Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado, gave his testimony before a subcommittee on crime on May 27, 1999. Mr. Scott’s testimony was so powerful that a lot of folks who received an email about it doubted its authenticity. This is not a rumor and the transcript follows below.
One email said of Scott, “God sent this man as a voice crying in the wilderness . . . “
May 27, 1999
Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
At this very moment in a cemetery in Southern Denver - Chapel Hill Cemetery - they're erecting 13 crosses that I think are well known across the country, as a permanent memorial at the head of my daughter's grave. And my heart really longs to be there with my children, Bethany and her husband Don, Dana, Craig, and Mike, but it's with their blessing that I'm here today, and I appreciate that.
I realize that I'm a mere pawn in today's hearings, but I'm a willing pawn, because I dare to believe that I can make a difference. Every once in awhile, a pawn has been used to checkmate a king. I have no hidden agenda, and of course I have no political aspirations. I simply speak to you as a brokenhearted father, and I only ask that you allow your heart to hear me for the next few minutes.
Since the dawn of creation, there has been both good and evil in the hearts of men and women, and we all contain those seeds: We contain the seeds of kindness and we contain the seeds of violence. And the death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joyce Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher, and the other 11 children who died, must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers.
The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used, neither was it the NCA - the National Club Association - the true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in his heart. In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA, I am not a hunter, I do not even own a gun, I'm not here to represent or to defend the NRA, because I don't believe they are responsible for my daughter's death, therefore I don't believe they need to be defended by me. If I believed that they had anything to do with Rachel's murder, I would be their strongest opponent. I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy; it was a spiritual event which should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies. Much of that blame lies here in this room - much of that blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves.
I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expressed my feelings best and it was written before I knew that I would be speaking here today, and I'd like to read that:
Your laws ignore our deepest needs.
Your words are empty air.
You’ve stripped away our heritage.
You’ve outlawed simple prayer.
Now gunshots fill our classrooms
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere
And ask the question, “Why?”
You regulate restrictive laws
Through legislative creed.
And yet you fail to understand
That God is what we need.
Men and women are three part beings: we have a body, and we have a soul, and we have a spirit ... And I believe we fail to recognize that third element, that really does need to be recognized by the legislative bodies of this country, that's been ignored for so long. Spiritual influences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation's history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries, and we know this is a historic fact. What has happened to us as a nation? We've refused to honor God, and in doing so we opened the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine's tragedy occurs, politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that continue to erode away our personal and private liberties.
We don't need more restrictive laws. Erik and Dylan would not have been stopped by more gun laws or metal detectors. No amount of laws can stop someone who spends months of planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts. Political posturing and restrictive legislation are not the answers. The young people of our nation hold the key, and there is a spiritual awakening that is taking place that will not be squelched. We don't need more religion, we don't need more gaudy television evangelists spewing out verbal religious garbage, we do not need more million dollar church buildings built while people's basic needs are being ignored. We do need a change of heart and a humble acknowledgement that this nation was founded on the principle of simple trust in God.
When my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes, he didn't hesitate to pray in school, and I defy any law or politician to deny him that right. I challenge every young person in America and around the world to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School, prayer was brought back to our schools. Don't let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your conscience and denies your God-given right to communicate with Him.
And to those of you who would blame the NRA, I give to you a sincere challenge: dare to examine your own heart before you cast the first stone. My daughter's death will not be in vain: the young people of this country will not allow that to happen. And remember that even a pawn in a master's hand can accomplish much.
Thank you very much.
This story does not end, nor did it begin with Mr. Scott's testimony before Congress. Shortly after the death of his daughter Darrell founded Rachel's Challenge, which as of the date of this post has reached over 18 million viewers.
The website claims that more than 160,000 students skip school every day due to fear of being bullied. The site offers supports to parents as well as students.
According to a report by WFAA-TV (Ft. Worth, TX) reported by Chris Flanagan:
So, far more than 100 schools have accepted Rachel's Challenge. Dozens more are jumping on board in what has proved to be a life-changing program for many students and educators.
Darrell Scott beamed when he talked about his daughter, Rachel. Rachel was the first person killed in the Columbine High School shooting massacre in Colorado 11 years ago. But, it's Rachel's life, not her death, that gives Scott inspiration.
"The heart is more important than the head," he said. "... If we can reach the heart of the students, they will give us their head; they will give us their hands, and we've seen that in the past 11 years."
Scott and his wife, Sandy, started Rachel's Challenge shortly after their daughter's death. It's a movement inspiring students worldwide through the encouragement of spreading a message of hope.
That message was delivered in Southlake to a roomful of 85 school administrators from all across North Texas. All will bring Rachel's Challenge back to their districts, including Jeanie Gilbert, an assistant principal at Norwood Elementary School in Burleson.
"It is incredibly awesome that they thought enough of us to want us to come out here, that they are aware that this is a problem in our district, that they are very actively seeking a way to address that with our students," she said.
Schools worldwide, including 100 in North Texas this year alone, have accepted Rachel's Challenge.
"If you look at the map of Texas on our United States map, it's completely covered with pins," Scott said. "We're going to run out of spots to stick the pins. That's a good problem."
To learn more about Rachel's Challenge, visit their website at:
Columbine Memorial Gardens at Chapel Hill Cemetery,