Last week was rough. Several bikers were tragically killed in a car accident in my community. The worst mass shooting in American history has left our country reeling, and has the perfect storm of hot button issues connected to it to cause massive amounts of bigotry, finger pointing and Facebook fights.
It seems religion has become one target in the aftermath of the attack in Orlando. While some have been quick to decry any inclination to tie this attack to Islam, others have been quick to point a finger at Christian religions still not supporting the LGBT community as a potential factor, pointing out hatred and violence committed against LGBT individuals by self-proclaimed Christians.
In one breath we demand differentiation between Islam and radical Islam, yet in the next we group all Christian denominations together and tie any crime committed in the name of Christianity as condoned by the faith.
I cannot speak for other Christian denominations, but I can speak for mine. The Catholic faith has never taught violence or prejudice to be acceptable. In fact, one of the most prominent teachings of Jesus Christ is to never judge another. Never. Our role is not to walk around as if we have everything figured out, as if we are perfect and everyone else needs to get on our level. Our role is simply to love our neighbors as ourselves, to give mercy freely and ask for it in return, and to spread the good news.
The tragic terrorist attack in Orlando has brought out haters of a common phrase among Christians, “hate the sin, not the sinner”. I’ve seen several discussions of how this idea does nothing but breed hate and cause violence. I’ve seen several calls for this phrase to be done with and for a full acceptance of all things LGBT.
I think they are missing the point. I think they are being as narrow-minded and intolerant as they claim Christians are. And I think they are judging Christianity based on the actions of a few misguided, troubled extremists – exactly what they are asking us not to do of our Muslim brothers and sisters.
Being a Catholic is as much a part of my identity (if not more) as being part of or supportive of the LGBT is for many people. It is attached to my innermost being. Telling me to ignore my conscience, ignore my faith and its teachings, and accept their life decisions as perfectly acceptable and good is not being tolerant of my beliefs.
Being tolerant means accepting we are a diverse nation made up of several different belief systems. It means working to find a peaceful coexistence where we function side by side, not working to stamp out those who disagree with you. Calling for Christians to renounce their beliefs is as intolerant as Christians telling gays to stop being gay. We have lost sight of our roles. Love one another, be merciful, and proclaim the good news.
I will continue to hate the sin, not the sinner, because my faith is a faith of love and guidance, of peace and charity. Those who corrupt it, twisting it into a faith of hatred, bigotry and violence are extremists and are manipulating what is all good and all beautiful into something evil and dark. That is not my faith. It’s time for the prejudice against Christians to stop. It is time for the prejudice against Muslims to stop. It is time for prejudice to stop.
Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.