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What can we say about the Orlando shooting?

1382136_1280x720It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen. Rather than say anything immediately about the Orlando shootings at Pulse, the gay nightclub, I wanted to listen carefully to what others said. I am not sure I have anything better to add, so I am not going to. These are the comments I found most insightful and helpful. 

Simon Butler commented immediately on Facebook:

The dreadful attacks in Orlando have served as a reminder that human beings of goodwill have more in common than divide. Theology is important, doctrine is important and ethics are important but unless we start with a commitment to human flourishing and denounce hate-filled violence of all kinds, we are less than we are called to be as God-imaged, created human beings. That it is Christians slaughtered at worship or gay men murdered at play, matters not one jot: let us recognise what we share. I would hope that this sentiment would be echoed by those who hold to a conservative view of human sexuality as much as those who take a progressive view.

Richard Moy posted this most helpful comment on Facebook and then on his blog:

It is not long ago that I was helping to lead the street pastors team in Wolverhampton. The outreach that we did there almost unwittingly had the gay community as one of its main focuses. This was partly because on one of our first nights out we walked past a gay bar and one of the people there, drunk as he was, shouted ‘you hate us don’t you you’re Christians.’ This had the exact opposite affect he was expecting, and over the coming months we ended up going into gay pubs, nightclubs making friends with people there, helping people get home or get to taxis, doing all the usual Street Pastors Good Samaritan things and generally making friends in the gay community in Wolverhampton who also helped us out a lot. I imagine it was a club a bit like these that was attacked this week in Orlando. A bit like the one that some of our Wolverhampton pioneer ministry team choose to have their birthday party in. It’s deeply sad and a great tragedy that that homophobic attack has made a whole community feel more fragile than it ought. Obviously the American insanity on automatic machine gun ownership is partly culpable but so is the them and us divide that can easily emerge and marginalises the LGBTI community.

I might be wrong but I always felt that these clubs were the place Jesus was most likely to go in and hang out as they seemed to me to have some of the most [openly] disenfranchised & marginalised people in (& often I found people really keen on knowing more about the love of a Father God).

Not just that but in the Christian tradition Jesus teaches us that when we go places and help people sometimes we are helping / hosting angels unawares and sometimes we are even helping him – also unaware that it was him. ‘Whatever you did to the least of these you did it for me’… Was Jesus in the club that night in Orlando awaiting your help & prayers? What would he have looked like if you’d seen him there?

Michael Jensen posted an article on ABC Religion and Ethics, from which I share these extracts:

It’s a tragedy. And it really is this time. There’s none better than that word to describe the destruction, agony, and grief that has unfolded before us in Orlando…

And at this point, our contemporary habit is to want to narrate the story into moral meaningfulness. It was the result of Islamic terrorism, or of Islamophobia. It was a gay hate crime, or a crime against freedom itself. It was made possible by lax gun laws in the US, or by inattention to the radicalisation of Islamic youth. It was an event caused by homophobia in general. Conservative Christians are to blame; or even (by some twisted logic) the victims themselves. Even ISIS wanted to tell the story of the event, as an event they owned…

But what we need most is not declarations of the undoubted meaning of the catastrophe, but lament. We need not commentary, but poetry. The causes of this kind of calamity lie not simply with a lack of the right laws, or with the blaming or this or that group. What hidden rage could possibly cause an individual to murder without compassion or sorrow fifty of his fellow creatures? It cannot be reduced to one simple strand. It is, like most evil, absurd.

What the word ‘tragedy’ allows us to do is to sit in the dust bewildered at what has happened; to recognise that others are in agony, and that as human beings, we have been spared that agony not because we are virtuous, but because – this time – our group wasn’t in the frame. The sixteenth century poet Sir Phillip Sidney wrote of tragedy that it

teacheth the uncertainety of this world, and upon how weake foundations guilden roofes are builded.

That is true of dramatic tragedy, and also of the real life incidents we rightly name ‘tragedy’, too. This sense of uncertainty taught us in tragedy leads to the twinned emotions of pity and fear – pity for those who suffer, and fear that we might share their fate.

Could these emotions in the end prove more constructive than the outrage that burns away our emotional circuitry day after day? That anger has no place to go. But pity, or pathos, builds to sym-pathy, and com-pa-ssion; and fear builds to humility and respect for life’s preciousness and fragility, and a seeking after that which transcends us.

