Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Pastor Bo Wagner Wants to “Unperson” People

bo wagner

In George Orwell’s book “1984,” the government could make people become “unpersons.” An unperson was not only eliminated, all traces that they had ever existed were utterly erased. And while I am certainly not hoping for such a dystopian society, that one particular part of it could be used very effectively as a deterrent to mass shooters.

What I propose is “The Unperson Act.” When a person commits a mass murder, whether they are killed or arrested, they immediately need to “be erased.” It must be illegal to show so much as a single picture of them. They must be referred to as “Alleged Shooter Number whatever,” and if they are guilty, they must forever be referred to as “Unperson Number whatever.”

Their birth certificates should all be destroyed, as well as their death certificates. If they are alive and arrested, they should be placed on death row and executed on an undisclosed day no more than one year from the time of the shooting. During that year, they should be placed in complete solitary confinement, no outside visitors whatsoever and no contact with or information from the outside world at all. During that last year, all of the prison staff should refer to them only by their Unperson Number.

Facial recognition technology, and whatever other algorithms or actual people are needed, should constantly scrub the internet of any traces of their existence. When they are buried, it should be in an undisclosed location in an unmarked grave.

Would this possibly be hard on the family? Of course. But that very fact as well should serve as a deterrent. And the lives of potential victims must be placed above the hurt of the murderer’s family, as hard as that is. As a side note, I would recommend a constitutional amendment that this can never be used against anyone but mass murderers, thus allaying fears that it could eventually be used against Christians, political foes, etc. [I’m far more worried about what the Bo Wagners of the world might do to those they disagree with than I am mass murderers. What’s next? Using Bo’s “unperson” law to execute and “unperson” abortion doctors?]

— Bo Wagner, Times Free Press, Pastor Bo: It’s time to ‘unperson’ mass shooters, August 16, 2019

Wagner is the pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Shelby, North Carolina.

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36 Comments

  1. Dale

    Does he know Orwell was a Democratic Socialist with anarchist leanings, which, as we all know, is forbidden in the Bahbul?

    Reply
  2. Carol Dworkowski

    Professing to be a Christian does not make one a Christ-ian, i.e a more Christ-like person. Please do not designate people who have little or no resemblance to Jesus as “Christian.”

    I consider myself to be “christian” because the theological foundation of my faith is the Trinitarian and Christological Mysteries, understood mythologically, not literally. However, my spiritual practice is polydox, not orthodox. I find the practice of Eastern Christian and Buddhist spiritually leads me to a more Christ-like practice than traditional Latin/Western spiritual practice. I have found many Hindu spiritual practices to be helpful also–Gandhi was no spiritual slouch!

    Reformed Evangelicalism, especially the American version, is highly heterodox.

    Evangelical Christianity, as everyone knows, is founded upon hate, as the Christianity of Christ was founded upon love. –H. L. Mencken

    Being a Methodist, a Catholic, or a Baptist does not make one a disciple, it only makes him a Methodist, a Catholic, or a Baptist, who may or may not be a daily follower of Jesus Christ. –Michael Phillips

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      If so one claims to be a Christian, I name them as such. Don’t like the crazy uncles in your family? Not my problem.

      Reply
  3. ObstacleChick

    Because banning assault weapons isn’t the sensible answer, but making someone an “unperson” is.

    Carol, I find that if you ask 50 different people about what constitutes a Christian you get 50 different answers. Who is right?

    Reply
    1. Carol

      The word “Christianity” is already a misunderstanding – in reality there has been only one Christian, and he died on the Cross. –Friedrich Nietzsche

      Reply
  4. Carol

    It is impossible to tell if a professing christian of the “crazy uncle” variety is a “false professor” or an immature christian suffering from a lack of sound theological/spiritual formation. I usually identify myself as a “person of faith” outside of the ecclesiastical subculture because the Christian Right (which is neither) has so badly trashed the christian brand.

