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Responses to Orlando


June 14, 2016

Responses to Orlando

Artwork by Meg Hess


Cuando Nuestros Santuarios Son Desacrados / When Our Sanctuaries Are Desecrated

from Rev. J. Manny Santiago

Hace unos años atrás me encontraba en Seattle, sirviendo una congregación que reflejaba mucho la realidad de la ciudad: blanca, clase media, extremadamente progresista en su pensamiento pero con una falta de entendimiento de las realidades de las personas de minoría étnica.

Mientras estaba allí era evidente que la congregación no iba a llegar a ser mi santuario.

Cada domingo recibía comentarios sobre mi acento, mis vestimentas, mis movimientos de manos, mi concepto del tiempo… Cada domingo, el lugar que se suponía era mi santuario se convertía en un lugar de juicio y opresión. Esta es la realidad de la interseccionalidad: mientras algunos aspectos de nuestras identidades serán aceptados, otros serán ignorados o juzgados.

Lee en Español...

A few years ago I found myself in Seattle, serving a congregation that very much reflected the reality of the city: white, middle-class, extremely progressive in their thinking, but with a lack of actual real life understanding of the realities of people of color.

While there, it became evident that this congregation was not going to become my sanctuary.

Every Sunday I would get comments on my accent, my choice of clothing, my hand gestures, my concept of time… Every Sunday, the place that was supposed to be my sanctuary became a place of judgement and oppression. This is the reality of intersectionality: while some aspects of our identities would be accepted, others are ignored or judged. 

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Responses to the Orlando Tragedy from the Muslim Community

from various sources

Statements and articles from Islamic religious leaders, groups, and other members of the Muslim community showing support for the LGBTQ community in the aftermath of the tragedy in Orlando, Florida.

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An Attack on Holiness

from Rev. LeDayne McLeese Polaski

In Orlando, lives created in God’s own image have been lost and shattered in a place of sanctuary in a holy month.

On April 19, 1995, my husband picked me up from an all-day event. In those days before most of us owned a laptop or a cell phone, being in an all-day event meant that I hadn’t heard any news since he’d dropped me off early that morning. Our conversation as I stepped into the car went something like this:

“There was a bombing today in Oklahoma City.”

“Really? What are we going to do for dinner?”

For a moment, overwhelmed by the horror of something so awful happening in a place so ordinary, I closed my heart to the news. I refused to take it in.

Later, of course, I watched the news, I read the stories, I saw children’s art depicting bloody footprints walking away from the building, and for many days, I wept, my heart broken open.

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Alliance of Baptists Grieving with Orlando

from the Alliance of Baptists

The Alliance of Baptists expresses our profound sadness and cries out in lament in response to the tragic shooting in Orlando. We are horrified yet once again by a mass shooting and an act of domestic terror.

We offer our prayers of care and support for all the families and friends of the ones who have been senselessly murdered and traumatically affected by this heinous act.

We offer our best sense of God, rooted in our followership of Jesus, and expressed across the world's enduring religions, that God is love and that God's love embraces all with great care and compassion.

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Orlando: A Pastoral Response from a Gay Latino Priest

from Padre Ángel Marrero (originally published in Huffpost Religion Blog)

On Sunday, we woke up to the unspeakable horror of the most devastating mass shooting in the history of our country. For the past day, I have sat silently with my husband at home, crying in the face of the impotence of a world that, despite our social progress, still hates us.

In the midst of all this, I believe that Christian clergy in particular need to face an important reality: the church has blood on its hands. From our pulpits, and in our traditions, we have been complicit in fostering the sins of misogyny, sexism, racism, and homophobia. We are responsible for tolerating in our midst a poor, ignorant and murderous scriptural interpretation that leads to death and untold suffering. As a religious leader in the Boston-Metro Latino community, I cannot remain silent about this.

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A Response to the Orlando Massacre

from the RevGalBlogPals Leadership

The Officers, Board members and Executive Director of RevGalBlogPals recognize that the LGBTQI community was gathered at Pulse in Orlando because it was a place where they found the support, joy, and love that was denied to them in many other social places, including in the church. In the midst of celebrating life and love, these children of God were massacred by a person with a gun. The motives were horrific. The ability to kill so many so quickly is horrific. The reality of so many dead and wounded is horrific, especially in a community with so few places for safety and security.