David Ould wrote to his local newspaper:

When Christians who are opposed to gay marriage offer prayers and sympathy for the victims of the Orlando shootings they’re not being hypocrites. We are simply following our master Jesus who taught us to love everyone, not just those we agree with.

Perhaps the final word on all this, and other similar events, should be left to John Donne:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

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44 Responses to What can we say about the Orlando shooting?

  1. Sarah Schofield June 16, 2016 at 9:18 am #

    Thanks Ian. I valued your comments about lament but for me it’s important to add repentance for the times when I turn our fellow humans in ‘them’ or some other form of depersonalising approach. I realise in debate this is all too easy to do but once we replace actual people with a broad brush lifestyle or political based collective term we gloss over their unique preciousness to God. whatever topic we debate there are real lives at the heart of it. I see this in myself when I think of individuals to the right of my personal outlook on life and I try really hard in conversation to keep the human front and centre. I often fail. I guess for me my personal need for repentance would be how I sometimes express myself and crucially how I sometimes think about Trump supporters. All of us who turn a fellow human into an expression of something we see as a problem help create a climate where slaughter like this can happen. In Maggi Dawn’s The Wideness of the Sea she explains how hard it was for women called to priesthood to stand aside from what others saw as merely theological debate. I want to see more evidence that those of us who critique the lives of others also acknowledge the pain we cause and the depersonalisation we risk creating.

    • Ian Paul June 16, 2016 at 9:35 am #

      Thanks Sarah—yes, I agree. I have tried to make it a discipline to be in personal conversation with people with whom I disagree on key issues. And the more contentious the issue, the more important it is to go out of one’s way to be in personal relationship with them.

      • Andrew Godsall June 16, 2016 at 10:06 am #

        I’d like to say I have found that true of you Ian. Sadly, I haven’t.

        • Ian Paul June 16, 2016 at 10:10 am #

          Well, I am glad to say others have not had the same experience as you. The building of relationships is a mutual enterprise, and I always find it more difficult to do with people who approach the task with a determination to be antagonistic.

          • Andrew Godsall June 16, 2016 at 10:14 am #

            “I always find it more difficult to do with people who approach the task with a determination to be antagonistic.”

            I agree wholeheartedly. That has been my experience.

  2. Andrew Godsall June 16, 2016 at 10:13 am #

    I’m sure that’s the case. Sadly, I know others who have.

  3. Lorenzo June 16, 2016 at 10:19 am #

    I find the level of cognitive dissonance in these posts astonishing because I cannot, for the life of me, see any difference between evangelical and Islamic attitudes to homosexual behaviour (bar the extreme minority’s and recent Salafi view of ‘martyring’ yourself to implement God’s punishment on the infidels in this life). It all boils down to ‘it’s evil because God says so in his perfect word,’ to me. You may feel really sorry for the Orlando victims, I do not doubt that, and like the murderer’s father leave ‘the judgement and punishment up to God,’ but the end result is the same: ‘they will not inherit the Kingdom of God.’ It’s written, no matter your feelings for sinners. The social results are pretty much the same also, in countries where Muslims and/or evangelicals are a large majority, gay folks’ life is pretty much a foretaste of hell. Absolutely no insight or questioning into the religiosity that fees the kind of culture that leads to this.

    • Ian Paul June 16, 2016 at 10:34 am #

      Lorenzo, if ‘ I cannot, for the life of me, see any difference between evangelical and Islamic attitudes to homosexual behaviour’ then you need to stop boiling things down.

      I follow a saviour who commanded me to ‘turn the other cheek’, and as a result I am borderline pacificist. To disagree with someone on an issue bears no relation to the idea of murdering those you hate. If you want to argue that these are equivalent, or ‘on a spectrum’ then you are moving into really dangerous territory.

      • Lorenzo June 16, 2016 at 11:41 am #

        Most Muslims are ‘borderline pacifists’ and will agree with you concerning retaliation or murdering those you hate. I was not talking about the personal ideology or interpretation of the murderer, just the respective views of conservative Islam and conservative evangelicalism and the cultures they generate. And I still cannot see the difference on this point.

        • Ian Paul June 16, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

          That’s an odd claim. As the Islamic expert, Kenneth Cragg, pointed out, where Jesus chose the path to the cross, Mohammed chose the Hijrah. Where Jesus allowed himself to be handed over to his enemies, Mohammed made war on them. Jesus turned the other cheek; Mohammed has a sword called ‘neck cleaver.’

          This might or might not be relevant to many Muslims in practice today. But if you ‘cannot see the difference’ I think you need new glasses.

