The Orlando Massacre

Monday, June 13, 2016

I wrote and posted this essay to Facebook after the Orlando Massacre on June 12, 2016, when a lone gunman proclaiming allegiance to ISIS murdered 49 people at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

By now we all know that a man proclaiming allegiance to ISIS carried out the Orlando Massacre, the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. ISIS hasn’t taken direct credit but has endorsed it. This must be awkward for some people who feel they have to condemn this attack while secretly approving it. After all, this is what they claim scripture calls for and a few have openly advocated it.

I’m referring to right-wing “Christians,” sometimes self-defined as evangelicals. The term fundamentalist is also sometimes used. Whatever description is preferred, it’s time to talk about their convergence with ISIS. They come from very different perspectives but nonetheless find common ground on the subject of homosexuality.

During the Republican primary campaign Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal spoke at the “Freedom 2015: National Religious Liberties Conference” in Iowa. This gathering has been coined the ‘Kill the Gays’ conference because it was organized by Kevin P. Swanson and his followers. Swanson is a minister and outspoken opponent of the LGBT community. He and his followers openly advocate rounding up all gay people for summary execution — but after a brief delay to first allow gays an opportunity to repent. I’m not sure how long a grace period they have in mind.

Swanson closed the Iowa conference saying,

YES! Leviticus 20:13 calls for the death penalty for homosexuals. YES! Romans Chapter 1, Verse 32, the Apostle Paul does say that homosexuals are worthy of death. His words, not mine! And I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And I am not ashamed of the truth of the word of God. And I am willing to go to jail for standing on the truth of the word of God.

Cruz and Huckabee wore evangelical religion on their sleeves throughout their campaigns. They both opposed same-sex marriage and LGBT rights, as did their fellow GOP opponents. But, together with Jindal, they went further by hitching their campaigns to Swanson’s extermination program.

Now, after Orlando, Ted Cruz has the audacity to issue this statement:

For all the Democrats who are loud champions of the gay and lesbian community whenever there is a culture battle waging, now is the opportunity to speak out against an ideology that calls for the murder of gays and lesbians.

ISIS and the theocracy in Iran (supported with American taxpayer dollars) regularly murder homosexuals, throwing them from buildings and burying them under rocks. This is wrong, it is evil, and we must all stand against it. Every human being has a right to live according to his or her faith and conscience, and nobody has a right to murder someone who doesn’t share their faith or sexual orientation.

If you’re a Democratic politician and you really want to stand for LGBT, show real courage and stand up against the vicious ideology that has targeted our fellow Americans for murder.

Mike Huckabee posted this to his website as he landed in Tel Aviv yesterday:

News flash: there is a real war on gays and women, but it’s not Republicans who are waging it. And instead of the hate behind this vicious slaughter, we’ll probably hear more lectures about the firearm.

He’s got the hate part right. As for guns, I seriously wonder if Huckabee really wants queers armed so we can fight back on his terms.

Characterizing Orlando as “evil” and “vicious slaughter,” with expressions of concern and sympathy for the LGBT community, is sheer insult. They would probably say it’s unfair that I compare them with ISIS. They love the sinner, they’ll claim. It’s just the sin they hate.

I don’t buy it. It’s a thin line when they single out LGBT people as if gays were all Jesus cared about. In their twisted world Jesus apparently spoke of little else. He came here because of the gays! Now it’s true that on occasion he mentioned poverty, hunger and disease but these were distractions. One certainly shouldn’t waste time on these issues while there are still homosexuals in our midst!

Of course I’m being extreme here and exaggerating to make my point. Or am I?

The "Christians” I’m referring to act as if homosexuality was Jesus’ Big Issue. Yet there are no direct quotes from Jesus speaking about homosexuality anywhere in the Bible. None. Furthermore there was no conception or understanding of “homosexuality,” per se, in Biblical times. Had Jesus talked about it, no one would have a clue what he meant. Our modern understanding of “homosexuality” as an inherent lifelong orientation, as a core component of one’s identity, only began around the 19th century. References to homosexuality in the Bible are about situation-specific conduct, nothing more.

The people who focus narrowly on homosexuality with such intensity are certainly not “fundamentalist” followers of Jesus — and I submit they aren’t really religious at all. They’ve gone past religion into ideology. There’s a huge difference.

I want to be clear that I am not attacking religion in general or Christianity in particular.

I am, however, talking about the layer of “Christians” who see the fight against homosexuality as being among God’s highest priorities. Maybe the highest. I’m talking about the layer of “Christians” who believe they are only free if the rights of LGBT people are stamped out… and the rights of Muslims… and the rights of (fill in the blank). I’m talking about the layer of “Christians” who falsely claim the Founding Fathers expressly intended this to be a Christian nation subject to Biblical laws — meaning the Founding Fathers never intended this to be a secular democracy, but instead a Christian theocracy.

The similarities between this layer of “Christians” and ISIS are startling and disturbing. If they were limited to just the Westboro Baptist Church we could all have a good laugh. Regrettably they are not.

© 2016 Robert C. Laycock

Just Sayin'

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Bob Laycock

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