|My view at a vigil in downtown Long Beach, June 12, 2016, |
in memory of the shooting victims in Orlando.
Sunday morning I woke up to the news that 50 people had been killed and many more injured in the worst mass-shooting in U.S. history, at a gay nightclub in Orlando. The news reports I heard said that the shooter used a legally-acquired semi-automatic assault weapon, the same weapon used at other mass shootings in Newton, Aurora, and San Bernardino. Reports also said the shooter was homophobic and abusive, and claimed to be a follower of Islam.
As the day progressed, and even as I led worship at Bixby Knolls Christian Church, I wept for the victims. I also wept because I knew that people who claim to be Christian were at least as responsible for what happened as any who might claim to be Muslim.
Those who spew hate-fueled rhetoric against the LGBT community often claim to be Christian. Politicians who allow anyone to legally acquire semi-automatic assault weapons without having to pass any sort of background check also claim to be Christian. None of them are true to their faith or true to the teachings of Jesus, just as the shooter was not true to the Islamic faith or to the teachings of Muhammed.
I weep, because these leaders have destroyed lives in the name of Jesus.
I weep, because a close friend of mine who has listened to their words now has only one thing to say about religion, something too crude for me to share here – and I don’t blame him.
I weep, because this is not the only time Christian leaders have destroyed lives. A few months ago I saw the movie Spotlight, which won the Oscar for best picture. As the closing credits rolled, I wept because of all those Christian leaders who used the power and trust placed in them to abuse innocent people.
I weep, because Jesus taught a message of love, peace, and acceptance, but that message is lost on the world today. His teachings have become so distorted that many associate the Christian faith with judgment and hypocrisy. What so many Christians stand for is the exact opposite of what Jesus himself stood for, lived for, and died for.
I weep. I pray that God weeps with me. I pray that God weeps with the loved ones of those who died. I pray that God weeps for our nation and for our world, and that God’s compassion shines down on us. Never have I prayed more fervently, “Lord, have mercy.”