          • Lorenzo June 17, 2016 at 5:38 pm #

            Yes, the founders could not be more different, but I still cannot see how the two theologies differ on the matter.

      • Lorenzo June 16, 2016 at 11:45 am #

        Among many other ayat: the repayment of a bad action is as bad as the action itself. (As-surah, v. 40)

        • Andrew Godsall June 16, 2016 at 1:16 pm #

          ” You may feel really sorry for the Orlando victims, I do not doubt that, and like the murderer’s father leave ‘the judgement and punishment up to God,’ but the end result is the same: ‘they will not inherit the Kingdom of God.’ ”

          Sadly Lorenzo I think you are right. It’s exhibited in the Archbishops’ statements and attitudes and the outburst of Sentamu on the TV yesterday. It lacks credibility and integrity. Or as someone else commented, if Sentamu thinks the “I have gay friends” line makes him sound like less of a bigot, he has not quite understood the issue.

    • Phillip Mutchell June 16, 2016 at 10:57 am #

      Lorenzo yes absolutely the continual practitioners of sin will not inherit the kingdom which is inherently spiritual and thus unconcerned finally with ‘marrying and giving in marriage’ but Christianity is a choice, when it wasn’t it’s chiefs whipped and hung its dissenters into shape, but this was against the entire spirit of the new covenant, whereas Islam was only conceived as a totality of control from the time of its prophet’s success. Although I share your observation that perhaps more Christians should acknowledge that all things are inshallah

    • David Shepherd June 16, 2016 at 7:44 pm #


      Back in 2013, Huffington Post published a list of the 10 Democrat senators who had declined to endorse same sex marriage.

      Senator Feinstein’s Assault Rifles Bill of 2013 would have made illegal 157 types of firearms, most likely including the Sig Sauer MCX which was used by Omar Mateen.

      Of the 43 Democrats who support same-sex marriage, 10 of them voted against the Bill and thereby contributed to the lack of gun control which, as you say, feeds the kind of culture that leads to this.

      Oh, but you couldn’t possibly blame the lack of political will to impose gun control because it clearly doesn’t correlate with refusal to support same-sex sexual relationships. And that’s because to do so would frustrate your facile and inane cause-effect theory, which desperately and contemptibly tries to link the conservative evangelicals to this horrific tragedy.

      • Lorenzo June 17, 2016 at 8:55 am #

        I certainly never said there was a single cause, aka religion to this, you are being facile.

        • David Shepherd June 17, 2016 at 11:09 am #


          I’m taking issue with the emohasis.
          Yeah, you just decided to highlight the Evangelical beliefs, which you described as a ‘religiosity’ contributing to the kind of culture which leads to this!

          No proof of causality and Not a word about gun control. Talk about bias!

          • Lorenzo June 17, 2016 at 11:30 am #

            because evangelicalism is not a religion, stricto sensu, nor a denomination, I did not know which word to use.

          • Lorenzo June 17, 2016 at 11:33 am #

            and gun control is to blame as well, there, fixed it for you, and self-hatred possibly, and revenge, or mental illness maybe. I was trying to make a point about religion because the blog is about religious leaders’ reactions.

          • David Shepherd June 17, 2016 at 12:43 pm #

            And the breadth of those implicated factors destroys any proof that the sexual scruples of evangelicals ‘feed the kind of culture that leads to this’.

            Don’t worry. I’d never expect you to admit that it was just an angry ‘knee-jerk’ scapegoating exercise!

      • Andrew Godsall June 17, 2016 at 10:09 am #

        “And that’s because to do so would frustrate your facile and inane cause-effect theory, which desperately and contemptibly tries to link the conservative evangelicals to this horrific tragedy.”

        David: that’s a cheap shot. I think the point that Lorenzo and others are making is that stigmatising the LGBT community as less than fully Christian, or less than full members of the church makes them, ultimately, less than full members of the human race and leads to discrimination, which can ultimately lead to the awful events of Orlando. Sadly, Conservative Evangelicals tend to support such discrimination. That’s a symptom rather than a cause.

        • Mat Sheffield June 17, 2016 at 11:14 am #

          You have just asserted that discrimination against the LBGT community, specifically discrimination from Christians in this case, is the cause (or a cause) of a dehumanization, and a devaluation of their persons that in turn can lead to the events in Orlando. I think elements of this are true.