    However, when someone says “christians”, rather than “a christian” or “some christians” has said or done something incredibly ignorant or mean-spirited, I feel compelled to object, just as I do if someone says, “All Mexicans are rapists” or “All Muslims are terrorists” or “All men are misogynists.”

    In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centering on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe , where it became a culture. And, finally, it moved to America where it became an enterprise. –Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the United States Senate

    “The institutions of Churchianity are not Christianity. An institution is a good thing if it is second; immediately an institution recognizes itself it becomes the dominating factor.”
    — Oswald Chambers

    Reply
    1. Michael Mock

      “However, when someone says ‘christians’, rather than ‘a christian’ or ‘some christians’ has said or done something incredibly ignorant or mean-spirited, I feel compelled to object, just as I do if someone says, ‘All Mexicans are rapists’ or ‘All Muslims are terrorists’ or ‘All men are misogynists.'”

      I am… not entirely unsympathetic to your argument here, but there’s a piece of context you may be missing: “Christians say the darnedest things” is the name of this overall collection of posts, but the individual articles are all specifically named with the (self-proclaimed) Christian speaking and the particular claim that they are making. To my mind, that puts it rather less in the category of “All Mexicans are rapists” and into something more akin to a collection of “Florida Man {{does something ridiculous}}” headlines.

      I also find your assertions about the nature of Christianity and the early church to be highly dubious, but to be honest I really don’t have the energy to spec out the details on that front.

      Reply
  5. Brunetto Latini

    You can spit in the wind and redefine Christian all you want, but it doesn’t change anything. There are self-proclaimed gay Christians, Christian Buddhists, esoteric Christians (aka, Gnostics), etc. But people who take religion seriously consider them religious dilettantes. As do I, taking my unbelief and apostasy at face value, as they should be taken.

    Reply
  6. GeoffT

    I agree that mass murderers shouldn’t be given publicity and, indeed, that is something that the New Zealand PM actually did after the Christchurch shootings, in refusing to name the shooter. More than that, however, is just ridiculous, simply being meaningless gestures. As for execution within a year then, ignoring the rights and wrongs of capital punishment (it is fundamentally wrong, but that’s another discussion), everyone is entitled to due process, and it’s due process that brings the delays.

    Reply
  7. Brunetto Latini

    I don’t see capital punishment as fundamentally wrong. I see it as a necessity of civilization. Opposition to it seems to be one of those viewpoints you’re automatically expected to possess if you aren’t a religious fundamentalist.

    Reply
    1. Carolk

      I see capital punishment as fundamentally wrong and always have. It is NOT a necessity of civilization. at. all. It is cruel and inhumane. It is unfairly applied, with people of color much, much more likely to receive the death penalty that are white people for the same crimes. There have been many instances of people wrongly convicted and if such a person has been executed, then there’s no way to really correct the wrongful conviction. A posthumous exoneration does the person no good although it may ease the family’s pain a bit. For example, George Stinney was a 14 year old black boy who was executed by the state of South Carolina in 1944 after being convicted by an all white jury of murdering two white girls. He was so short that he had to sit on a bible to that his head reached the cap of the electric chair. Seventy years later, his conviction was vacated (overturned) by circuit court judge Carmen Mullen on the basis of Stinney not getting a fair trial, his confession had been coerced, and that executing a child was cruel and unusual punishment. Her overturning the sentence was 70 years too late for George, though. A warden from San Quentin wrote a book a number of years ago Capital Punishment: The Inevitability of Caprice and Mistake. It’s still in print and is well worth a read. Lastly, capital punishment DOES NOT deter crime. It’s about vengeance.

      Reply
  8. Brunetto Latini

    I don’t see that quoting myriad opinions on the definition of Christian is helpful to defining the term. All that matters is what the source material (the New Testament) says and how historical councils have interpreted it, setting down rules of orthodoxy. On those points, evangelicals and fundamentalists are entirely reasonable and logical.

