I sincerely mean that.
When I first heard of his story, I felt horror and revulsion and deep sympathy. I remember praying for him, that he would be saved. It was a horrible crime. I pray in the same way for others, such as the Indian woman who had been gang raped, her murderers now condemned to death. Remember the black man - in Texas, I think - who had been dragged by a truck, and he was decapitated? likewise, I prayed for the dead soldier whose body had been dragged by Somalis. Similarly, I prayed for Christopher Stevens, the ambassador to Libya, brutally murdered in Benghazi. These savage tortures and murders are distressing. Murder is especially heinous when the victim's salvation is so uncertain. I fear the loss of heaven and the pains of Hell, for myself and my brother.
That said, Shepard's murderers were never charged with a hate crime since there was no such statute on the books in Wyoming at the time. Though public opinion clearly perceived it as a hate crime, some people believed there was more to the story. Since the conviction of the two perpetrators, many have speculated that drugs were involved and there may have been more to the story than what was told at trial.
The Book of Matt, by Stephen Jiminez
The new book claims to tell the true story of what happened to Matthew Shepard.
But what really happened to Matthew Shepard?To be honest, I thought everyone believed that now - at least I was convinced there was not enough evidence to prove the murder was a hate crime - since I had heard most of the other reports not too long after the trial and conviction.
He was beaten, tortured, and killed by one or both of the men now serving life sentences. But it turns out, according to Jiminez, that Shepard was a meth dealer himself and he was friends and sex partners with the man who led in his killing. Indeed, his killer may have killed him because Shepard allegedly came into possession of a large amount of methamphetamine and refused to give it up.
The book also shows that Shepard’s killer was on a five-day meth binge at the time of the killing.
As to be expected, Matthew Shepard Inc. is rallying to denounce the new narrative that his homosexuality had little or nothing to do with his murder. - Source
Gay journalist Aaron Hicklin, writing in The Advocate asks, "How do people sold on one version of history react to being told that the facts are slippery --- that thinking of Shepard’s murder as a hate crime does not mean it was a hate crime? And how does it color our understanding of such a crime if the perpetrator and victim not only knew each other but also had sex together, bought drugs from one another, and partied together?” -ibid
The Brietbart article concludes:
The agenda of the sexual left lives on lies. As we all know now, the back-story that brought us Roe v. Wade was a lie. And here we find the Matthew Shepard story was also a lie.
The sexual left approves of such lies because they get to what they consider to be an underlying truth. The author of The Advocate piece writes, “There are valuable reasons for telling certain stories in a certain way at pivotal times, but that doesn’t mean we have to hold on to them once they’ve outlived their usefulness.” -ibid
As I said in the beginning, I was moved to pity by the story - not because of Matthew Shepard's sexual identity, but because a kid was brutally tortured, beaten, and left for dead - he died later, a murder victim. Eternal salvation is so uncertain - God save us from an unprovided death.
Thinking like a Samaritan...
I once did a painting which I titled Matthew Shepard, only to retitle it, Male Figure. Not a few commenters on my art blog expressed disdain for it, as well as the fact I would dare paint him with a halo. It's unfortunate they misunderstood the image, although it demonstrates why I'm not a successful artist - if I can't convey an simple idea understandably - I'm not very good.
My original subject for the painting was St. Sebastian. While painting the piece - which in fact is more or less simply a study, I received news of an art show. The curator of the gallery knew of my work and asked me to show what I had in a group show, which also happened to be the inaugural show of his new gallery. I abandoned work on Sebastian, and decided to call the unfinished piece Matthew Shepard - because he was in the news at the time and the figure's face and hair reminded me of the man - and the figure in its unfinished state,* appeared a little 'scorched'. I left the halo to suggest the goodness of all men, made in the image and likeness of God - I was not 'canonizing' the poor man.
I wanted the figure to be viewed as a human being, tied to a fence, left by the roadside, beaten, stripped by robbers - hoping the viewer might recall the parable of the Good Samaritan. In one sense, the politicization of the murder of Matthew Shepard caused many passers by to look the other way, some even condemning the victim. No one stopped to help him, to nurse him, to save him - rather they exploited him for their own agendas - and continue to do so today. Hence the painting isn't really of Matthew at all, but a roadside casualty of violence: a victim of robbery and exploitation; and worse - in death, a victim of political agenda, as well as fear and anger - culminating in hate.
*I never finished the figure - what the viewer sees is pretty much the under painting. The figure was intended to be clothed in a transparent loin cloth as well.