Standing in Solidarity with Orlando

A statement on Sunday’s tragic mass shooting in Orlando:

Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of Sunday’s shooting and the people of Orlando, especially to the LGBTQ community.  Our prayers for them are important and necessary, but they are not enough. They must be followed by forthright action to address the hate that pervades our society and the violence that has become epidemic.

Image: Vincent Isner

Image: Vincent Isner

For far too long the  silence of the good people in Christian, Muslim and other religious communities has allowed hate towards LGBTQ communities to fester beneath  a veneer of acceptance. The practice of religious institutions using outworn theologies to address contemporary questions has provided institutional cover for those seeking to exclude LGBTQ persons from their communities.  Scriptural literalism has allowed the theological justification of hate. The responsibility to address this issue with courage and clarity falls squarely on religious communities, their leaders, and particularly their educational institutions.

From a political perspective, mass shootings are the result of an abject failure in public policy. No one needs to have access to weapons of mass destruction such as assault rifles.  The voices of good people –  concerned citizens and elected officials alike – are too often silenced by powerful special interests — such as the NRA — seeking profit over the public good. Ideologies rooted in fear and fueled by hate contribute to the utter failure of our political system to address this epidemic with reason and resolve, allowing  constitutional literalism to perpetuate  these atrocities unabated.

Solidarity requires action. IMPACT International remains committed to educating leaders across the United States and around the world who know how to deconstruct theologies of hate and exclusivism and organize people to act for a just and peaceful world.  As we pray for the victims and their families, we pledge to continue addressing the systemic issues in both the theological and political arenas toward this goal.

Vince Isner