From Theology Today
On June 12 2016, 29-year-old Omar Mateen opened fire inside the Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida killing 49 people. This editorial outlines how succeeding the shocking event there was a knee-jerk response based on assumptions. Politicians began to express hastily formed opinions “This is clearly an act of terror.” Soon after, we learned the shooter had made a 911 call pledging allegiance to ISIS. For many people that was the end of the story in terms of the shooter’s motivation. This turned out to be only part of the story. The full picture seemed to be far more complex. It was reported that Mateen had frequented the Pulse nightclub, engaged with men and joined gay dating sites. He also made statements against members of the LGBT community. His first wife described him as an abusive husband and he was someone struggling with bipolar disorder. Was this, then, an act of terrorism against the United States, even though this is not the typical kind of target ISIS attacks?
Many people do not like complexity; they only seek simple answers, and often cruel ones, that carry their own kind of threat. Roger Jimenez from Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento said the victims deserved what happened to them: “Are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today?”. Along with hate-filled speech against the LGBT community came hate-filled speech against Muslims. One day after the shooting Donald Trump renewed his vow to ban Muslims from immigrating to the US. The Rhetoric used by political and religious fractions seemed intended to evoke and reinforce hate-filled attitudes.
Nancy J. Duff
Orlando, Political Rhetoric, and the Church
Theology Today October 2016 73: 193-197, doi:10.1177/0040573616658998