At the root of the massacre in Orlando is religion. We struggle to admit that because we seem not to know that our holy texts provide theological justification for such violence. Recognizing this is especially difficult because we’ve largely created 21st century versions of our faiths; versions which omit sacred texts unpalatable to our 2016 tastes. It is a faith in which Muslims preach the virtues of Islam but pretend the Quran doesn’t specify crucifixion as one of the only punishments permitted for enemies of Islam (Quran 5:33). It is a faith, for Christians, which highlights the liberating power of the gospel while ignoring Torah’s imperative to execute gays (Leviticus 20:13) or Paul’s command that women be silent, not have authority over men or teach (1 Timothy 2:11-12).
Between January 2014 and October 2015 nearly 19,000 civilians were killed in Iraq, according to a United Nations report. Another 36,000 were wounded and 3.2 million were internally displaced, including one million school aged children. None of this screams peace and brotherhood.
I’m angry. Tragedy has touched Paris and now Mali this week but I must confess that the root of my anger is not those attacks. I’m angry because international terror now directly impacts me. I work, more or less, across the street from the White House: the newest target announced by Isis. Daily, I take a subway train into work, mindful that the subways in London, Tokyo and Madrid have all been attacked in my lifetime. This is real for me and I’m angry about it.