Lamentation does not seem a strong enough word. We have lamented, sighed, screamed, and wept. The reality that children of God were slain because of the gift of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or, perhaps, their Latinx heritage or appreciation is abhorrent and far from what we know to be God’s desire for love in the world.

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A Letter from the Catalyst Project

from Isaac Lev Szmonko on behalf of Catalyst Project

Yesterday morning I checked the news groggy-eyed and learned of the massacre in Orlando at  ‘Latin Night’ at the Pulse gay club. The grief is overwhelming. I find myself unexpectedly in and out of tears.

Queer space is sacred. We owe the fact that there is space for us to go seek community, joy, pleasure, desire, family and justice to generations of freedom fighters. To the ACT UP warriors and the dyke caretakers who fought for queer safety and survival while most of the world did not care as a generation died of AIDS. To people like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy and other unsung transgender women of color who fought the police at Stonewall and continued fighting for the right to live with dignity, power and safety. To James Baldwin and Audre Lorde and Bayard Rustin. To the queer and trans leaders of Black Lives Matter and many other movements carrying the torch today. To so many whose names we will never know because they have been intentionally erased from our history.

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American Baptist Home Mission Societies Stands with LGBTQ Community in Wake of Orlando Massacre

from American Baptist Home Mission Societies

As investigation into the unspeakable violence in Orlando has deepened in the past week, initial grief and shock at the senseless loss of human life has given way to troubling news about the assailant and the nature of the violence at Pulse nightclub.

This hate crime related to members of the LGBTQ community, as the massacre is now understood, compels American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) to stand in solidarity with the Orlando victims and their families and friends.

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We Have a Love Crisis in this Country

from Paul Raushenbush (originally from

Devastation. Desolations. Grief. At least 50 heartbeats that will never revive. Their beautiful lives now merely ammunition, wood to fuel a destructive fire of recriminations, division and hatred that will consume our nation.

We have a love crisis in our country. Our heart isn’t beating right. Our arteries clogged with clots of distrust and hate. The devil smiles as tears scald, burn, and slice. Queer lives are vanquished and points are scored. We have a love crisis in this country. It is a scarce commodity.

How hard it is to follow the mandate of love today, how corrosive and tempting the call of fear and hate and revenge. But on this day, as hard as it is, I will cling to the mandate to love because I have no other choice.

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Religious Institute Statement on Shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida

from the Religious Institute

Our hearts break for the victims of the shooting at “Latin Night” at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida on the morning of June 12, 2016, and for their families and friends. We stand in solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community in Orlando and with all who are affected by this horrific act of violence. Sadly, this act is part of a larger culture of hostility toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people whose lives are under attack every day in this country and throughout the world.

Our religious traditions teach us to love one another. It is a testament to the best of humanity that there is already an outpouring of support for the wounded and the dead. It is a testament to the brokenness of humanity that these deaths happened at all. Let us not contribute to that brokenness by scapegoating the religious tradition of Islam.

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Interfaith Coalition of Faith Leaders Mourn and Condemn Tragic Shooting in Orlando, Florida

from Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence

Along with communities of faith and Americans across the nation, we mourn the tragic loss of life yesterday at a safe haven for the LGBT community in Orlando, Florida. This targeted act committed against innocent people is a painful reminder that we live in a nation where guns outnumber people and where our chief legislative body is ruled by the gun lobby.

All people deserve to live free from fear that we or our loved ones will fall victim to gunfire when we attend our places of worship, go see a movie, attend school or celebrate love and life in whatever setting we choose. Unfortunately, that is not the reality in our nation today. 

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ICNY Statement on Orlando Massacre

from the Interfaith Center of New York

The Interfaith Center of New York stands in solidarity with the families of the victims of the Orlando Massacre and LGBT communities in Florida and around the country. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who responded heroically to the mayhem: EMT’s, Fire Fighters, Police, and fellow citizens. We condemn this horrific act of mass murder and ISIS’ barbaric ideology that may have helped inspire it.

Echoing the President’s words that, “In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another,” we call on our political leaders and public officials to restrain any impulses to fan the flames of prejudice and hatred. We recognize that hate is not the answer to hate, nor is Islamophobia the answer to homophobia.

