George Payne, a freelance writer, speaks about his frustration and horror over the homophobia and hate speech that has arisen in the wake of the Orlando shooting. Calling out pastors and preachers – and other religious faith leaders – who promote violence and hatred, he calls such dogma ‘corruption of religion’. In our longterm work to promote nonviolence, Pace e Bene has worked with thousands of faith leaders who exemplify the messages of compassion, respect, equality and justice that are central to the tenets of their faith. As George points out in his article, the preaching of hate and violence is a disservice to the dedicated efforts of people of faith, and contrary to the principles of love that can be found in all faiths.
By George Payne
The only difference between a self proclaimed Christian pastor who condones the massacre in Orlando and a self proclaimed Jihadist who actually carries out the ambush, is that one uses the Bible to justify their violence while the other uses the Qur’an.
The self proclaimed Christian pastor may not pursue their victims with the same warrior vengeance as the self proclaimed Jihadist-although this is not always the case- they still harbor the same vile feelings inside their hearts and are guilty of sanctioning these acts through their hate filled sermons. In captured video footage all over YouTube, it can be seen how many of these self proclaimed Christian pastors have no problem whatsoever saying that more people should have died in that night club.
If given a free pass from law enforcement and tolerated by an indifferent society, these ministers of destruction would easily authorize their foot soldiers to shoot up every LGBTQ bar, restaurant, night club, gym, art gallery, school, and even church in America. If allowed to use assault rifles on these sexual infidels- without getting shamed or prosecuted- they would choose a much larger and more lethal weapon to enforce God’s righteousness than a mere AR-15.
Truth be told, these self proclaimed Christian pastors authorize such killings nearly every single Sunday when they preach justified warfare from the pulpit. In the sacred name of Christian democracy and the holy commandments of capitalism, they pray for our soldiers, place offerings in their coffers, pump fuel in their tanks, and promise that they are on a mission from God. But what if they are not on a mission from God? What if they are just on a mission from their government or even just their hometown church?
Is it wrong to ask why we use words like “mass killing” to describe the horror of San Bernadino and Orlando but never use this language to describe 207 Pakistani children killed in drone strikes since 2004? According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the total number of civilians killed in Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan exceeds 1,200. The number of injured civilians in these countries exceeds 4,000. Why do we call the slaughter of innocent civilians in American led wars “operations” but call acts of individual rampage in an Orlando nightclub a mass killing? As far as I can tell, the only difference between one attack and the other is the size of the guns used and the color of the flag sewn on the uniform of the person who squeezed the trigger. In both cases the individual victims matter very little: all that really matters is their symbolic worth as representations of purity, evil, communism, capitalism, terrorism, imperialism, heathenism and barbarism. Apparently collateral damage is necessary in a battle to preserve the highest ideals of humanity.
Naturally, I am already anticipating the backlash which I will face for speaking my unfiltered truth. So be it. I really do not care if people find what I have to say offensive. I find terrorism offensive. I find hatred of homosexuals and people of different sexual orientations to be offensive. I find disgracing the Prophet’s compassion to be offensive. I find Just War Theory to be offensive. I find violence against children to be offensive. I find assault rifles and drones to be offensive.
Whether you claim to be with ISIS or some other God fearing church on the corner of Main Street, if hate is pouring forth from your sanctuary, I find your corruption of religion to be offensive.
What else can I say? Killing innocent children with hellfire missiles in Pakistan is no less a sin than the hate crime Omar Mateen committed in Orlando. Either we stop justifying all warfare or we accept the consequences of war completely.
George Payne is a free lance writer, photographer and photojournalist based in Rochester, NY. In 2014 he founded Gandhi Earth Keepers International, a social justice network for activists and teachers devoted to environmentalism. He also teaches Philosophy at Finger Lakes Community College and serves on the board of The Interfaith Alliance of Rochester.
Photo Credit: By Exploringlife