The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (6/17/16) **Updated

This has been a difficult week for so many.  Though there have been a number of amazing posts written this week, I want to take a moment to focus specifically on the horrific events which occurred in Orlando this past Sunday.  As I begin this post, I want to make my own positons very clear.

  1. This was a hate crime.  A deranged man decided to murder 49 innocent people, and attempted to murder many more, specifically because of their gender or sexual orientation.
  2. This incident emphasizes clearly how dangerous homophobia can truly be.  Whether or not one would ever dare to murder another human being, promoting a rhetoric of “hate the sin” which intentionally targets other persons merely for the purpose of condemning them will always lead to someone “hating the sinner” as well.  Hate eventually produces casualties every time.
  3. I respect that not everyone has my views on firearms.  I believe in a radical non-violence rooted deeply in my theology of the cross and my understanding of eschatology.  Whether we agree on precise hermeneutics, I think it important we all recognize that the system is deeply broken.  There is absolutely no reason a man on the FBI’s watchlist with a history of domestic violence should be able to obtain a gun.  There is certainly no reason it should be easier to obtain a gun than to pass a background check to volunteer at my own child’s school.  The mixture of hatred and weapons of mass killing is too prevalent in our society, it is time to start having the conversation about how easy access to guns fuels mass hate crimes like Orlando and Charleston and terror attacks like San Bernadino or Sandy Hook.

I realize some of these positions are not popular.  I am willing to have discussions on these things, but due to the sensitive nature of many of these topics and the timing of this post, I ask that those wishing to have prolonged discussions or present opposing viewpoints email me at nate.sparks130@gmail.com .  Please remember that this was a tragedy and many continue to reel from this moment.  Person’s expressing hateful rhetoric or insensitive comments will not have their comments approved.  As a white, straight/cis Christian male it is not my place to trivialize the pain of others by allowing prolonged discussion centered on co-opting the pain of others in order to de-center the community that was targeted.

Method

I have been asked regularly how I define the GBU categories.  Here is my rationale:

Good – Posts with excellent content which contain a positive argument.  These posts are not based in critique but in an argument from a positive premise.

Bad – Posts with excellent content which feature a negative argument.  These posts are based in critique, and work to expose the darkness while pointing towards the light.

Ugly –  Posts that contain content that is simply hateful, disturbing, or otherwise odd and unworthy of praise.  I include this to remind us all that Christianity is a complex religion with a great deal of corruption and injustice therein.  We must own and oppose these influences within our walls, instead of only ever talking about the evils without.

The Good

  1. Mattew Vines has written an excellent post highlighting the ways in which qualified expressions of support by Conservative Christians are little more than a slap in the face to the LGBTQ+ community.  This is an important post, and one we all need to read and listen to carefully.

http://time.com/4366465/christians-after-orlando/

  1. Eliel Cruz has penned a touching tribute to the 49 slain in the Orlando shooting, reflecting on both his Latinx heritage and his pride as a bisexual man.

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/my-pride-is-bulletproof-a-queer-puerto-rican-on-life-after-orlando-20160616?page=2

  1. Isaac Archuleta’s open letter to the conservative Christian community asks the important question, “Is it possible that you’ve blurred the line between tolerance and unconditional love?”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/isaac-archuleta/an-open-letter-to-my-cons_1_b_10485876.html

  1. I recently came across this post by California judge, and avid blogger, Tim Fall.  In this post, Tim expresses the dilemma for Christians and gun ownership and self-defense through a reflection on his own story.

https://timfall.wordpress.com/2015/12/06/why-i-do-not-carry-a-concealed-weapon/

  1. This article from Kevin Garcia reflects on the pain and grief that he has been struggling with in the wake of the Orlando attack.  For those of us in the Church who were not born LGBTQ+, it is important for us to listen to the voices of our LGBTQ+ neighbor and family as they teach us what it means for us to support them and show them love in the midst of this tragedy.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/graceismessy/2016/06/14/how-to-support-your-lgbtq-friends-right-now/

