Mormon Bishop Killed at Church

Mormon Hereticdeath, LDS, Mormon, news, violence 27 Comments

There was very sad news from Visalia, California on Sunday.  A mentally ill man named Kenneth Ward walked into a church looking for a leader.  Members pointed him to a Bishop Clay Sannar, father of 6.  Ward shot Bishop Sanner, and then fled.  A few minutes later, he called police, confessing to the crime.  As police arrived, he opened fire.  Police killed the assailant.  It is a truly senseless act.  More details can be found at the KSL website.

Please pray for his family.

Comments 27

  1. I read that he was called only 4 months ago. Makes me wonder if the Lord, knowing what would happen, called him because of it and not another. And they reported that the murderer said that a bishop ‘condemned’ him to hell in ’88, well now he knows what that door to hell looks like.

    But still its very sad considering this bishop has six sons and one only months old.

  2. This extremely sad and I feel so bad for the bishopa’s family!

    It does make me wonder… If the shooter believed he was condemned to hell what did he have to loose? All sins can be forgiven (if covered by the blood of Jesus). Sounds like LDS theology may have played a part in this.

  3. Of course we won’t know the full side of the shooter’s story. Did a bishop really condemn him to hell or did a bishop simply call him to repentance over something he’d confessed or had been found out about lest he run the risk of being sent to hell. Sadly he let that fester until he pulled that trigger, committing first-degree murder of an innocent man who may well have never even met in life up to that point.

    This is a terrible incident not only for the family of the bishop, but the family of the shooter as well as anyone who was in the building. How many were present to hear the shot? How many feared for their own lives? How many felt like their sanctuary had been completely defiled? How many now feel that even their chapels are no longer safe? Will this incident prompt a change in church policy over firearms in general? How many future bishops will this affect where they receive the call but turn it down because of what happened here? How many members of that ward felt that they’d be uncomfortable in returning to that building? It goes on and on.

  4. #5 “Sounds like LDS theology may have played a part in this.”

    Joey, say what? How?

    Its as if you are almost blaming the victim here.

    What I said was meant to mean that this man, obviously physiologically disturbed, mistakenly believed that he had been condemned to hell by a bishop almost 3 decades ago but now he goes and kills a totally innocent bishop, and someone who was a teen back in ’88. Because he killed an innocent bishop, this shooter is now probably going to see hell (unless he is totally incompetent).

    I can’t see how LDS theology could have played a part in this. Only madness played a part here.

  5. I don’t know if you guys saw my previous post ‘if the tarry’. since the shooter is mentally ill, I think it is impossible for us to pass judgment on him. I am glad god will judge him. certainly the shooter has caused a great deal of heartache for the bishop’s family and ward.

    this kind of situation causes me to wonder about the family proclamation. ‘a child is entitled to be raised by a father and mother.’ these children lose that entitlement. it is incredibly sad.

  6. #7

    Oh it was even worse in one article’s comments where a single guy in that same thread posted continuously about how the whole thing was the church’s fault because of how the church treats gays. The #5 comment is very tame compared to all the hate-filled nonsense the guy ended up spewing that completely disrespected BOTH dead men in this case.

  7. #7… For sake of clarifying Joey’s point.

    Lets suppose the shooter murdered someone previously. A bishop 30 years ago told him that he was going to hell and his prior sin of murder was unforgivable. If he is assuredly going to hell (according to LDS theology), for an unpardonable sin, why would it matter if he murdered someone else? He in fact had “nothing to loose” by murdering a current bishop. Of course we can’t blame the victim because he had nothing to do with condemning the shooter 30 years ago. However, we can blame the LDS church for a false teaching that some sins are unforgivable (even thru Jesus Christ).

    To take this even further… What if the shooter believed his former sins could only be forgiven by the shedding of his own blood (blood atonement). In his deranged mind he could have thought if he were to shed his own blood by being shot by the police he might have some chance for forgiveness. Again, the LDS church should take some blame for this because of their erroneous anti-Christian teachings.

    The LDS church should (through updated “revelation”) do two things because of this news story:
    1) Abolish the teaching that some sins can not be covered by the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.
    2) Publicly denounce the previous teachings of blood atonement.

  8. Oh good grief. What most likely happened is that some bishop had a hard time dealing with some mentally disturbed man and said or did something to try to encourage this man not to disturb him or others, and the mentally ill person took it as “shunning” or “condemnation”. Unless somebody has specific information to the contrary, I doubt seriously this has anything to do with Mormon doctrine. It could have happened to the Catholic priest or the Protestant pastor just as easily. To suggest that Mormon doctrine in any way led to this murder in the absence of any real evidence is simply ridiculous.

  9. the over-riding problem is this man’s mental illness. people who try to take pot shots at the church over points of doctrine only make themselves look like selfish opportunists. ephesians should be ashamed for using a tragedy for political purposes. please refrain from trying to assign blame. attempting to generate controversy over a good man’s death is appalling.

    please pray for the family, or donate to the website martin referenced above.

  10. #10

    I agree with you, but only about denouncing blood atonement because I’ve yet to find any scriptural basis. Unfortunately the doctrine of first-degree murder being unforgivable in this life is laid out in nearly all of the standard works. Yes, they are consigned to hell but the doctrine also teaches us that they will eventually be forgiven and still receive a degree of glory. The key thing is they must suffer for their own sin of murder because we do NOT have the authority to decide which of God’s children should have their precious reward of life taken away after they kept their first estate. That’s exactly why the situation is as sad as it is for both the victim and the shooter.

  11. This is an absolute tragedy. My heart goes out to the family and friends of Bishop Sannar. No-matter what motivated Mr. Ward to commit this heinous act, no mentally healthy individual would use LDS doctrine to justify murder of an innocent man. That’s the problem, he wasn’t sane and therefore common reasoning didn’t apply.

