The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA was shocked and saddened by news of the largest mass shooting in our country’s history. We deplore gun violence, hate crimes, and terrorism in all their manifestations.
All of these forms of violence insidiously came together in this incident — a lone shooter using an assault weapon and professing his affinity with ISIS targeted the LGBTQ community — which resulted in the death of 49 people and the injury of 53 more. We mourn the dead, stand with the survivors, and grieve with the victims’ families. We also pray for a speedy recovery of the wounded, for the healing of the Orlando community, and for the well-being of our country after this assault on our cherished values.
It is not lost on us that the shooter was a Muslim, and some may wrongly seek to label Muslims as violent people generally. Apparently known not to be particularly religious, reports indicate that he was both mentally unstable and swayed by the kind of hate that is antithetical to genuine faith. Indeed, no person of faith can carry out such an act of violence and claim authentically to do so in the name of their faith. Our Muslim friends share this same conviction.
We are grateful for the heroic efforts of police and other first responders that saved lives. And we reiterate our call for sensible gun control laws that, among other limitations, will keep military-grade weapons out of the hands of private citizens.
While this shooting specifically targeted the LGBTQ community, it also targeted our entire society, which boldly affirms that people with different beliefs, perspectives, and backgrounds can come together to build a strong and vibrant nation. When the inability to deal with difference yields to violence, it is not only a step backward in terms of civilized social engagement, it reveals the difference between the values we promote and the ideology promoted by those who seek to destroy. We therefore join together with our neighbors across the country to affirm and reaffirm yet again all that we hold dear.