    I suppose I’m an unbelieving fundamentalist. I’m owning that label, because I’ve been called it before by people who never believed and by liberal Christians I’ve encountered.

    Reply
    1. Carol

      There are no labels that can exhaustively describe the mystery of the person. Perhaps we should forget the labels altogether and just get to know one another without the categorizing.

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        That is certainly a worthy goal. While labels can be, at times, helpful, I’ve found they also hinder thoughtful interaction with people who have differing views from my own.

        Reply
  9. Brunetto Latini

    I’m OK with the state taking vengeance on murderers. I think the state is obligated to do so.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Why?

      Reply
  10. Brunetto Latini

    Carol, if you don’t defend the Christian label, I won’t attack your misconception of it. Does that work? I’m not so much of a curmudgeon when not discussing religion or politics.

    Reply
    1. Carol Dworkowski

      Works for me. Conventional Latin/Western Christianity is not worth defending, IMO.

      The Institutional Church (ecclesia) has killed only two kinds of people: Those who do not believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, and those who do. — Will Durant

      Reply
  11. Brunetto Latini

    To promote the general welfare of its citizens.

    Reply
    1. Carolk

      Capital punishment does NOTHING to promote the general welfare of the citizenry. NOTHING!

      Reply
    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Would not life in prison accomplish the same goal? The problems with the death penalty are many, including innocent people being executed. I find it impossible to square the teachings of Jesus with vengeful state execution of criminals.

      Reply
      1. Brunetto Latini

        Why should the state be required to fund life in prison? And how does government waste of tax dollars promote the general welfare? There aren’t endless resources in the world to provide permanent, free housing and food for murderers.

        Reply
        1. CarolK

          It costs the state and federal governments far more money to execute a person than to imprison them for life.

          Reply
      2. Brunetto Latini

        Besides that, I don’t know if the teachings of Jesus are the best place to be seeking arguments against capital punishment, unless lifetime incarceration includes physical torment. Jesus frequently referenced torment in hell. Execution in the physical realm and annihilation in the spiritual realm seems much more merciful.

        Reply
        1. Carol Dworkowski

          Many of Jesus’ teaching are metaphorical, analogous or mythological. Biblical literalists interpreted Jesus’ teachings from a simplistic perspective. Although the laity is still being taught 16th through 19th century theological and spiritual norms, most contemporary theologians now believe and teach that “heaven” and “hell” and “purgatory” are spiritual states representing degrees of union and/or separation from God rather than actual places.

          This makes sense since there is only time and place in our temporal space/time continuum. Eternity transcends the space/time continuum. Contemporary theology is also more relational than ontological. The Law of Love transcends and surpassingly fulfills all other laws.

          Reply
    3. Astreja

      But, Brunetto, that welfare is egregiously violated every time an innocent citizen is falsely accused, wrongly convicted and then executed. Even one person executed for a crime they did not commit is sufficient justification for a permanent worldwide ban on capital punishment.

      Reply
  12. Brunetto Latini

    Astreja, I disagree. The world isn’t perfect. That’s no reason to abandon things that work as intended in most cases. We have a criminal justice system that is intended to prevent innocent people being punished.

    Reply
    1. Karen the rock whisperer

      In this particular case it it, because the stakes are so high. What has higher value than human life, at least to the human whose life is in question? The US justice system is so badly broken that we cannot in good conscience execute anyone. The chances of an incorrect conviction are just too high.

      Now, if we can fix the justice system so that it does indeed work in most cases, we can revisit the philosophical argument about the value of the death penalty. That’s not gonna happen in my lifetime.

      Reply
      1. Carol Dworkowski

        We have a retributive justice system that makes rehabilitation highly unlikely even in less serious criminal offenders than murderers. There is a movement among both secular humanists and religious progressives to base our legal system on restorative justice:

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/molly-rowan-leach/restorative-justice-is-on_b_3612022.html

        http://www.abundantcommunity.com/home/stories/parms/1/story/20120726_building_a_healthy_and_just_community.html

        Reply
        1. Karen the rock whisperer

          Thanks for the links.