    I’ve said this before and I think it applies; people’s perceptions become their realities. With the mentally ill, those realities can have disasters consequences. The more sobering question for believing members revolve around why God didn’t protect the Bishop, especially when we hear so many of those faith promoting stories of people being plucked from certain death by a kind of loving God. Mr. Ward could have committed police assisted suicide in a variety of ways that didn’t involve killing a church leader. It would seem that was actually his goal as he called the police himself and then shot at them to ensure they reacted in the correct way. Again, a very sad situation that brings far more questions than answers…

  12. Oh good grief indeed. (See #10.) The LDS Church is not in the least responsible for what that man did, any more than Al Gore and environmentalists are responsible for another nutcase (today) taking “deep ecology” a tad too far and going on a rampage.

    The crazies are always with us, and it’s thoroughly antirational to try and shut the other guy up by trying to blame him for what crazies do.

  13. mh #8 “the family proclamation. ‘a child is entitled to be raised by a father and mother.’ these children lose that entitlement”

    Actually, technically, for the Lord it is the same whether the father is on earth or in the spirit world (D&C58:2 & others). He will still have some influence and will still visit and prompt the kids from beyond the veil. Because the dad isn’t physically there anymore doesn’t mean that the kids are raised alone by the mom. He is there in spirit, in name, in tradition, in priesthood power, and within the context of the sealing power.

  14. Dave #9, Yes. And some (lds) commentators on ksl were pretty bad too accusing the shooter of doing this because of prop8, even though the gay lobby won the last battle.

    Ephesians 6:12 #10,

    I’d say you seriously misunderstood some unique LDS beliefs. Although we do insist that murder in the first degree -and of innocent blood- is beyond the reach of Jesus atonement it doesn’t mean that a murderer wont be or can’t be forgiven. But rather that he, as David, will need to pay themselves for the sin and by the time they do they will run out of time to do what is necessarily to reach the ‘celestial’ body level in the resurrection (taught by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15) but will resurrect with a lower glory. So by repenting and overcome the sin -by paying the price of it- they spend eternity in a kingdom of glory ie Not in hell.

    “In his deranged mind he could have thought if he were to shed his own blood by being shot by the police he might have some chance for forgiveness.”

    If there was any truth to that he would have just pointed a toy gun at a cop and got himself killed. He had other problems there.

    But anyways, this is all far from the real subject matter here which should be about helping the family of this bishop in anyway possible. cheers,

  15. carlos, didn’t you know that they aren’t “commentators?” Rather, they think they’re all mind readers who instantly know the motives behind every incident on the news, even when there isn’t enough evidence to conclude anything beyond, “We don’t know exactly.”

  16. carlos, for the children, the physical presence of a father makes a much bigger impact on their lives than the spiritual presence of a father. it is a well known fact that children raised without a father are more likely to abuse drugs. that doesn’t mean that these children will, but their lives are changed dramatically by this shooter’s action.

    I lost a brother 4 years ago in a traffic accident. he is the father of 4 children aged 3-8. those children, especially the 8 year old endured some trials beyond their ability. yes their father was there spiritually, but his physical presence would have had a more immediate and better outcome than his spiritual presence. it is not equivalent in my book.

  17. mh,

    sure, its not equivalent and a physical presence is better. but back in #8 you were somewhat critical of the proclamation on the family now that the dad is dead, when he is in fact still a dad for the p.o.f purposes and still has some influence in that family as the p.o.f teaches.

  18. Carlos, I’m not trying to be critical of the Family Proclamation, so perhaps you misunderstand my purpose in my statement in #8. I’m just trying to make sense of it. On the one hand our church teaches that children should be raised by a father and mother, yet in situations like this bishop or my brother, God chooses not to intervene. These children should be raised by their fathers, but are not. It’s not like Bishop Sanner or my brother did anything to hasten their own death, and they certainly didn’t choose to divorce their wife to break up the family. God chose not to intervene for purposes known only to God. It just causes me to scratch my head. I have tried to resolve this paradox for 4 years, and it seems unsolvable to me. I’ve never heard anyone give me a satisfactory answer to the conundrum. I welcome attempts to reconcile, but I’m not holding my breath for a nice answer any time soon. I’m getting more comfortable with paradox in my life, but this really bugs me.

  19. MH,

    “yet in situations like this bishop or my brother, God chooses not to intervene. These children should be raised by their fathers, but are not”

    I thought this was rather clear by now: God doesn’t intervene due to the agency He gave us. How could he allow free agency or freedom of choice, if He were to intervene to stop some people becoming murderers? If he did there would never be any murderers nor any sinners nor any crime nor any wars, and hence He would have accepted or should have accepted Lucifer’s plan in that pre-world meeting.

    “they certainly didn’t choose to divorce their wife to break up the family”

    …exactly, so there is today someone responsible for that ‘breakup’ as you call it but like I said before, in the spirit of the sealing, this family isn’t broken but rather the dad is away for a while. Maybe Elder Oaks words are better here [note that Oaks lost his father at age 8] at,5232,23-1-559-8,00.html , Part V specifically

  20. He was not just a random mentally ill killer. He was an anti-Mormon mentally ill killer. Of course the vast majority of anti-Mormons are not violent, but anti-Mormonism did play a role in this murder. Let’s not sugarcoat it.

  21. carlos, a sincere thank you for trying. I remember elder oaks talk very well when he gave it. it did not help me feel better.

    jdd, the man is mentally ill. it is improper to refer to him as anti-mormon. his problem is mental illness. we don’t refer to john hinkley as anti american because he shot pres reagan. both shooters are mentally ill. neither are properly categorized as anti anything.

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