The Bad

  1. Nicholas Kristoff has written a thought provoking article on the ways in which the current system by which persons can purchase guns is broken.  Right now there are loopholes allowing persons to legally purchase weapons without any background check whatsoever.  Given that the LGBTQ+ community is already the most targeted for hate crimes, with persons of color coming in a close second, it hardly makes sense that the process for buying a gun is less stringent than the process for volunteering at a local elementary school to read to children.  We may disagree on what changes should look like, but I hope we can all agree this is a serious problem.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/16/opinion/some-extremists-fire-guns-and-other-extremists-promote-guns.html?_r=0

  1. Laura Haines has written an excellent post reflecting on her difficulty in relating to conservative Christian expressions of solidarity for the Orlando LGBTQ+ community when she and so many others have seen how the anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric of the church has ruined so many lives.  (Content Warning: Suicide)

http://www.redeemingme.com/2016/06/16/equal-empathy/

  1. Broderick Greer has reflected on the ways in which gay clubs have served as sanctuary and safety for so many LGBTQ+ persons who have been pushed out of families and churches for their orientation.  He reminds us that this was a violation of the one space where many truly felt safe, and that we need to seriously address our hate if we are ever going to overcome it.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/soloish/wp/2016/06/13/gay-nightclubs-and-black-churches-are-sanctuaries-heres-how-to-make-them-safer/

  1. Since originally writing this post, I came across this post by Samantha Field and immediately knew I would be remiss if I did not add it. She has thoroughly eviscerated the notion that harmful rhetoric and solidarity/love can co-exist in this poignant post.
    http://samanthapfield.com/2016/06/15/yes-you-hate-me-christian-homophobia-orlando/

    The Ugly

    1. There has been a great deal of hate coming from various corners within the church in the wake of Orlando Shooting.  The Church as a whole needs to recognize that these voices represent hate and extremism and directly feed the environment in which these 49 innocent LGBTQ+ persons were brutally gunned down.

    It is easy to point to extremist voices like Westboro Baptist or this vile man.

    http://www.wisn.com/news/sacramento-pastor-upset-more-didnt-die-in-orlando/40052214?utm_source=Social&utm_medium=FBPAGE&utm_campaign=WISN%2012%20NEWS

    It is seems harder for many to recognize the harm of the fact that in the past year, three former presidential candidates – Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, and Ted Cruz – made appearances at a rally where a pastor called for gays to be executed.

    http://americablog.com/2016/06/cruz-huckabee-jindal-need-apologize-attending-kill-gays-rally.html

    It is also hard for them to recognize that laws like HB2 in North Carolina and the support of Kim Davis by so many conservative Christians as a “champion” of “religious liberty” is just as hateful.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/charlotte-robertson/when-home-is-hate-a-reflection_b_9628060.html

    http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/09/05/437831610/kim-davis-supporters-rally-in-front-of-detention-center

    The Church has a serious hate problem and it is time we looked it dead in the eye and addressed this sickening injustice within our own walls.

    1. This week has seen several prominent Christian leaders speak up in solidarity with the victims of the Orlando Shooting.  It is interesting to compare their statements to their own stance on LGBTQ+ justice issues.

    Franklin Graham made the following statement.  Graham sent an aid team from his relief organization Samaritan’s Purse to Orlando, but in his speeches he chose to attack president Obama for his supposedly weak stance on radical-islamic terrorism.  Absent from Graham’s statement was any mention of a hate crime or the LGBTQ+ community.

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/rev-franklin-graham-leads-thousands-prayer-orlando-shooting-victims-165236/#0AJzz7KqBid5wOpg.99

    One wonders if this oversight is related to the fact that Graham has previously called gay persons “the enemy” and opposed letting gay couples adopt because they will “convert” children to being gay.

    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/franklin-graham-warns-christians-keep-gays-away-their-kids-and-churches

    http://www.advocate.com/politics/media/2014/03/26/billy-grahams-son-gays-recruit-children-through-adoption

    Russell Moore faired no better.  He also failed to call this a hate crime and asked Christians to stop using this as an opportunity to talk about sexuality or to discuss how hate propogated by the church feeds into violence against the LGBTQ+ community.  Instead, he asked everyone to pretend these issues are not important and just cry together.

    http://www.russellmoore.com/2016/06/12/orlando-can-still-weep-together/

    Perhaps this is because just this month Moore has called anyone who does not oppose same-sex marriage and other issues of “sexuality” in our culture “cowards.”  http://religionnews.com/2016/06/13/russell-moores-controversial-lgbt-comments-at-justice-conference-hateful-or-helpful/

