WASHINGTON – In the chaos ensuing after the nation’s deadliest school massacre, there has been an uproar of criticisms, laying blame, and feelings of guilt. Amid all the commotion, evangelical leaders want to tell the parents of the 23-year-old gunman Cho Seung-Hui that they are not blamed for the tragic events that unfolded earlier this week.
"I would like to say that there is a future, there is a hope and they are also loved just as the victims and their families are loved," said Richard Cizik, the National Association of Evangelicals’ vice president for governmental affairs, to The Christian Post. "Our hearts go out to them and we will be praying for them and want to help them in any way we can to get through this."
Since Monday, the parents of the Virginia Tech gunman have been hiding from the public eye and were reportedly hospitalized from shock, according to Korea’s Yonhap news agency. Korean news sources even rumored, though untrue, that Cho’s father tried to commit suicide by slitting his wrist and his mother swallowed toxic drugs.
But Cho’s parents and sister are doing "okay", a South Korean Embassy source told CNN on Thursday.
According to The Associated Press, the chairman of the Korean-American Association of Northern Virginia visited the home of Cho’s paternal uncle Wednesday night. When asked how the gunman’s parents were, the uncle said he "assumes" they are fine.
As the gunman’s parents continue to try to grapple with the aftermath of Monday’s tragic shootings that left more than 33 Virginia Tech students and faculties dead, including their only son, Christian leaders want to assure Cho’s parents that they nor the general public lay blame on them.
"I’m sure that they feel great grief – it must be very hard," said Cizik. "Yet they must know that we harbor no ill will on our part nor do I believe the American public.
"We have all been given free will…we do not blame the parents or sibling," he emphasized.
Cho’s family left South Korea in 1992 seeking a better life in the United States. They had struggled financially in Korea, running a small used-bookstore in Seoul. His parents now work at a dry cleaners in suburban Washington.
“We welcome families such as theirs, which has sought so hard to make a good life here in America and educate their children,” said Cizik, who called on Christians to reach out to immigrants who do not have the connections and help that they need.
Likewise, Barrett Duke, vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, also sympathized with Cho’s parents.
"I imagine that his parents are crushed," said Duke empathetically. "They could not have possibly thought that their son was capable of this kind of violence."
Duke reflected that as a parent himself he is not surprised that Cho’s parents do not want to speak to anyone right now noting that they probably have no answers. He imagined that they are searching their minds to see what they did wrong to cause their son to carry out the massacre.
"They need time to reflect on that and they need time to try to make sense of it the best they can before the world just overwhelms them and bombards them with questions and holds them responsible, unfortunately, for the action of their son," said the Baptist leader.
"I think we need to be careful before we lay blame on anyone else including his parents and they need time to think about this and they need time to sort through themselves," he added.
Cizik concluded that Jesus said "I am making everything new" and the message applies to the victims, their family, the nation, and to the parents of the young man who took the lives on Monday.
"Jesus says ‘I am making everything new’ so they have a hope and a future in this country," said the NAE spokesman.