious in the murderer’s motivations.

      It was a racial hate crime, he said so on social media.

      The media ended up giving him so much attention like he wanted, but so few mentioned the truth of his motivation.

      I agree with the article, murderers shouldn’t be given all this attention by the press, otherwise so many more will copy it too.

    3. Barry says:

      Religion isn’t a lone problem. If a problem at all if one has morals and good grounding. There’s a lot yapping in the world today and some things need to be addressed straight forward and this to stop the wishy washy thinking. The floundering. Call it out as it is and deal with the problems head on. Otherwise we only make it worse with time.

  2. LeVraiFrog says:

    Absolutely brilliant- well positioned and appropriately balanced – I command you for taking the position of reason and encourage anyone reading this sermon to use it, and spread the word – the victims are more important than the killer, who should be buried without references, so everyone can forget this sick individual but cherish the memory of those we lost.

  3. Terry Hayes says:

    Social media should be examined. Why did this killer outline his plans on social media? He wanted attention. What drove him to seek attention? Was the pressure os rejection on social media a driving force in these murders? Not too long ago a young girl committed suicide because of pressure from people on the social media site. Why does this type of behavior on a public meeting place go unnoticed. The companies that profit from the publics demand for a social outlet need to be held accountable for the behavior that is displayed on their web sites.

  4. Minister Toby says:

    Prayers for the family & friends.

  5. Dianne Wall says:

    Mass media gives out way too many details and I believe this is how copy cat crimes get started.

  6. Stephen says:

    Absolutely agree with this and appreciate the reference to “the killer” rather than any other information about this deranged person.

  7. J. P says:

    It’s a proven fact how far our society has went down, and rest a sure it’s also a proven fact that because society is at all times pushing us away from the One who made us. Bottom line if we all come together in a positive way and stay strong we can get the media to see the real problem, pray for the victims and their families and pray that all who seek a violent trail the the One above will guide you not to. Amen

    1. Rlax says:

      I dont think you know what proven fact means

      1. Carol says:

        Shame on you, Rlax. That was a hateful comment.

  8. Thomas Keach says:

    There are no words to express the horror of this senseless act of murder. I hope their family and friends will take comfort in knowing they are with God and all is well…

  9. Reverend Paul Connett says:


  10. Randy McDonald PhD says:

    Insanity knows no religion, these poor people and there families suffer because the man was not sane. Our heart goes out to them and their families. May they find peace in the arms of the lord.


  11. Mary says:

    It is a known spiritual principle that what you focus upon in your world or the world at large will grow. Attention feeds energy.
    By all means, let us honor and celebrate the lives of Adam and Allison who were taken from us too soon.
    And, let us have compassion for those who are mentally ill and choose violence as a means of expression in the world.

    All of us start out the same way-as innocent, helpless infants. We desire happiness. We do not want to suffer. We all share that. What happens in our lives and on our journeys to prompt us to choose to harm and kill? We will never know for sure until we have walked in the footsteps of that person.

    We do not need to validate these actions with the precious gift of our time and attention. These are best given to what we would like to see expanding in the world. For me that would be that All people are prospering and healthy, happy and free!

    My prayers are for peace, comfort and strength for all of the loved ones of Adam and Allison…especially their beloveds who witnessed their deaths. May they receive continued support and heal in body, mind and spirit from this terrible experience. May they know that Love is ETERNAL and this Divine Gift will always be a part of them.

    1. Joy Cummings says:

      This is so true and written in a beautiful way-Thank-you

  12. tedmacgillivray says:

    My deepest sympathies for the victims and their families and friends. Surely we can find some way to identify the unbalanced and sociopathic persons who exist at all levels of our (and other) societies, and get them into therapy before they can damage the innocent. Surely freedom is not a license to damage others.

  13. willie says:

    From the torres family may we always keep our heads up high rest in peace.

  14. Krystal says:

    I agree with your suggestion and have been practicing it on my social media since the devestating attacks in Santa Barbara a couple years ago. I will ONLY say or type the names of the victims, not the perpetrators.

  15. Randall Frank says:

    Only the Prayers taken away, will make our Joy complete.

  16. Eddie says:

    This latest killing shows the true hypocricy of the US. For the SC shooter, he had a Confederate Battle Flag, and the focus was on him being a white supremist, and a demand to ban the flag, and even remove General Lee’s uniform. There was even the debasing of Confederate soliders’ graves. After 1955, Congress made it so that they now have Veteran Status, and to deface a veteran’s grave’s a felony…but those people won’t be pressed.

    Meanwhile, the VA killer was a black, gay man, admitting to being, in part, racially motivated, in his killings. Where was the demands to have the Rainbow Flag banned? How is it that one flag’s banned, but another’s not? Across the globe, there have been gay people that have FORCED their way onto others. All their talk about “equality,” yet they try to even shut a church down, because of this. That’s acting like what they accuse people who have any Confederate flag of doing.

    Another issue:

    Back in 1989, 47-year-old Joseph T. Wesbecker, just a month after he began taking Prozac, shot 20 workers in Louisville, Ky., killing nine.

    ===Prozac maker Eli Lilly later settled a lawsuit brought by survivors.===

    1999: 15-year old Oregon school shooter Kip Kinkel, who opened fire in his school cafeteria, had been on Prozac.

    1999: Eric Harris, the Columbine killer, was taking Luvox.

    1999: Conyers, Georgia school shooter T.J. Solomon was on Ritalin.

    2005: Red Lake Indian Reservation shooter Jeff Weise was taking Prozac.

    2007: Virginia Tech shooter Cho Seung-Hui, who shot and killed 32 people, was on anti-depressants and taking Prozac.

    2012: Colorado theater shooter James Holmes… was reportedly heavily hooked on the prescription painkiller Vicodin. And he took a cocktail of anti-depressants before his shooting spree.

    2012: Conn. school shooter Adam Lanza’s uncle said the boy was prescribed Fanapt, a controversial anti-psychotic medicine.

    Prozac: nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, inner restlessness, suicidal thoughts, self mutilation, manic behavior

    Vicodin: confusion, fear, unusual thoughts or behavior; anxiety, dizziness, drowsiness; headache, mood changes.

    Xanax: depressed mood, thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself, unusual risk-taking behavior, decreased inhibitions, no fear of danger; agitation, hostility, hallucinations.

    What you need to know is that the use of anti-depressants in America has skyrocketed. Now, 1 in 10 Americans take them, four times as many as did in the 1990s. And while millions of people do not suffer violent episodes, the drug makers warn that some people may, and do.

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