    Or maybe because last month he wrote an op-ed in which he used slippery slopes and demonstrable lies to attack the transgender community.

    http://religionnews.com/2016/05/13/what-the-transgender-bathroom-debate-means-for-you/

     James Dobson also failed to address the fact that this was a hate crime against the LGBTQ+ community, instead choosing to offer a surprisingly brief statement in which he focused on “radical-Islamic terrorism”.

    http://drjamesdobson.org/specials/the-orlando-shootings

    These words ring extremely hollow given that Dobson proclaimed the Sandy Hook elementary shooting, where 20 kidnergarteners and 6 teachers were killed, an act of divine judgment against the US for “gay-marriage.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/17/james-dobson-connecticut-shooting-gay-marriage_n_2318015.html

    If these men cannot even bring themselves to recognize the hate which drove this incident, how then can they be trusted to truly stand in solidarity with those who have been so viciously attacked and hated?

    1. Rod Dreher, of “The American Conservative” has a disturbingly myopic op-ed in the New York Times.  He critiques the LGBTQ+ community and their allies for responding to Conservative acts of “solidarity” with mistrust and says that they are contributing to the problem, not seeking a solution.

    http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/06/16/have-christians-created-a-harmful-atmosphere-for-gays/waving-a-blood-soaked-rainbow-flag-to-scapegoat-Christians

    One wonders if Dreher realizes how deeply problematic it is to focus solely on radical Islamic terrorism in this instance.  To understand why this has become problematic, it is important to look as well at the Charleston shooting.  In Charleston, a white suprmecist violated a sacred space and murdered 9 people in cold blood.  Despite this, multiple people declined to call this a terrorist attack.  Even more tried to defuse the deep racism of the incident by making the entire attack about persecution of Christians.  That is to say, when a mentally-ill man killed 9 black persons because he hated persons of color, white conservatives decided that this was ultimately about them.

    http://thinkprogress.org/world/2015/07/06/3677323/white-americans-dont-think-charleston-massacre-counts-terrorism/

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/6/18/1394261/-Fox-News-Charleston-shooting-is-an-attack-on-faith-not-race-calls-for-pastors-to-arm-themselves

    Now more white conservative Christians are arguing (as noted above) that this is about Islam and not about hatred toward the LGBTQ+ community.  They have colonized the space of those grieving in order to claim that they, also, are in danger here and that we need to be focusing on Islam and not on the hatred within our own walls.

    Closing Thoughts

    To my fellow white, cis/het Christians who push this rhetoric I implore you:

    Listen to Anderson Cooper, himself a gay man, read the names of the 49 murdered, taken so violently from LGBTQ+ community.  Listen to the emotion in his voice and tell me this has nothing to do with hate.  Then tell me that the statements above do not function to rob LGBTQ+ persons of their space to mourn and process this horrific attack.

    This was a targeted and terroristic hate crime against the LGBTQ+ community.  This is not our space to colonize.

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/13/us/anderson-cooper-reads-orlando-shooting-victims-names/

    If we are going to claim the name and cross of Christ, then we must weep with the mourners (Romans 12:15), we must offer love and comfort without qualification or proviso (1 John 4).  We must humble ourselves, set aside our privilege (Phil 2:1-11) and ask ourselves the hard question about our own complicity in this culture of hate which has claimed 49 lives  It is time for us to see the tears and hear the anguished cries of a beautiful and diverse created in the image of God to demonstrate his grace in the gender and sexual identities he has given them and embrace them as neighbor and family (Luke 10:25-37). Most of all, let us sit at their feet as they teach it what it means to be like Christ.

     

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (6/17/16) **Updated

  1. I didn’t read every word, but appreciate the collection of responses you’ve done here, and summarizing what people have said. Indeed, the response of many among Christian leaders has been disappointing, sometimes shocking.

    Like

Thanks for taking the time to read and engage. I look forward to your feedback, I welcome any criticism. However, as my goal here is mutualy respectful, beneficial conversation, I only ask that we keep civility in mind with our words. Grace and Peace.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s