On June 12, 2016, a mass shooting hate crime occurred inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The shooting resulted in a total of 102 casualties including 49 deaths. The massacre was deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in United States history. It was also the deadliest incident of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex people, as well as their allies, in the history of the United States, surpassing the 1973 UpStairs Lounge arson attack. President Obama described the massacre as an “act of hate.”
This massacre didn’t happen in a vacuum. Omar Mateen was fostered by a toxic combination largely rooted in religious absolutism, self-hatred, mental issues, media illiteracy and easy access to semi automatic weapons.
In allegiance with him, by proxy, are people and organizations like:
- The Lone Oak First Baptist “Church” in Paducah, Kentucky, which actually raffles guns, as well as other Baptist “churches.”
- Kim Davis, the county clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky who gained attention in 2015 when she defied a U.S. federal court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying she was acting, “under God’s authority.”
Davis has been married four times to three different men. Davis is the mother of twin sons, who were born five months after her divorce from her first husband. Her third husband is the biological father of the twins who were adopted by her second husband, Joe Davis, who is also her fourth and current husband.
- Senior commander of the Bush created Islamic State, ISIS, Abu Zaid al-Jazrawi, is rumored to have raped a 15-year-old boy, who was subsequently killed for being gay, while al-Jazrawi was not.
- Michigan pastor Matthew Makela was caught sending sexual messages to a man on Grindr. Makela often railed against homosexuality and saying transgender people are “aiding opportunistic sickos in preying upon children and others.”
- In 2006, it was revealed that anti-gay evangelical pastor Ted Haggard was forced to admit he had a sexual relationship with a 20-year-old male volunteer at his church. Haggard was subsequently fired from the Colorado church he had founded in 1984.
- Senator Larry Craig of Idaho was arrested in 2007 for bawdy behavior in an airport restroom, making advances to an undercover police officer. Before that, Craig’s anti-gay voting record had earned him praise from conservative groups. This wasn’t the only time Craig was alleged to have had or sought sexual relationships with men.
Are you seeing pattern?
You can believe in God and still be a tolerant individual.
It is not your responsibility to persecute in the name of God.
You can also believe in God and still be a critical thinker.
Nick Gier, Professor Emeritus at the University of Idaho has noted that Jesus says nothing specific about the sin of homosexuality anywhere in the Gospels. Sodomy as a term for sexual sin began to be commonly used only in the 11th century. Early religious commentators attributed Sodom’s problems with God to many different causes, including idolatry, threats toward strangers and general lack of compassion for the downtrodden. Ezekiel 16:49 advocates that Sodomites “had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.”
Islam, like Judaism and Christianity, is an Abrahamic religion. Jesus is mentioned in the Qur’an as a prophet. The Qur’an provides the basis of Islamic beliefs and law, yet does not provide clear answers to questions surrounding homosexuality. Homosexuality existed in Pre-Islamic, Arab society, not unlike Ancient Greece, and played a vital role in some of the early religions. Nicole Kligerman, in the Macalester Islam Journal, noted that Islamic repression of homosexuals may not have always been prevalent and that Western influences may have created a greater social stigma against homosexuality.
William Shakespeare, in The Merchant of Venice, brilliantly noted that, “the devil can cite scripture for his purpose.” If you believe that a person is going to hell because they identify as LGBTQIA, then that is their business and let God deal with it. An infinite and all-powerful God of love should be able to protect himself and continue to thrive. Whenever religion and violence collaborate, no human being is safe.