Larry Swearingen: Another Murderer Pretending to be a Christian

Yesterday, another murderer was given the death penalty. Larry Swearingen, age 48, was acquitted for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of 19-year-old Melissa Trotter. The murder actually happened over twenty years ago, in 1998, when Melissa disappeared after leaving her dormitory.

After nearly twenty years of trials and jail time, Larry was finally given the death penalty and was injected with a lethal solution of pentobarbital. A few minutes later, he was dead.

What made this interesting, however, was that his last words were, “Lord, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” Larry reiterates the words of Jesus before his death by crucifixion (Luke 23:34).

So, was Larry innocent? Well, according to every single person around him, he wasn’t. Many of his neighbors and friends agreed that he was guilty of murder. Swearingen had a massive amount of evidence against him and even tried to get fellow inmates to confess to his crime.

Larry was a murderer. Of this, I have no doubt. There is far too much evidence against him for me to believe otherwise. However, his last words intrigued me. Why would a man, having knowingly committed a heinous crime, restate the last words of Jesus? Once again, this is another case of the John Earnest crime- a psychopath murderer that is self-deceived into believing they are a believer. Even though someone claims Belief, we are to test the spirits, as commanded in 1 John 4:1-6. So, even if your best friend claims Christianity, test the spirits and find if he speaks true. Even those that say “I love Jesus!” may be fake.

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Delusions About God’s Glory

On April 27th, 2019, a man most have identified as John Earnest, entered a Jewish Synagogue and began firing an AR-15, killing one and wounding three. This teenager, John Earnest, while not being completely identified as the murderer, has been identified as the most likely perpetrator. He was nineteen at the time, and appeared to have no remorse at his actions. But, this is what’s crazy:

“Before he allegedly walked into a synagogue in Poway, Calif., and opened fire, John Earnest appears to have written a seven-page letter spelling out his core beliefs: that Jewish people, guilty in his view of faults ranging from killing Jesus to controlling the media, deserved to die. That his intention to kill Jews would glorify God.” (Zauzmer 2019)

John claimed to be a Christian. In fact, he didn’t just claim belief; he truly believed he was a Christian. And yet, for good reason, I don’t believe that John was a Christian. A belief that one is a Christian does not make you a Christian. We still have to allow Christ into our lives, giving Him room to work His holy will.

Sadly, a man can be so delusional that he believes God will be glorified through the death of Jews. In fact, a man can be so delusional that he, a psychopath murderer, will believe that he can both murder and glorify God. These two factors don’t add up. A man cannot have true belief in God, and yet go and attempt to kill people that are doing their best to serve God. No Christian, even one that believes he is one, would commit such a heinous act.

My point is this: even the most delusional, psychotic man can believe he’s a Christian. Self-deceit can run so deep, we never even give it a second glance. When encountered with these situations, the best thing we can do is pray, both for removal of self-deceit from our lives, and for God to work his will in our hearts and minds. Also, we need to disprove the theories abounding on the internet about Christian murders. John Earnest, if he did commit this terrible crime, was not a Christian. Despite this, we need to prove that we, as Christians, are not remotely like him. We should not allow the people angry over this tragedy to become angrier. Give grace and love, especially to the Jews. They have suffered as much as we have.



Works Cited

Zauzmer, Julie. “The alleged synagogue shooter was a churchgoer who talked Christian theology, raising tough questions for evangelical pastors.” The Washington Post, May 1 2019,