          But you then make a direct link between this attitude and that of conservative evangelicals, “They support such discrimination”. You’re criticizing religious conservatism for allowing, or enabling (if not encouraging) the sort of attitude that justifies violence? Despite you saying it’s a symptom, you nonetheless describe it as a cause.

          So far as I understand it, the point Lorenzo was making was not that conservative evangelicalism (or conservative Islam) is directly responsible for encouraging this sort of action, but the platform it creates can provide cover or justification for those with a propensity and means for violence. Maybe that’s what you meant?

          • Andrew Godsall June 17, 2016 at 11:57 am #

            Helpful addition and clarification Mat, thanks.
            I still want to stand by the distinction between symptom and cause.

          • David Shepherd June 17, 2016 at 5:56 pm #


            Of course, there is such a thing as lawful discrimination. The CofE can disqualify an imam who syncretises Islam with Christianity from consideration for Holy Orders, a theatre director can decide to limit auditions to men for the lead role in Hamlet and a priest may lawfully refuse to marry divorcees.

            And no-one would claim that any of these forms of legal discrimination provide a platform for religious bigotry and gender violence.

        • David Shepherd June 17, 2016 at 11:44 am #


          Nonsense. As an example, Mahatma Ghandi might well be one of Jesus’ followers, who walked in what light he had, and asks unwittingly before Jesus’ throne: ‘When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ (Matt. 25:38, 39)

          And it might well be that “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matt. 25:40)

          Declaring that Hinduism is other than Christian and that all forms of idolatry (including Westen consumerism and any heathen variant) are to be rejected doesn’t equate to saying that Hindus themselves are less than Christians.

          Oh, but I know, you mean that if the practice of idolatry (or anything else prohibited by scripture) is deemed to be inseparable from one’s personal deity of identity, and if Evangelicals refuse to defer to it, then woe betide! You and the ‘Affirm All’ wing of the CofE are up in arms!

          Please take your guilt-tripping somewhere else! My reliance on Christ neither confers, nor implies inherent superiority above those who don’t.

          • Andrew Godsall June 17, 2016 at 11:56 am #

            “Oh, but I know, you mean that if the practice of idolatry (or anything else prohibited by scripture) is deemed to be inseparable from one’s personal deity of identity, and if Evangelicals refuse to defer to it, then woe betide! You and the ‘Affirm All’ wing of the CofE are up in arms!”

            David: if I had any idea what you were actually trying to say in your usual fancy/dismissive way here, then I’d respond. Until you can enlighten me, I won’t bother.

          • David Shepherd June 17, 2016 at 12:33 pm #

            Oh, good!

          • Mat Sheffield June 17, 2016 at 12:38 pm #

            All humans are equal: equally sinful, equally valuable, equally capable and equally created in God’s image. The bible affirms humanity and human-ness in spite of our fallen state. Christians are still human, so there is no superiority to speak of.

            But, all actions are NOT equal, some are sinful, some please God, some are holy, some immoral and so on and so forth. Some actions the bible explicitly condemns (murder), others it explicitly affirms (charity). Wrong actions will incur judgement, right action will gain reward.

            I do not think that too controversial.

            But, issues occur when you associate actions (the latter) with identity (the former) and consider the two inseparable! This is what David is railing against and I too believe he is right. For as long as your sexual identity 9as but one example) is a defining and intrinsic part of your humanity, as opposed to something you think and do, it will be considered inviolable.

            To go back and link this to the subject at hand (this is after all a digression from Ian’s post) one of our reactions should be to fight for this distinction.

            It is right that the church should and MUST support and show empathy with those whose humanity is being ignored, but it cannot do so while affirming actions it believe/knows to be wrong. The church must also hold itself accountable when it is guilty of doing the same thing.

            In the case of Orlando, the church should (and has) stand against and condemn the actions of this man and those like him, but while doing to so and in acknowledging our shared humanity and value we should not also be giving approval to the actions of those we are defending.

          • Andrew Godsall June 17, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

            “But, all actions are NOT equal, some are sinful, some please God, some are holy, some immoral and so on and so forth. Some actions the bible explicitly condemns (murder), others it explicitly affirms (charity). Wrong actions will incur judgement, right action will gain reward.

            I do not think that too controversial.”

            Thanks Mat, but I do think it’s controversial when we pout ourselves in the place of God and decide who is going to incur what kind of judgement when we have quite deliberately ignored some scriptural prohibitions and emphasised others because of our own, often quite subconscious, prejudices. Clearly the whole of the Church of England does not believe sex before marriage or same sex activity to be universally sinful, even if the ‘official’ line might try to say that. Hence we are in the middle of shared conversations and laity are not to have their personal lives questioned or be subject to discipline for disagreeing *in practice* with the official view.

