I insist that there were at least a dozen other people, like myself, who did not have a clear picture of what happened at the Pulse nightclub massacre until this morning. Notifications popped up on my phone that people I was actually unaware lived in Orlando were “checking in” as ok. News notifications popped up saying that they knew nothing or contradicting what had just been said in previous notifications. Stories about multiple gunmen wounding a dozen people gave way to one gunman killing a couple dozen. Donald Trump apparently said something, and the motivations for the killings were unclear.
Near some fetid swamp and Disneyland, a description of the whole of Orlando, a man slaughtered people he did not know for reasons that sound alien when I read them aloud from news stories. The hundred people who were gunned down were not engaged in anything profound or particularly worthy. They were doing things a lot like what was distracting me from the news of their plight. There was nothing more subtle in my tasting the flavors of a meal I had just bought on the tongue of the acquaintance I had bought it for; is that Sriracha, and was there even Sriracha on the table? These are not questions whose answers will shake the world, but what other questions are worth asking when eyes sparkle and smiles melt together.
The morning’s news was already full of spin about the motivations, and I learned all the petty justifications for not thinking this or that had anything to do with the reasons behind the horrific realities of the massacre. I read that it was homophobia, but not religious. I learned that it was not due to ISIS despite some declaration because of something. Donald Trump had said something. Whacky, and not in a good way, Christian pastors were declaring some harsher judgement on the victims than the perpetrator.
The confusion was all too familiar, and in the coming weeks we will surely see older cars plastered with stickers proclaiming this event to have been staged as false flag theater to promote the gay agenda. Donald Trump will say something. We will be told over, and over, and over that this has nothing to do with Islam and that most Muslims do not shoot up nightclubs.
Islamic scripture unambiguously calls for killing homosexuals, and many Islamic states regularly execute people for the crime of engaging in homosexual activity (“kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.”). Homosexual acts are not the only activities requiring harsh sentences. Applying the rules of the Quran (and more specific supporting scripture) to American society would be impossibly damaging. American Muslims have begun the process of secularizing their belief system in ways that make incorporation possible. The scripture may require the killing of homosexuals, but “we don’t actually do that” is the method of living the scriptural teachings.
It is VERY good that there is a moderating movement amongst the vast majority of the millions of Muslims in America. Christians have, for the most part, grown out of the extremely punitive interpretations of their scripture, while mostly maintaining that they have not fundamentally changed the way scripture works in their lives; Muslims should be able to do the same.
Most people have an internal moral compass that prevents them from going out and killing people. They have this regardless of what their religion says they should do. Can we blame the religion when someone without a working sense of right and wrong does something horrific in part because they find justification in the scripture of their religion? I think we have to!
Discarding bits of obsolete mythology of imaginary beings is not hard. There is no reason to keep it. There is no reason to give lip service to a religion’s innocence when it refuses to expunge those parts that explicitly call for actions that resonate with the motivation behind an atrocity like the Pulse nightclub massacre.
We can enthusiastically agree, as a culture of actual humans, that murdering people en masse for trivial actions, like trying to chisel companionship out of mutual attraction, is just wrong. This is a guiding principal. Any scripture or teaching that muddies the water or contradict this clear idea is just wrong as well. A religion that upholds a scripture that explicitly calls for hating and killing people for reasons innocuous to any reasoned human does not get a “pass” because most of their adherents are actually not out killing folks; it is just wrong.
Stop the hate.
Stop the killing.
Pull down the walls of the temple that protects the words of hate.