Orlando: Another Senseless Act of Violence

For Immediate Release, Monday June 13, 2016Affirmation Logo

By Affirmation: United Methodists Co-spokesperson Ann Craig

As the Co-Chair of Affirmation United Methodists, the oldest LGBTQ group in The United Methodist Church, I can tell you that we are deeply grieved by the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States.  The targeting of LGBTQ people is a direct result of generations of religious teachings that condemn and reject LGBTQ people based on selective scriptural literalism.

All across the country people are coming together to hold vigils and to speak out against violence, hatred, and the lack of gun controls.

People will say the gunman was unstable; but someone taught him who to hate, and someone allowed him to buy guns, even thought he was “on the radar” of the FBI.

I was at the New York Annual conference last week when a delegate objected to calling such selective literalism “bigotry.”  He said he was just expressing his opinion.  But Christians are called to test the spirits by their fruits.  Bigotry breeds violence, whereas opinions breed conversation and debate.  Today, bigotry has yielded a harvest of murder.

For The United Methodist Church to move beyond bigotry, clergy, bishops, and agency leaders need to speak out against this vicious violence.  This is not the only violence LGBTQ people face.  Transgender women of color are ten times more likely to be murdered in this country than any other group.  When faith leaders are silent, prejudice has permission to descend to its most violent level.  And this is not to mention the daily indignities of bathroom politics.

There are no rules in The United Methodist Church against transgender people.  There are no rules that stop clergy from speaking out when hate raises its ugly head.  But where are United Methodist clergy?  They are cowed by fears of criticism or a decrease in the offering plate.

In the meantime, silence still equals death.

Many annual conferences are yet to be held this summer, including the Florida Annual Conference.  It is time for The United Methodist Church to speak out against the homophobia that it has propped up through its exclusionary policies.  Rules have integrity only as long as they reflect the moral values of the community.  Today, in the face of such rampant violence, bans on marriage and ordination are nothing short of immoral.

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As an independent voice of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer people, Affirmation: United Methodists radically reclaims the compassionate and transforming gospel of Jesus Christ by relentlessly pursuing full inclusion in the Church as we journey with the Spirit in creating God’s beloved community.

Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns is an activist, all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization with no official ties to The United Methodist Church.

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