The evangelical Baptist church that massage parlor shooting suspect Robert Aaron Long grew up in released a lengthy statement Friday, claiming his “extreme and wicked” acts were antithetical to church teachings. Long told police that he had a “sexual addiction” and blamed the massage parlors for indulging his temptations. A former member of the Crabapple First Baptist Church told The Daily Beast they were repeatedly taught that pornography and sexual activities were evil.
The church’s statement said its teachings didn’t condone violence against certain ethnicities or women, and didn’t imply that women were responsible for men’s “sexual sin”—however it called Long’s purported sexual desires “perverse.” “He alone is responsible for his evil actions and desires,” it said. “The women that he solicited for sexual acts are not responsible for his perverse sexual desires nor do they bear any blame in these murders. These actions are the result of a sinful heart and depraved mind for which Aaron is completely responsible.” The church will remove him from membership, it said.