Lamentation for those who suffer hate and violence
Crimes of hate that terrorize any of God’s children are abhorrent and intolerable. This time it is against LGBTQ persons and communities. Persons in the LGBTQ community were targeted because of who they are – who God created them to be and to become. We also know that this tragedy deeply affected the Latino community and we hold them all in our prayers. The heartbreak of parents, friends, lovers, congregations and communities is unbearable.
Our lamentation, our grief, our prayers, our vigils must turn into solidarity and action.
We also acknowledge and mourn the complicity of the Church in perpetuating fear and intolerance. The call of the Gospel is to love and to stand against hate. We must work to dismantle the systemic fear, hatred and discrimination that leads to violence against LGBTQ persons and communities. Legislation and policies in many states that uphold a second class of citizens and stoke the flames of homophobia must be struck down.
Muslims cannot be scaped-goated for this atrocious act.
This and other acts of hate and terror cannot be blamed on Muslims. Those who perpetrated this tragedy are not reflective of Islam or of the larger Muslim community. During this holy season of Ramadan, we know that Muslims around the world are peacefully fasting, reflecting and praying in praise and love of God.
Persons, from any culture, who are radicalized must not be allowed to claim the integrity of the world’s great religious traditions.
As persons of faith we must stand with all religious persons and communities who seek peace, compassion, and a brighter future for all.
The Gun Violence Epidemic
This all-too-often reality of mass killings has now occurred in Orlando, Florida at the hands of a hate-filled person who lawfully gained access to assault weapons – weapons with no use on city streets. Gun violence is a global problem with tragedies occurring around the world, but there is a particular shame and burden the United States bears. Individuals in the U.S. and around the world have inconceivably easy access to weapons designed to quickly and systematically kill large numbers of people.
Addressing gun violence must be a priority for our leaders at every level of government. Doing nothing is to be complicit in the continued murder of innocent people.
The United Methodist Church has spoken about the need to prevent gun violence, and Church and Society will continue to bring the words of the Church to the ears of our leaders.
A Need for Action
While it can be easy to become numb to the countless tragedies that seem to grace our televisions daily, we must resist. We can pray and grieve, but then we must act.
We must continue to preach love. We must continue to welcome the stranger. We must continue to open our hearts to the marginalized, vulnerable and oppressed. We must continue to demand policy measures that restrict access to assault weapons. We must continue to fight for inclusion in societies so quick to exclude.
And we must never cease to strive for the example set by Jesus Christ to love our neighbor as ourselves.