SWAT For Jesus

Charlie Eipper is a member of the SWAT team in Wichita Falls, Texas, but his team is more special than most.  He suffers from the usual rationalizations of the “Warrior Cop“:

Eipper has considered himself a professional warrior in the service of his country for the past 23 years. He served three years as a helicopter pilot in the Army, then 16 years on the Wichita Falls Police Department SWAT team as a sniper and team leader of the gang unit.

But he’s written a self-published book to explain his perspective:

When he killed a man in the line of duty on Jan. 10, 1999, he was confident that Jesus Christ condoned — even supported — his use of deadly force.

He spelled out his convictions — and the Bible’s support for them — in his book “Jesus Christ on Killing,” self-published March 5.

It appears that Eipper was once troubled, given his line of work, that the killing of another human being violated his devoted belief in Jesus Christ, having been taught that his God was peaceful. But after studying the scriptures and watching the “twisted” movie, Rambo IV, he had an epiphany.

Today’s culture embraces Christ as the suffering servant, the lamb of God, he said. “We have trouble viewing him as king, as the one who is coming back as the Lion of Judah, a warrior,” Eipper said. “My last chapter is Jesus, the Man of War.”

“When Jesus comes back, he will be the man of war. When he comes back, there will be a whole lot of killing going on. Scripture says that (Jesus) is going to be the one doing it.”

And so Eipper was moved to correct the misperception that might cause a religious law enforcement officer to hesitate to kill, under the misguided belief that the Fifth Commandment might frown upon it.

After three years of intense study for the writing of his book, he is articulate on the subject of Jesus Christ and killing and eager to share it with other military and law enforcement colleagues and Christians.

Shoot in the name of Jesus, the Warrior King.  Oh boy.

One might quickly point out that Jesus didn’t put that shield on his chest or sniper rifle in his hands, but religion has a miraculous way of explaining anything you want. After all, wasn’t it Jesus who led him down the path to law enforcement?  Didn’t Jesus give man the ability to invent the rifle and put it into the hands of SWAT team members?  Doesn’t that make them tools of the Lord?

Lest anyone be offended, this has nothing to do with religion. Eipper (and anyone else) can believe whatever they want to believe.  God bless ’em.  But the authority Eipper has to shoot his sniper file into the body of a human being, as he did when he killed a man in 1999, comes from the law and the use of force rules of his department, for better or worse.

The confusion wrought by conflating one’s religious belief with one’s law enforcement duty may be one of the most deeply disturbing violations of church and state possible.  It’s not that a cop believes, but that a cop pulls the trigger because of this belief.

Why did you decide to shoot?

Because my God wanted me to.  Because my God told me it was right and just.  Because God said shoot the sinner.

It’s unclear whether a problem existed with Christian cops being hesitant to shoot.  If so, this is the first I’ve heard of it.  However, it strikes me as an extremely good thing that a police officer wouldn’t be in too great a rush to pull the trigger and kill another person.  Such reluctance to harm strikes me as a critical constraint on the damage a cop can do, and if devotion to religion gives a cop pause before doing harm, then I’m all for it.

But if a police officer uses deadly force against another person, it damn well better have nothing to do with his God being cool with it. A SWAT team isn’t a crusade against the infidels, another time in history when the Warrior King was used to justify slaughter.  Look how that turned out?

It’s bad enough that Sgt. Eipper considers himself a “professional warrior,” rather than an officer whose duty is to protect and serve.  The job may entail force at times, but the job is not to do harm.  By then wrapping himself in the mantle of prophet of death, killing in the name of his God, he presents a threat that no police department should find tolerable.

No cop gets to kill because his religion says so.  Any cop who takes his orders from Jesus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster has no business wearing a shield or holding a weapon.  The incentives to engage in needless force and violence for SWAT teams are already well-known and documented, but to add the layer of Jesus-told-me-to goes to a place that is intolerable.

If killing a person is inconsistent with one’s religious beliefs, then don’t do it. If not, then do so only when the law allows and circumstances leave you no other choice.  And if you think that’s your God telling you to pull the trigger, you’re unfit for duty.  Drop the weapon and go away.

H/T Mike Paar


9 thoughts on “SWAT For Jesus

  1. Eric L. Mayer

    You had me until you besmirched the Great Noodly One. I’ve always considered myself a warrior for all things complex carbohydrate.

    Pasta be praised!


    1. SHG Post author

      A complex issue deserves a complex carbohydrate. I always thought you had that Pastafarian look about you.

      1. Brett Middleton

        Could be worse. I suspect that a Discordian cop would have no trouble appreciating the chaos that can be generated with a few well-placed shots. Then again, such a cop might have a very hard time charging someone with disorderly conduct. Hail Eris!

  2. William Robelen

    I would not take it as far a the police officer did, but I have had to face the question of violence a christian who serves in the armed forces. I see the answer in Romans 13. The apostle Paul writing under the inspiration of the holy spirit commanded Christians to obey the civil authorities because their position was ordained by God, and they don’t bear the sword in vain. As a soldier of the United States military, I am part of the sword of the government. When I, acting upon and through the lawful orders of my government, visit violence upon another person, my actions are approved of by God. God, who is a God of order, has ordained human government to bring order to the chaos of sinful men. While on earth as Jesus, He expressed his perfect will that all men love each other, but He recognizes that all men are sinful creatures, and He ordains and places human government to keep order of the chaos. With that said, God will hold those who hold these positions of authority accountable for their actions. If anything, our leaders ought to be held to a higher standard, and punished more severely when they abuse that authority.

    1. Mark Reston

      “When I, acting upon and through the lawful orders of my government, visit violence upon another person, my actions are approved of by God. ”

      It’s nice to know those Nazis aren’t in hell.

        1. SHG Post author

          There is nothing to be said to a true believer that changes anything. By definition, it can’t. But it’s here so others can see and realize how the true believer’s mind works.

  3. Konrad

    I’m confused. What’s the source of that “God said shoot the sinner” paragraph? Is that something he said, or what you imagine he might say?

    Don’t go all non-diegetic on us without warning, because that looks like you’re trying to put words in his mouth.

    1. SHG Post author

      That was the imaginary conversation. Sorry if it looked like I was putting words in his mouth. The good news is that only one person didn’t realize what it was.

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