Mark Conditt’s Faith & Austin Stone Community Church: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Mark Anthony Conditt

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Austin Stone Community Church is a large church in Austin, Texas, that has recently caught the nation’s eye when news revealed that Austin bombing suspect Mark Conditt once attended the church regularly. Mark Conditt revealed himself to be a conservative in blogs he was assigned years ago for a college class, but a friend said there was no way he still had the same religious beliefs he once held, if he was able to do such heinous acts. Here’s what you need to know about Mark Conditt’s faith, his religious beliefs, and Austin Stone Community Church.


1. A Friend Said Mark Regularly Attended Church in 2013, But Could Not Possibly Still Have the Same Religious Beliefs

Jeremiah Jensen, 24, was also homeschooled in Pflugerville and was close friends with Conditt in 2012 and 2013. He told the Statesman that he would often go to the Conditt’s home for lunch after church on Sundays, and he would attend Bible study with Conditt. He said that Conditt regularly attended Austin Stone Community Church on St. John’s Avenue.

Jensen said that he doubts Conditt was still religious and holding onto his faith in recent times, although it was important to him in the past.

“I know faith was a serious thing for him. I don’t know if he held onto his faith or not. … The kind of anger that he expressed and the kind of hate that he succumbed to — that’s not what he believed in in high school. I don’t know what happened along the way. This wasn’t him.”

Mark Conditt wrote a series of blog posts in 2012 as part of an assignment for a government course he was taking at Austin Community College. On the blog, he described himself as conservative and wrote posts stating that he was opposed to gay marriage because it was “not natural,” opposed to abortion, but he supported the death penalty. He also believed that putting someone on a sex offender list for something they did as an adolescent was wrong. However, each blog post was apparently a response to an assignment or a question, so there’s no good way to know if he truly believed what he wrote or if he was just trying to write for the assignment given. A photo was circulating from MyLife.com which showed he was a registered Democrat, but MyLife.com details can be edited by anyone.


2. Austin Stone Community Church, a Southern Baptist Church, Has More Than 7,000 Attending Five Campuses Each Weekend

The Austin Stone Community Church is regarded as nondenominational by many, but it’s actually still technically considered part of the Southern Baptist Convention. The SBC lists Austin Stone as a member church on its website here, although the details such as church membership are outdated. The church was founded in 2002 as a church plant by Matt Carter and Chris Tomlin. Tomlin is no longer part of Austin Stone; he left in 2008 after being awarded Male Vocalist of the Year in 2006 and 2007.  In 2013, the church was listed as the 28th largest in the Southern Baptist Convention. In 2014, Austin Stone had 7,000 attending each Sunday and it was listed as the 27th largest church in the SBC. Austin Stone has five campuses: one on St. John, one in south Austin, one in west Austin, one downtown, and one in north Austin. The church just chose a new permanent home on the West Austin campus at 916 Capital of Texas Highway. They will use half of the 55,000-square-foot building and lease the rest to help support operating and owning the building.

Austin Stone Community Church doesn’t share any messages that would be considered radical or that might have influenced Mark Conditt’s actions. The church’s website states: “We seek to be a community who gives glory to Christ above all things and welcomes all people to join us in worshipping Him. We want to bless our city, believing that as we seek its peace, we will display the grace, freedom and life that Jesus Christ offers to anyone who believes in Him.” The church focuses on reaching out and helping lower-income neighborhoods. In 2007, they launched For The City, a nonprofit that built a church, nonprofit hub, and community center on 15 acres in the center of St. John’s. The facility hosts a food bank, a foster care agency, and an international missions organization. They helped renovate Reagan High School, launched a support group for teen moms, and offered after-school programs.

The church’s counseling center released the following statement on their website about the bombings, before Conditt was caught: “In the past 2 weeks our beloved city has experienced 5 bombs that have taken 2 lives and injured 5+ others. The locations of the explosions have been in different parts of the city – all residential except for the latest one that went off while in transit at the FedEx facility. Two of the bombs were set in lower-income neighborhoods while the most recent explosion occurred in a middle-class neighborhood in Southwest Austin. There has been speculation as to whether they are coordinated and targeted – a hate crime or something else – but that is still unclear. This leaves residents in a difficult and precarious position. We don’t know what to expect. At this point it seems like a bomb can be placed in any neighborhood in Austin, at any time, leaving no one feeling safe and many experiencing fear and anxiety like never before. No one is immune to this it seems. Personally, with each incident I have found myself having to process new layers of fear. It has caused me to ask questions and imagine scenarios I never would have thought I would be capable of until now. It has led me to ask what can I do?” The website went on to suggest biblical ways to respond, including being watchful and cautious, staying prayerful, staying faithful, and being a light in the darkness by loving the city rather than hiding at home. 


3. Austin Stone Immediately Put a Pastor on Leave After He Was Accused of Covering Up Sexual Abuse at a Different Church Years Earlier

Austin Stone quickly put Larry Cotton, former director of the church’s internship and residency program, on leave after Jules Woodson accused him of covering up a sexual incident at a different church in 1998, the Statesman reported. She was quoted in a blog post as saying that he covered up an incident in 1998 at Parkway Baptist Church in Houston, after she told him that another pastor made her perform oral sex on him. In response, Austin Stone immediately put Cotton on leave and removed him from the website. The church said in a statement: “We grieve for what happened to Jules Woodson. It was wrong and unjust; we cannot overly express our sadness for what this woman experienced in God’s church.” They hired a third-party organization to investigate Cotton in order to remove any potential bias they might have, and Cotton later resigned, saying in a statement that he failed to report sexual abuse and regretted that decision. Andy Savage, the pastor she accused, has also resigned from being pastor of Highpoint Church.


