Posts Tagged ‘Orlando’

Magazine article following Orlando Killings and murder of Jo Cox

Saturday, June 18th, 2016

Following the Orlando nightclub shooting, Archbishop Justin said the primacy of love rules over the proscriptions of holy texts. That’s a challenge to all of us who understand that, in some way, God is revealed in the Bible, or the Quran. The primacy of love was experienced by those first emergency workers who entered the Pulse Night Club and heard phone ringtones. The family and friends of victims were ringing their loved ones longing for them to answer when, tragically, 49 of them will never pick up their mobiles again. We rightly condemn physical or verbal violence against gay people, such as the Westboro Baptist Church placards proclaiming, “God hates fags”, and we seek to contextualise and thus reject those parts of the Bible which proscribe the death penalty for homosexual acts. While at the same time, many mainstream Christians remain opposed to equal marriage and disagree with the experience of the gay Orlando politician Patty Sheehan, “by fighting against my rights [for equal marriage], they helped create this climate of terrorism and hatred.”

We now know that Omar Mateen, the man who attacked the gay nightclub, claiming affiliation to ISIS, was himself a regular visitor to the club and attracted by the gay scene. Not only was he driven by a hatred of gay people but also a self-hatred as he internalised the prejudice which he proclaimed. He had an extremely narrow view of God and humankind, and resorted to violence when he and others fell outside of this restrictive view. Our poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy has a very broad view of God. Because we are created in God’ image and some of us are gay, she concludes a poem with the line, “And God is gay”. It could also have been concluded with, “And God is straight/black/white/female/male…”

Another act of prejudicial violence was the killing of Jo Cox; targeted because she was a white woman MP with liberal views. Rather like the Orlando killings, her death comes amid a toxic climate of fear and prejudice, be it the anti-immigration poster launched by UKIP, hours before her death, or the scaremongering predictions of both sides in the referendum debate. Her killer is likely to be attracted by notoriety and violence, but the bitter divisions in our body politic form the background which may have given this “malignant narcissist” some warped self-justification.

St. Paul emphasised our fundamental unity and wrote, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female for all of you are one in Christ Jesus”. He could also have added there is no longer gay or straight, no longer European in or out, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus, and you are all responsible for rebuilding the body politic.