Like you, I’ve heard the news that a terrorist acting in allegiance with ISIS committed an unspeakably evil act of terror targeting Orlando’s LGBT community. I grieve with you for the people who lost their lives or who were hurt in the attack. When a religion is misused, it is the responsibility of the religious community, and especially its leaders, to speak out against the misuse of their religion and condemn the unlawful behaviour.
Although this massacre was not committed by a Christian, as a Christian leader I want to take this opportunity to state very clearly to the general public three declarations which I believe every Christian denomination in Canada would affirm:
- First, all human beings are made in the image of God and are my brothers and sisters. We are one human family.
- This includes those of other faiths and no faith, those with whom I am in complete agreement and those with whom I have significant disagreements.
- Specifically, it includes all members of any community with a non-traditional expression of human sexuality.
- Second, acts of violence or coercion are completely incompatible with the Christian faith. Christians cannot further the Christian mission through use of force, because our faith is based on a change of heart, which is a spiritual matter.
- Third, Christians are called to express God’s love for all humanity. Hatred is therefore a grievous sin. We live in a broken world, in which there is much to disagree with. People exploit other people, cause war, and do all kinds of bad things. Christians acknowledge that we are all broken in some way, including every Christian, including me, yet in our brokenness our role as Christians is to bring healing and hope into people’s lives, to help them progress towards the fulfillment of God’s desire for them.
There is much to be said in terms of the theology that supports these three declarations, but that is for another time. Today I want to condemn violence in all forms, but especially violence that is motivated by a misguided understanding of a religion or of a secular ideology.
May God bring peace and solace to the families of the victims of the Orlando massacre. All humanity has suffered a loss with the murder of ordinary people who were simply living their daily lives.
Note: Barry Bussey has also written for CCCC on this horrible event.