The Roman Catholic Bishop of St Petersburg, Florida, has written a blog piece, republished by the Washington Post, in which he confesses that religion has all too often bred violence against LGBT people.
… 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.
His remarks came as the Archbishops of Canterbury and York were receiving criticism after the first call to prayer from the Church of England failed to name the targeting of the LGBT community by the atrocity in Orlando. The statement of the Archbishops not long afterwards was explicit, saying that,
After Sunday’s attack in Orlando as Christians we must speak out in support of LGBTI people, who have become the latest group to be so brutally targeted by the forces of evil. We must pray, weep with those affected, support the bereaved, and love without qualification.
“The obligation to object to these acts of persecution, and to support those LGBTI people who are wickedly and cruelly killed and wounded, bereaved and traumatised, whether in Orlando or elsewhere, is an absolute call on our Christian discipleship. It arises from the unshakeable certainty of the gracious love of God for every human being.
Yet as recently as last week, it was reported that the Archbishop of Canterbury had personally warned of “consequences” were the Scottish Episcopal Church to amend its marriage canons to allow clergy to celebrate same-gender marriages. The SEC passed the first step of that process at its General Synod.
Later Monday, the Church of England shared a prayer by the Revd Rachel Mann which included the lines
We stand in furious solidarity with queer people
in Orlando and around the world,
and ask, ‘How Long, O Lord?’
O Fierce Indwelling Love,
may your passion for justice, mercy and love
make us unafraid of the other within,
and joyous in our celebration of your Rainbow People.
Featured image from the Orlando Sentinel via Facebook