Today I have a guest column in the Aberdeen Press and Journal, commenting on the tragic murder of 49 people in and LGBT hate crime at the weekend. For those of you not in the North and North East, I thought I'd post it below. It charts the responsibility we all have to see how we can diminish a culture of homophobia in our communities.
"No Excuse for this Murder
I was lying on my sick bed feeling sorry for myself, when one of those awful moments struck – shocking news of a tragedy somewhere else in the world that suddenly puts your own worries into stark perspective. The TV screen was emblazoned with pictures of Orlando and the normally Sunshine State, but this time with the dark horror of 50 people murdered in a nightclub, in an act of terror.
As the story crept out over the news bulletins, it turns out that this - the largest mass shooting in US history - is also a hate crime, targeting an LGBT nightclub, apparently following the sight of two men in love sharing a kiss. Young people enjoying life, but shot down in a moment of calculated viciousness; murdered because of whom they love, and for their audacity in being open about it.
I couldn’t help but think how depressing it was that another atrocity should be committed by a person of faith. What message does this send out to the world about the nature of God?
Here is the really uncomfortable truth. It is not only lax gun laws that lead to violence. Bad theology can also play a part – whether it’s Christian, Hindu, Islamic or other beliefs about God that demonise and single people out, because of their difference. Gay, Straight, Black, White, Foreigner - the list goes on. Populate your own.
It is too easy only to focus on others - but those of us in Churches also have a particular responsibility to bear in our historic treatment of LGB and T people. Too frequently the excuses we make for our own discrimination and prejudice, all the while denying our complicity in them, helps feed this culture of homophobia that tragically others take to the extreme – and which results in misery, suffering and violence.
The truth is this: there is no excuse for any of it – especially not in the name of God.