Shocked and numbed, and I am not even American
The look on President Obama’s face pretty well tells the story. How many times has he stood before the nation and the world to speak again about gun violence and mass shootings? How many times? How many more times is it going to happen before Americans have their fill and do something to rectify the situation? How is the NRA ever going to justify no restriction on firearms?
The pro gun lobby has no moral ground to stand on. All those politicians that depend on the gun lobby need to wake up, and that includes my favorite, Bernie Sanders. It is time to confront the gun lobbyists, and eliminate their lobbying efforts in the election of public officials, and Washington DC, the Congress, and all the state houses of all the states of the Union, need to do the same. It is way past due to put restrictions, US Constitution restrictions on the types of firearms that US citizens can “bear” in light of the 2nd Amendment. The use of assault weapons has got to stop. You do not need an assault weapon under the 2nd Amendment, unless of course you are part of a state militia, which was the intent of the amendment in the first place.
When I heard about this on Sunday, I was stupefied, saddened and angry. I was befuddled as the news came in about the perpetrator of this crime, and how he had been interviewed multiple times by the FBI and each time he was released. I could not understand that in a couple of years someone would be detained and interviewed by the FBI and then let go, and that this same person, could go into a firearms store, and buy himself a military grade assault rifle and high velocity pistol and all the ammunition he wanted. My mind was trying to figure out how a person interviewed by the FBI could even get access to firearms, and purchase them. What good is filling in paperwork at a gun shop, if the gun shop doesn’t use some kind of registry to find out if a person should be sold a firearm in the first place? Does the FBI even pass on this kind of information to Homeland Security and submit names to a gun registry to restrict the sales of firearms to potentially risky individuals?
Mr. Barney Frank is the first person to articulate my three concerns
Mr. Frank said in the New York Times that:
- No one outside of the US military should have access to AR-15 assault rifles. He stated that the constitution does not allow unfettered access to any kind of weapon.
- There is an Islamic element that many people are not talking about, the controversial teachings that ask for the death of homosexuals, among other groups of undesirable people.
- The FBI detained the gunman multiple times and should have continued its surveillance of the man.
Many have questions today and the world grieves
People around the world, and here in my own city, there are plans for a vigil for the citizens who have so many questions and who are suffering from the shock of this violence. My own community, has a growing Muslim community and has a significant LGBTQ community as well. There are two vigils planned for this week.
The City of Kitchener is planning a vigil at Kitchener City Hall on Tuesday. This event is planned as a joint event with the participation of Spectrum Community Space, the City of Kitchener, and the local Muslim community. The Kitchener event will begin at 8:00 pm.
The City of Waterloo is planning an event on the Thursday, and this event is organized by the Waterloo Region Rainbow Coalition and The Order nightclub. The Waterloo gathering will begin at 9 pm. It will be held at the Waterloo Public Square. Participants will be asked to walk to The Order, where there will be an “open mic” forum for people to express themselves.
This is more than an “act of domestic terror”
I gave my head a shake when I first heard how this was being addressed and spoken about. How can this be simply viewed as a “domestic act of terror”? This was both an act of terror AND a hate crime. As a Christian, a conservative one at that, with a bit of a progressive bent, I find this act an outrage. I find it to be very much a hate crime. The duality of the hate crime and the act of domestic terror, perpetrated by a US citizen that was born and raised in the USA, needs to be addressed.
Mr. Frank in the New York Times states the obvious
Ontario’s Premier Wynne stated emphatically that we cannot fight homophobia with islamophobia. I agree with her on this one. We cannot and we must resist demonizing the Muslim communities in our nation and around the world. This must be resisted with all that we have. There are millions of Muslims in North America who are law abiding and productive citizens and who live peaceably in our communities. We must stand with them when incidents like this one takes place.