            It relates to Orlando – as Jeremy Pemberton spells it out below:
            ‘If you support discrimination against LGBT Christians then you dehumanise them. And if you don’t want to dehumanise them, then discrimination cannot stand.’

          • Mat Sheffield June 17, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

            No. I do not think you are seeing the distinction that’s being made and neither is Jeremy. This is what Ian and others were getting so cross about earlier in the year. The underlying contention in the SSM debate, and one that is not being properly addressed, is not “is homosexuality sinful?” but “is homosexuality innate?”

            If the answer to this is yes, and the bible supports that claim, then you and Jeremy are right and the church is discriminating against something you have no power to change, control or question (it is simply who you are, end of discussion). I’m not so sure.

          • Andrew Godsall June 17, 2016 at 3:44 pm #

            “The underlying contention in the SSM debate, and one that is not being properly addressed, is not “is homosexuality sinful?” but “is homosexuality innate?” ”

            Mat: are you sure about that? The question of it being sinful doesn’t really matter compared to its origins?

          • Mat Sheffield June 17, 2016 at 8:18 pm #

            No, it matters. To clarify, my assertion is that you cannot adequately address the issues of sinfulness unless you have agreement on the other point too. It is not dependant on it, but if it’s ignored everyone just talks across purposes.

            David makes the same point I’m making in his response to Jeremy below (but slightly better), so with that in mind I’m not going to comment any more here.

  4. Mat Sheffield June 16, 2016 at 1:40 pm #

    I think you’re right to not make a response of your own beyond the expression of empathy and commitment to reflection on this tragedy. It’s too easy to jump on the ‘solidarity bandwagon’ for less than sincere reasons, and it cheapens the genuine pain and grief of those most effected when we do. No one wants (well, no one should want) to turn these events into a platform for something else and sometimes silence is the best way to prevent that..

  5. James Byron June 16, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

    I’ve nothing much to say on sexuality (I fully accept those taking a traditional position can sincerely condemn this), but regarding firearms:-

    It should be noted that the Feds severely restricted “automatic machine gun ownership” (a tautology: all machineguns are full-auto) in the 1930s, and no new weapons can be registered after 1986. No legal auto or select-fire weapon has ever been used in a massacre: indeed, in the only record anyone’s been able to find of one being used in a crime (a single murder), the perp was an LEO.

    This horrific crime was committed with semi-auto weapons, of a kind commonly available in Europe. Arguments for new gun laws are more likely to succeed if they’re accurate.

  6. Jeremy Pemberton June 17, 2016 at 9:37 am #

    It is interesting that some of the comments are focusing on the linkage between gun laws in the US and the actions of the killer. I think that linkage is real and justifiable. And there certainly is a lot of work to be done in that regard in the US.

    However, the other link that needs exploring is that between the impact of religion and its treatment of LGBT minorites, both theoretically and practically, and the actions of the self-hating homophobe at the nightclub. My contention is that theologies that make LGBT people out to be somehow less fully human, or less fully deserving of God’s love or less worthy of participating in the life of the Church, or which structurally denigrate their relationships and their lives, are part of a problem not part of a solution. The same is true or Isaln or any other religious system. If you support discrimination against LGBT Christians then you dehumanise them. And if you don’t want to dehumanise them, then discrimination cannot stand.

    • David Shepherd June 17, 2016 at 4:36 pm #


      Answered above. But still, let’s flip this round. I’m Pro-Life. As far back as I can remember, I have felt intensely protective of the rights of the unborn.

      Reaching my current Pro-life personhood has been a keenly experienced journey of self-discovery.

      I have two wonderful daughters and it fills me with revulsion to think that they (or any other child) could have been terminated during pregnancy for anything other than a genuine threat to the mother’s life.

      I do realise that many others feel differently to me and while they have the democratic right to differ, I know that, as far back as I began to experience feelings about it, I’ve been the same way. It’s not just a frivolous political stance, but an inner reality.

      I’ve talked to many other Pro-lifers at rallies and their experience concurs with mine. I also know that there are just as many people from all walks of life, who are cowered by society’s liberal views into hiding their feelings about foetal flourishing.

      I announce to you and others here that this visceral abiding life-affirming consciousness is part of my identity.

      On that basis, all pro-choice advocacy is a direct affront to my existence, and nothing less than hate speech against my identity and that of so many other Pro-Lifers.