4. In 2013, Mark’s Mom Said He Was Considering Being a Missionary

In February 2013, Mark’s mom Danene Conditt wrote on Facebook that her son was still figuring out what he wanted to do and was considering a possible mission trip. Danene received her education from an Evangelical Lutheran Church of America college called Gustavus Adolphus College, according to her Facebook. But friends said that Mark attended Austin Stone church, not a Lutheran church.

Mark’s sister, Christina Conditt, often wrote about her religious faith on Facebook. She once wrote: “Being a Christian Athlete doesn’t mean praying for your team to win. God doesn’t give an edge to those who pray over those who don’t. Hard work does that! Being a Christian Athlete means Competing for Christ. In a way in which you always give your all for Him win or loss. You thank him for the ability and opportunity to play. It means giving all the Glory to God, no matter the outcome.”


5. The Texas Home School Coalition Said that Mark ‘Walked Away from His Faith’ Years Ago

Tim Lamber, president of the Texas Home School Coalition, addressed questions about Mark Conditt’s faith, USA Today reported. He said the entire homeschooling community was shocked and in disbelief about what happened. He said in a statement: “Raised by both parents in a Christian home, Conditt reportedly walked away from his faith several years ago. Today’s revelations about the Austin bombings provide a stark reminder that we live in a fallen world. Unfortunately, no form of education, public or private, can ensure a tragedy like this will never happen.”

He said the staff was praying for families of the victims and the Conditt family.

Conditt had just been let go from a job with Crux Semiconductor in August, where he had worked since he was 19, for failing to meet expectations, USA Today reported. The official said he was never confrontational, just “quiet, introverted, and reserved.”

Investigators said that when searching Conditt’s home, they found a list of future targets and addresses.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

Moses ( a soldier of Christ )

Soldiers of Christ
by John Dees on June 3, 2015 | Topic: Evangelism
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We must not forget that part of our identity in Christ is that of a soldier. That means we are engaged in spiritual warfare and we must go out into the battle and be on the offensive by doing evangelism and preaching the Gospel to those who are lost. Paul told Timothy, “share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” – 2 Timothy 2:3
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2 Timothy 2:3-4: “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”

Richard

A sad case. Mark was undoubtedly converted to the dark side. Going to church doesn’t make one a Christian. I always believed in God from at least age 3 and was irritated when Baptist friends would ask me in grade school or high school if I had been born again, but it was not until I was in my 30’s than I knew what that meant, experiencing what the 120 did in the upper room in Acts 2. My life has never been the same since. I have a sister who lives in the Austin area and I wrote her yesterday, Tuesday, and commented that I was praying for her and that I had just prayed that God would help them stop the bomber from killing anyone else. I was surprised how quickly that happened but I have learned that when we pray according to God’s will amazing things can happen, and I believe it was in the 1946 best seller, GOD CALLING that reported several hundred things Jesus told a woman in the UK when she daily prayed with her friend, that “When you see how wonderfully, your prayers have been answered, you will regret, deeply regret that you did not pray more.” I can’t
say I’ve always prayed when I should have, but I have seen amazing things happen in my life and in the world when I have asked God to work His will in whatever I perceived needed His help.

All we need to do is look at how often Jesus prayed to see how important it is. Good works are important but prayer is far more important so you know what works to be doing. I’m praying for Mark’s family now and the families of those affected. May this tragedy bring them all closer to the One God who loves us all, and may we be moved to pray for our nation that is in far worse shape than many realize, with a TOTAL DEBT now equal to over $1,101,368. per taxpayer! That is a total of just over 133 TRILLION Dollars, not just the $21 Trillion National Debt. God revealed in 1989 that something worse than the Great Depression was coming and I am convinced that all Christians should be praying for guidance and direction because it is only a few years off. No one will be unaffected. I hope this recent tragedy brings together all the Christians in not just Austin but in all of Texas and the whole United States because God’s will is needed more in our nation than at any time in our history. Not even the president can stop the financial disaster that is coming upon the world but prayers that God will work His will in the president’s life and the decisions he must make may make it possible to forestall it a few more years. ALL Christians will be praying then! May God bless all who read this.

Anonlolz

Simple non-religious socializing would have helped this kid a lot more. This home-schooling nonsense needs to end ASAP. The problem with religion is that it reinforces a belief, rather then proper rational understanding. Belief is what makes you rest your head comfortably at night….believing that cutting someone’s head off because they have a different opinion is the correct course of action. Using a bomb instead of a knife is no different. Without understanding you are nowhere and nothing. The middle-east of the last 60-ish years is THE perfect example. Yes, the murderous villainy of Israel is included in the list.

Dan DeLuca

He didn’t want to socialize. The religious socializing he did engage in was back in 2013, and that seemed to keep him from going astray. The problem with people like you, who try to convince people to abandon the faith, on faulty reasoning nonetheless, is that people who you successfully destroy the faith that they have, like the Sutherland shooter, tend to be the most vitriolic members of our society.

When you bring up the Middle East religion, you are simply painting with a broad brush.

Dan DeLuca

You have a belief in “proper rational understanding”, but how can you define “proper” in this context, without employing circular logic? It is a belief system nonetheless. You have a horribly flawed definition of “belief”. A belief system may or may not include cutting off another person’s head. Is it not reasonable to conclude that a “proper” belief system will look disparagingly at the notion of cutting off someone else’s head, simply because they hold a different opinion?

Home-schooling has a far better track record than public schooling, when it comes to mass shootings! Perhaps it is the public-schooling nonsense that needs to end ASAP.

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