However, there is a caveat…
Mr. Frank was correct in his comments to address the “Islamic element” where the Islamic teaching calls for the deaths of homosexuals (among other people groups). Mr. Frank was calling for all kinds of leaders and people within the Islamic communities to become more vigilant and active in confronting this mindset that calls for the deaths of people who are not conforming to the Islamic idea of sexuality. I stand with Mr. Frank in this regard, as I would stand with him against any Christian Fundamentalist group that would call for violence against and the deaths of Muslims. I can think of one particular group of Christian extremists here, hint… Westboro… This “church” even responded to this mass shooting by doing what non-thinking people do, by putting the responsibility on God. They posted online that “God sent the shooter.”
Religious attitudes can release life and blessing or condone violence
There is an “elephant in the room” and that elephant is the “religious attitudes and teachings” of the major religions that bear a lot of weight and influence in our world. As CBC reporter, Neil Macdonald said:
“In any event, this much is singularly true: the worst mass murder in American history was directed at one group, and it was done by some one who had sworn allegiance to a fundamentalist religious group”
This is also what Mr. Frank is addressing, and in his words, “the Islamic element.” This is something that needs to be address by all the major faith groups.
There is a need for ALL faith communities to respond appropriately to attacks of this kind:
- Denounce the violence for what it is, hatred, based on religious beliefs.
- Encourage a dialog between large religious ruling bodies, in how to combat sectarianism and hatred, in particular hatred based on sexuality and sexual orientation.
- Encourage pro-active engagement through teaching and communication of how these controversial teachings can be re-interpreted in light of civil rights in a secular society.
- Religious institutions, especially national and international bodies of denominations, need to work with civil government, police agencies, to advocate tolerance and educate people on the nature of civil rights, free speech and hate speech.
- Religious organizations need to reexamine their sacred texts, and offer alternative readings and interpretations that will reflect progressive revelation and how to apply the teachings of their texts in a manner that respects life, and the rights of other people in a secular society.
Are we willing to be agents of change, instruments of peace?
The question today, is whether or not there is the willingness and the fortitude for Muslim institutions of learning, education, as well as their spiritual gatherings, and their leaders to begin such an exercise? Is there a willingness to confront hatred and prejudice against homosexuals? Is there a willingness to denounce violence of any kind in their name of their faith and religion?
I can pointedly ask the same question of my own Evangelical community. Evangelicals are a variety of expressions of Christian belief and practice that number in hundreds of millions around the globe. Historically Evangelicals have stood for marriage as being defined between one man and one woman. That has not changed and it is only a miniscule and vocal amount that embrace “marriage equality.” But being an Evangelical does not mean that I embrace “marriage equality” but in a secular society I see why through civil rights legislation, and through the redefinition of marriage, the marriage of two consenting adults of the same gender would now be protected in law. My not being an advocate of same sex marriage DOES NOT mean I condone or tolerate prejudice and hatred toward the LGBTQ community. I am concerned for the civil rights of all citizens, be they LGBTQ, straight, or from any other ethnic group or religious group. All citizens deserve protection and equal rights. I do not want anyone’s right to be trampled under foot, and I certainly do not want to see people take what they think is the law into their own hands and attack people who are different than themselves. I ask my fellow Evangelicals to reach out to the LGBTQ communities and embrace them as fellow citizens worthy of defense and worthy of protection of the law, and worthy to be defended in the public square when others seek to attack and marginalize the LGBTQ community. It is high time we became consistent in the very basic teaching of Jesus, which is love.
There is no separation
At the end of the day, those of us who call ourselves people of faith, we will only have one thing to answer for: how well did we love? Here, right now, in this crucial time after the attack of this “lone gunman” who attacked others and killed them, because of some misunderstood teaching and application of his supposed faith, we need to stand with the victims of the crime. The victims are not only the members of the LGBTQ community that were killed, but also their friends and families, and also the members of the Muslim community, not only in Orlando, but in your own community as well. Let the LGBTQ community know you stand with them at this hour. Also, let the Muslims community know, that you stand with them too. There really is no separation. We all stand or fall together. What affects one affects us all.
~ Samuel M. Buick