Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
I have been asked by some people why I as a chaplain, priest, and military officer, not to mention the fact that I am heterosexual, so strongly support my Gay and Lesbian friends, as well as the LGBTQ community. My answer has to echo the words of Albert Einstein who said “If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.”
Many times the question is crouched in theological terms, and those that ask presume that I am supporting sin, and aiding as some say the “enemies of God.” The problem is, that if being Gay is a sin, then why are not all those concerned about them doing something other than condemning them unto their last breath? Likewise why are the sin hunters who hate LGBTQ people with unmatched passion; who use local, state and when possible attempt to use the Federate government to legislate against equality for LGBTQ people, and who remain dreadfully silent when Gays are attacked and killed, never condemn those that practice what are called the Seven Deadly Sins? If you don’t know them here they are; pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed, and sloth. They infect our society root and branch, and dare I say our hallowed religious institutions, from which so much of the anti-Gay venom spews forth.
I wish I knew the answer to that, but for some reason it seems that religions in general tend to condemn, persecute, and even sanction the killing of Gays, especially Gay men, more than any other institutions. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, there are elements in all these religions who are not content with simply preaching against homosexuality, but wherever they have control of government to persecute and kill LGBTQ people.
Early Sunday morning a man whose personal hatred toward Gay men, and radical Islamic religious based terrorist ideology formed a nexus of evil that allowed him to kill about fifty men and women, while wounding over fifty more. This was certainly a terrorist act, in the words of the man who committed the massacre an act done in the name of his understanding of Islam, and in accordance with the overall goals of the Islamic State.
We will find out if there is a deeper connection between the killer and the Islamic State, but that is not the biggest question here. Why did he strike a Gay nightclub versus any other soft target? There are hundreds if not thousands of soft targets in South Florida, including some which would have just as easy, and symbolic as symbols of America or even Christianity. Why not a sporting event, a non-gay nightclub, a park, a school, or even a church? Well, because here is what many Americans don’t want to admit, he hated Gays, and specifically targeted them on Pride weekend. Those two factors my friends are the key. He could have attacked anything, but he chose to kill mass numbers of Gays and others gathered at the Pulse nightclub.
Sadly he is not alone and has found significant support from anti-Gay Christian leaders like Pastor Steven Anderson and Walid Shoebat who both would prefer Gays to be killed, in fact Anderson’s only issue was the fact that it should have been the government that killed them, not the terrorist. Shoebat said that the only people mourning over the victims of the massacre are “liberals, idiots, and Gay lovers.” I will not repeat rest of their hate filled venom here because it boggles the mind. How such people can even call themselves Christians is beyond me.
Mercifully others who are often at the front in condemning Gays have been relatively silent and mentioned that they will be “praying for the victims and their families.” But such prayers are cheap, unless you actually care about the people you are praying for, and unless you can empathize with them. Sadly, many of these religious leaders and their political allies have no intent of backing down on their work to curtail, limit, or roll back the rights of LGBTQ people, even to the point of criminalizing homosexuality.
But then there are others who are genuinely good people, who have friendships with Gays and even have Gay family members but still refuse to take the necessary step to support the basic human and legal rights of their friends and family members, and who for whatever reason, fear of being ostracized by their church or any number of a myriad of other reasons remain silent when horrible, inhuman crimes take place. But then Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. noted, “Not only will we have to repent for the sins of bad people; but we also will have to repent for the appalling silence of good people.”
All I know is that I will continue to speak out for LGBTQ people, and I will not be silent. I am sure that will lose me some friends, but I cannot stand by and remain silent, it would make me complicit with the man that killed and wounded all of those innocent people, and with the religious leaders that harbor the same views.
That is all for now. Have a good day, and please, even if you do not agree with me on anything else, and please take the time to try to feel a measure of empathy for those killed, those wounded, and those who grieve for them, and if you can take the next step to speak up for them. I promise that you will not regret that decision.