          Reply
    2. Carolk

      Not in the US, we don’t. At least, it doesn’t work that way. People of color are imprisoned at a far higher rate than are white people and not because they commit more crimes. They are often poor and must rely on public defenders for their defense. Some public defenders do a good job, but there are many more that are simply awful. Over the last thirty or forty years, the Supreme Court has handed down a number of decisions that impede the right to appeal. Innocent people get convicted all the time, particularly people of color.

      Some years ago (2007, in fact) , the South Carolina State Treasurer, Thomas Ravel, was arrested for cocaine trafficking. He could have been sentenced to almost 20 years in federal prison if he’d been a poor black guy, but instead he was a rich white guy from an influential family so he got 10 months in federal lockup and didn’t have to report to prison immediately. That would not have occurred if he were poor and black and maybe not even if he were a poor white guy.

      As the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, jr said in his Letter from Birmingham Jail
      “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.

      Reply
    3. Astreja

      Killing people solves nothing, Brunetto. Nothing at all. It is vindictiveness, not justice. I believe that life imprisonment is a more than adequate punishment for murder.

      The fact that many innocent people -have- been executed is a clear indication that the criminal justice system does not have sufficient safeguards.

      Reply
  13. Brian Vanderlip

    In George Orwell’s book “1984,” the government could make people become “unpersons.” -Bo Wagner.
    I wonder if Bo actually read Orwell’s book or if his Christianite virus just informed him of the useful term in some chance way. Christians believe they are fallen Humpty-Dumptys who can only be made whole again through blood sacrifice and by giving their life to Gawd. If one accepts the ‘fallen nature’, one sets loose a foundational self-harm that religionites feed on. Pass the offering plate and let us prey…
    Bo wants to harm others because Jesus changed him and made him a man of ‘love’? Naw, I’d bet Bo was an asshole long before he adopted Christianity. Carol wants us to reserve the term ‘Christian’ but as Bruce Almighty often shares, there are just about as many versions of believers as there are believers.
    In the years of my belief, I came more and more to appreciate some words of Christ quite separate and removed from doctrinal attachment. I no longer needed Magic Jesus. It felt better and better as this process continued and I could finally drop belief itself.

    Reply
  14. Brunetto Latini

    Carol, sorry. Not buying the mythological, allegorical argument. Jesus was talking to simple people in 1st century Palestine. Hell means hell. Fire may be a figure, but it is a figure of torment. Here again is a case where evangelicals and fundamentalists are more reasonable and logical than hocus-pocus peddling liberals. I don’t believe the Bible, but I still have more respect for religious groups that claim to believe it and take it seriously than those who claim to believe parts of it and dismiss what’s inconvenient.

    Reply
    1. Scott

      Sorry Brunetto, the policies to execute people using the power of the government or in this case make people “un-people” lead to totalitarian states. Killing rarely solves problems. History and the modern world are replete with those. That power tends to expand until it destroys the vary society they were started to protect. We do need prison reform. We can start by eliminating commercial prisons, bad laws like the “3 strikes” ones, imprisoning people for minor drug possession crimes. Then we can start on other issues. These are common sense changes that can move us away from fascism and totalitarianism.

      Reply
  15. Carol Dworkowski

    Linear logic is not more reasonable when your presuppositions are not correct:

    The problem with fundamentalists insisting on a literal interpretation of the Bible is that the meaning of words change. A prime example is ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child.’ A rod was a stick used by shepherds to guide their sheep to go in the desired direction. Shepherds did not use it to beat their sheep. The proper translation of the saying is ‘Give your child guidance, or they will go astray.’ It does not mean ‘Beat the shit out of your child or he will become rotten’ as many fundamentalist parents seem to believe. ~Author Unknown

    Reply

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