Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Two Christian Responses to the Orlando Shooting

One from Pope Francis.   One from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America.

Note that the statement by Pope Francis is not much different than similar statements by various Catholic leaders across the board.  Beyond the obvious call for prayers and comfort for  those afflicted, he clearly places the bulk of the responsibility of  the shootings at the foot of gun availability and calls for it to be checked in order to prevent further violence.  While I don't think he is limiting the charge to guns in the US, he focuses only on that one problem by name, and avoids use of the word terror at all.

The Greek Archdiocese, on the other hand, lashes out directly at terror more than once.  While also praying and seeking to console, it leaves no doubt where it places the responsibility for the carnage.

Here's my thing.  The Pope, almost every major Catholic leader, and a bulk of American Protestant leaders, all have pretty much responded the same way.  Prayers.  Help for the victims and their loved ones.  Pray for peace.  And almost no mention of terrorism, much less Islam or Islamic terrorism.  Not that they haven't been shy about casting blame.  Some, such as Bishop Lynn, have joined Pope Francis in focusing on guns.  Some, like Bishop Lynn, have made it about homophobic bigotry, religious bigots, and racism in America.

And yet they all have something in common with me.  None of us (that I know) have lived under the dominion of Islamic culture.  For us, Muslims are a barely noticeable minority who currently wield almost no significant power or influence in our culture, at least on an official level.  I can't help but notice that the one public statement I found that actually avoids the "homophobic religious gun nut American racist" template happened to be linked to the one Christian tradition that hasn't enjoyed ministering to the top of the most powerful cultural empire in world history.  Rather, its history is one of subjugation and oppression by the same Islamic culture that none of the others want to discuss.

Call me silly, but if I hear rumors that there is a really horrible, violent household in the neighborhood, I'll ask people who are next door to the house to find out if they're true.  I won't ask people who live on the other side of town to see what they know.  If I'm really plucky, I might try to ask people who live in the actual house what is going on.  If the people on the other side of town just wave their hands and dismiss the rumors as some form of grudge against the family or the neighborhood, but those living closest speak of all manner of screams and violence from within the house, who do you think I'll be inclined to believe?  Who would common sense and prudence suggest I believe?

Yeah, exactly.  Not that the Archdiocese doesn't have views on gun control or immigration.  Most Orthodox Christians I know are against any sweeping immigration bans.  And it isn't a huge difference, the inclusion of a single word.  But I can't help but feel in my gut that it's a significant difference.  Out of the gate, a strong condemnation of terrorism by a tradition from a completely different relationship to Islam, when so many others seemed to go to great pains to avoid the term, or accept narratives that seem to contradict the actual events, has to get your attention.

CORRECTION!  It looks like the basic prayer release of Pope Francis did not mention guns.  The Vatican apparently added guns to the list at a later time.  So my bad on that.  Though the piece itself, apart from that, still stands.  But please note, Pope Francis himself did not bring up the gun issue in his initial prayerful response.  My bad on that.


  1. I had read the Pope's response earlier and then read it 3 more times and I think your reading something into his statement that isn't there.

  2. That's my point. I'm reading what isn't there. Mention guns all you want, but don't miss the obvious. Again, the fact I can't help but notice is that those Christians, including ones I know, who are from the Middle East seem much more prepared to say at least 'Terrorism' or 'Terrorist attack.' Calling on God to eradicate terrorism and such. That is a difference I can't help but notice.

  3. I am saying he didn't say anything at least in the linked article about gun availablity

  4. Ah, I get you. You're right. It was a later statement. Point taken.


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