It is difficult for faithful Christians to understand why they are being blamed by some of their own religious leaders for inspiring a terrorist attack that killed 50 and wounded dozens more in a gay nightclub in Orlando. Earlier last week, Most Reverend Robert N. Lynch, the bishop of St. Petersburg, Florida, posted a statement on his blog that blamed the teachings of the Catholic Church for breeding the kind of “contempt” for the LGBT community that caused the violence in Orlando.…Bishop Lynch wasn't that direct in correlating Church teaching to events in Orlando but that is a reasonable take on what the Bishop wrote. Quoting Lynch: “Attacks today on LGBT men and women often plant the seed of contempt, then hatred, which can ultimately lead to violence.”
Likewise, United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcana of the California Pacific Conference blogged that her denomination’s teachings are to blame for the terrorist attack:Blame? No. Carcana rightly questions whether religious based homophobia might have been a contributing factor to the slaughter.
I have been struck by a concern that has penetrated my heart. Is it possible that we United Methodists with such a negative attitude and position against LGBTQI persons contribute to such a crime. …
Hendershott has an hypothesis:
Perhaps these religious leaders are attempting to show solidarity with the grieving families mourning the loss of their children—a misguided attempt to remind those who lost loved ones that they are all children of God—regardless of their sexual orientation. Or, maybe it is an effort to deflect attention away from the harsh teachings on homosexuality held by adherents of Islam by implying that the teachings of the Catholic Church or most Christian denominations are no different from those of Islam—and should be rejected. …I continue to scratch my head over the meaning of the highlighted portion. Hendershott goes on to rail against Bishop Lynch for many paragraphs. It is just gratuitous noise. At the heart of this piece is the fierce determination of Hendershott to claim victimhood at the hands of those (including a Catholic bishop) who suggest that gays have been victimized by her religion. It is an oddly shaped pretzel of logic.
Let us begin to untangle this with a statement of fact: Hendershott's church teaches that gay people are “objectively disordered” and that gay sex is “intrinsically disordered.” The prelates always claim that gay people should be treated with love, compassion and dignity. That should start with not calling a natural variant of human sexuality “disordered” which is at the crossroads of Faith and Superstition. Add to that all of the awful things that the Vatican and its agents have said about us as parents. According to the prelates and Catholic organizations we raise neurotic, sexually conflicted, unstable children. It is weird and the religious doctrine is at odds with the research.
It is all weird. Yes, it is weird to call gay people disordered based on the adoration of ancient chronicles interpreted by people who know nothing about social science. But it gets worse. The Church attempts to impose their weirdness on society (not just adherents) as public policy. In some locales Christians (including evangelical Protestants) have done a pretty good job keep gay people as second class citizens. For years these folks said that the only reason we wanted to legally marry was to destroy marriage. They trotted out crackpots like Mark Regnerus to assert that we are crappy parents. What kind of message does this send?
Getting back to Orlando, the tragedy seems to have two components. It was both an act of terrorism and a hate crime. Religious conservatives continue to dehumanize gay people and devalue gay lives. Does that not make it easier to murder and maim us? Does that not make gay people targets? Moreover, Christian conservatives are intentionally riling up their followers. According to the rhetoric we are directly responsible for Christians losing religious freedom. Florists who defy the law and refuse to sell flowers if they are to be used at a same-sex wedding are elevated to hero status. They are just asking for acts of vengeance. There are religious zealots who murder abortion doctors. At what point are gay people “worthy of death?”
Hendershott offends me. 49 people are dead and 53 people were injured. Some of the injured remain in critical condition. And she is a victim? I don't think so. She needs to own some of the hate that she spreads as religious doctrine. It is unnecessary and it is unacceptable. Bishop Lynch offers guidance in that regard:
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…