      The difference here is that you’re entitled to express the belief that there is no such thing as a Pro-life identity.

      And most here would associate the rejection of my identity as contributing to the kind of culture that leads to violence against the pro-choice identity

      • David Shepherd June 17, 2016 at 4:43 pm #

        I meant to say: ‘And most here would not associate the rejection of my identity as contributing to the kind of culture that leads to violence against the pro-life identity.

      • Andrew Godsall June 18, 2016 at 9:04 am #

        I tell you what David – lets observe all the other species who observe this pro life behaviour so obviously and commission some studies and then we can come to some conclusions about whether it is innate behaviour or just a social construct?

        • Ian Paul June 20, 2016 at 8:21 am #

          I think this comment helpfully shows how poor some aspects of this discussion has become. First, any members of other species who are ‘exclusively same-sex attracted’ cannot pass on any innate characteristics, since they will not breed.

          Secondly, if something occurs in the animal world, it says nothing about whether it is ‘innate’ or related to psycho-sexual development shaped by the environment.

          Thirdly, we find also find incest, polygamy and sexual abuse all over the animal world as common behaviours. What are we to deduce from that? How are animal behaviours related to human ethics?

          Alan Wilson included this kind of comment in his book, and appeared to think it proved something. Odd.

          • Andrew Godsall June 22, 2016 at 11:08 am #

            What it shows is that comparing a Pro Life stance, as David Shepherd does above, is a useless exercise. It proves nothing.

        • Mat Sheffield June 20, 2016 at 10:51 am #

          I agree with Ian.

          I think any comparison to the animal world does precisely the thing you (Andrew) and Jeremy both rightly want to avoid, namely devaluing the uniqueness of our humanity. That argument (aside from being illogical) makes you a hypocrite and you should avoid it.

  7. Martin Reynolds June 17, 2016 at 3:56 pm #

    I thought the statement from the RC bishop of St Petersburg, Florida was particularly helpful

    …..” sadly it is religion, including our own, which targets, mostly verbally, and also often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people. Attacks today on LGBT men and women often plant the seed of contempt, then hatred, which can ultimately lead to violence. Those women and men who were mowed down early yesterday morning were all made in the image and likeness of God. We teach that. We should believe that. We must stand for that. Without yet knowing who perpetrated the PULSE mass murders, when I saw the Imam come forward at a press conference yesterday morning, I knew that somewhere in the story there would be a search to find religious roots. While deranged people do senseless things, all of us observe, judge and act from some kind of religious background. Singling out people for victimization because of their religion, their sexual orientation, their nationality must be offensive to God’s ears. It has to stop also.”
    He too makes much of the connection with gun control in this piece.

  8. Martin Reynolds June 17, 2016 at 4:02 pm #

    And this seems to be the position of many Christians today

    “A few months ago, Pastor Gerald Sharon—who has been lead pastor of Southwest since 2013 and previously served at Saddleback Church in Orange County—asked the church hierarchy to look into “the extent to which a homosexual individual could be involved in the life of Southwest Church.”

    While the church leadership initially seemed engaged in the discussions, they recently sent Sharon a letter in which they unanimously affirmed Southwest’s current position on homosexuality.

    Southwest’s LGBT policy is written down in a document titled “Homosexuality and Human Sexuality.” The document does not appear to be publicly available.

    “My heart sank realizing that no homosexual person who would read these documents would truly feel welcome at Southwest Church,” Sharon wrote in his resignation letter.

    “And if the positions held in these papers are followed, they will effectively exclude homosexual individuals from the life of Southwest. My desire was to rescind these papers, neither affirming nor condemning homosexuality so that all individuals regardless of their perspective could feel completely welcome and fully loved at Southwest.”

    Sharon’s resignation is effective July 8, but the church elders have forbidden him from attending any services at Southwest, according to the resignation letter”

    • David Shepherd June 18, 2016 at 11:45 am #


      From what I have read, Sharon differed with Southwest Church’s policy which did not affirm same-sex relationships as marriage. In this Internet era, I’m truly surprised that the Southwest’s LGBT policy, ‘Homosexuality and Human Sexuality’ hasn’t been leaked to the media. Until we have this paper, we only have Sharon’s allegation.

      While no organisation can control the media response on these issues, by comparison with the CofE debacle over Jeffrey John, Southwest Church’s transparency over this issue and graciousness in publishing Sharon’s resignation letter in full is quite admirable:

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