Was the Wieambilla Shooting an Act of Christian Terrorism?

20 February 2023

2.8 MINS

Tracy Linford, the Deputy Police Commissioner of Queensland, recently described the fatal shooting of two police officers at a property at Wieambilla as an act of Christian terrorism. Ms Linford said that the bizarre love triangle involving three Train family members operated as an “autonomous cell”, with their actions labelled as being “religiously motivated”.

Significantly, the Deputy Police Commissioner stated in the press conference:

“What we’ve been able to glean from that information is that the Train family members     subscribe to what we would call a broad Christian fundamentalist belief system, known as premillennialism.

Whilst the behaviour was similar in some respect to sovereign citizens, we don’t believe this was connected to a sovereign citizen ideology, we believe it’s connected to the Christian extremist ideology.

There was a belief that Christ will return to the Earth… and provide peace and prosperity.

But it will be preceded by an era, or a period of time of tribulation, widespread destruction and suffering.

They started preparing for the end of days.”

However, believing that Jesus is going to physically return to earth or that we are living in the last days is not “Christian extremist ideology”, but traditional, mainstream belief. And what’s more, there is no denomination anywhere that would condone the use of violence. Instead, one of the chief obligations of a follower of Jesus is to submit to governing authorities as we would submit to God Himself (i.e. Rom. 13:1-5; 1 Pet. 2:13-17).

Correlation Doesn’t Equal Causation

There’s a fundamental principle that should be drilled into all scientific — as well as journalistic — investigation, and that is correlation doesn’t equal causation. Just because someone holds to a certain ideological position in one, doesn’t mean that it directly relates to another.

In the same way, to blame the horrific events which occurred in December last year on a certain interpretation of a book in the Bible is just as irresponsible as claiming that the Queensland Department of Education was responsible for Gareth Train’s murderous actions because he was a former public school principal.

A Christian Leader’s Response

Martyn Iles, the Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, has publicly challenged the Queensland Deputy Police Commissioner to substantiate her claims. Iles wrote on social media:

The most popular eschatology in Evangelical and Pentecostal circles is apparently a motive for terrorism.

It is the first time “Christian ideology” (their words) has been linked to a terror attack.

I call on Deputy Commissioner Linford to point out where in premillennialism there is any authority given whatsoever for a person to use premeditated violence.

She can’t, because there isn’t.

Submission to the state is taught in 3 places in the New Testament letters. Jesus Himself submitted to Pilate’s judgement, acknowledging the man’s authority. He also said, “My kingdom is not of this world, or else My servants would fight.”

Premillennialism affirms the absolute authority of these scriptures.

We’re living in clown world.

In Ancient Rome, the authorities blamed Christianity for the evils of their day because they either hated it, or were totally ignorant concerning it.

I guess history can repeat.

And then later, in a follow-up comment, Iles further wrote:

Premillenialism of the kind described in this instance has been around since 1845 and  globally popular since the 1960s… And yet… Not one single terror event has ever been perpetuated in the name of this belief… until now? Again, clown world.

The Underlying Problem of Biblical Illiteracy

As an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church of Australia, my observation has been that politicians, those holding public office, and especially journalists, are generally illiterate when it comes to the teaching of the Bible. Mind you, this doesn’t stop them from waxing eloquent as to what they think the Bible says, or at least, what they would like it to mean. But, for the most part, when it comes to religion, very few journalists don’t know what the hell (pun intended) they are talking about.

Martyn Iles is right. Not a single terror event has ever been perpetuated in the name of premillennialism. Indeed, if one were to sit down and read what the book of Revelation actually says, you would quickly find that it condemns all forms of violence (e.g. Rev. 9:21; 21:8). In fact, it actually says that people will be specifically judged for crimes such as murder. And this remains true, no matter what interpretation of the “millennium” one takes.


Photo by Lukas.

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  1. Kaylene Emery 20 February 2023 at 8:04 am - Reply

    Thank you for your work Mark.

  2. Jim Twelves 20 February 2023 at 8:54 am - Reply

    Mark, thank you for this, very timely piece. It so neatly fits with the narrative to discredit Christianity, to balance out the real religious terrorists and make out that religion is a terrorist ideology. Thnak you for calling this out.

  3. Warwick Marsh 20 February 2023 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    Brilliant article bro!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Mike Shellabear 20 February 2023 at 4:28 pm - Reply

    I to was disturbed by this unsubstantiated link the media presented. Good on you Martyn and ACL for pursuing the police commissioners claims.

  5. Ian Moncrieff. 20 February 2023 at 10:06 pm - Reply

    Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;

    Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;

    Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

    Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,

    And prudent in their own sight!
    Isaiah 5:20-21 (NKJV)

  6. John Hanna 9 March 2023 at 7:49 am - Reply

    My belief is that it is child abuse to indoctrinate ones offspring in your own belief system. Each child should be allowed to form its own beliefs at a time when they are mature enough to understand what they are accepting. The Trains were in my opinion the victims of their fathers belief which was imposed on them at a young age. People like Isles are if the same ilk, there is nothing quite like being a free thinker unhindered by ancient mythology from a period in time when most were illiterate. Get a life people, no one is coming to save you and when we die we return to the stardust from whence we came.

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