… there is nothing new under the sun. –Ecclesiastes 1:9
When I heard about 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando dying violently in yet another mass shooting in the U.S., I just knew–just knew–the shooter was going to be an ultra-right-wing, NRA-card-carrying, Christian fringe-fundamentalist who would testify that God had called him (because it’s always a him) to carry out the massacre to alert America to God’s impending wrath over legalized same-sex marriage and gender-neutral bathrooms and call this country to repentance. I just knew.
Learning that the shooter was a man who identified as Muslim and pledged allegiance to ISIS has frustrated and exhausted me. I think of all the good will that was built towards Muslim communities last week as the world mourned Muhammad Ali, the outpouring of love and peace, a feeling as I listened to the memorial service that things would be different now.
And yet, this isn’t anything new. It just looks different.
Almost one year ago, we were mourning 9 black worshipers massacred in a church in Charleston, SC. This week, we can’t believe 50 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, who were just dancing, having a good time, and probably feeling as safe as the people in Charleston did, died the same way and by remarkably similar hands. The cruelty of meeting death as your eyes close for prayer. The irony of a stranger snatching your last breath and heartbeat away in a place where you thought you could breathe, a place called The Pulse. Both shooters were bigots who swore allegiance to hate groups and let their hate be known, who were so insecure about something within their own identity that they were threatened by the very existence of people different from them.
If you think this was God’s punishment for people in the LGBTQ community being who they are, you’re wrong. If you think the massacre in Orlando was an act of terrorism but in Charleston–and at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs last year–it wasn’t, you’re wrong. If you think any type of hate, bigotry, -ism, -phobia, anti-, etc. sentiment is tolerable as long as it doesn’t eventually lead to some type of violent action, you’re waiting for the inevitable.
Let’s stop waiting. Let’s start correcting bad theology and hateful ideology. And if we can’t change hearts immediately, can we at least make it more difficult for people who want to kill lots of people to carry out their plans?