CSGV Statement on Orlando Nightclub Shooting

from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

At approximately 2:00 am Sunday morning, an armed gunman entered the Pulse Orlando Night Club & Ultra Lounge -a prominent LGBT bar in Orlando – and opened fire on the club goers with a high-capacity weapon and handgun. The gunman took hostages in the nightclub before authorities from the Orlando Police Department entered and killed the suspected assailant. The mass killing resulted in fifty people dead and fifty-three transported to a nearby hospital with injuries, making it the worst mass shooting in America’s history.

“The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s board, members, and employees, are devastated at the horror that resulted from this tragedy,” stated Executive Director Josh Horwitz. “Our thoughts are with the families, the Orlando community, and the entire state of Florida.”

Over the coming hours and days we will learn more about the shooter and his possible motives. What we do know is that, once again, an angry young man had easy access to guns and used those guns to kill dozens of innocent people.

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Remarks by the President of the United States on Mass Shooting in Orlando

from US President Barack Obama and James S. Brady (Press Briefing Room)

Today, as Americans, we grieve the brutal murder -- a horrific massacre -- of dozens of innocent people. We pray for their families, who are grasping for answers with broken hearts. We stand with the people of Orlando, who have endured a terrible attack on their city. Although it’s still early in the investigation, we know enough to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate. And as Americans, we are united in grief, in outrage, and in resolve to defend our people.

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Sacred Geography: A Queer Latino Theological Response to Orlando

from Vincent Cervantes (originally published on

“Oh my God, it was Latin Night,” I said to myself as I lay in bed on Sunday morning, reading the news about the Orlando shooting on my phone.

In the wake of the tragedy, I have found myself mostly at a loss for words, stuttering between anger and sadness. I can not fully describe what I was feeling and thinking that morning as I was getting ready to head over to the LA Pride parade—even as news came in of an arrest in Santa Monica, earlier in the day, of a heavily armed man who was supposedly en route to the Pride event in West Hollywood.

As I watched the Los Angeles SWAT team and armored vehicles cruising up and down the LA Pride parade route a couple hours later, my heart broke and my body ached. I walked along the route and saw the same anti-gay protestors who show up every year. Yesterday, they were behind two sets of barriers with a squad of SWAT officers next to them. And as I stood across from them, listening to their loud condemnations, I felt worried. Not for myself. Not even for them. But for the spirit of our community.

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After Orlando, The Struggle Against Hate Continues

from Michael Heflin (originally published on

On Sunday, around the same time that LGBTI rights activists marched peacefully down the streets of Kyiv for their annual pride celebration and half a world away, a lone gunman entered a popular LGBTI nightclub in Orlando, Florida. After reportedly pledging allegiance to the Islamic State, he opened fire, killing at least 49 people and injuring dozens more before being killed by police.

The Kyiv Pride march was the first in that city to be held successfully. Last year’s event had barely started when it was abruptly called off after parade goers were attacked by members of a far-right organization. This year, police preemptively sealed off a 10-block area in the city in response to threats of a “bloody mess.”

Taken together, the events in Kyiv and Orlando demonstrate the horrific hatred and violence LGBTI people continue to face in much of the world today. In many countries, they are criminalized, imprisoned, tortured, and even executed. Even in countries where rights protections exist, LGBTI people are still shunned by family and friends, denied housing and employment, and attacked, both emotionally and physically.

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Hate Crime vs. Terrorism: How Our Language Highlights or Disguises Violence

from Ken Sehested, BPFNA Founding Director

One of the public accounting tugs-of-war (still unfolding) in reporting and responding to the Orlando massacre is whether terrorism or homophobia was Omar Mateen’s principal motivation. Our nation’s political fracture was highlighted in the responses of political leaders, almost all Republicans naming the former, most Democrats the latter.

This differentiation in our speech—hate vs. terror—is one of the ways our language allows us to prioritize harm, assigning greater or lesser degrees of menace. Hate crimes are mostly what we do to ourselves; terrorism is what outsiders do to us. In our national narrative, the latter is by far considered more threatening.

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To a Place of Celebration

EBENEZER D  ("Why Do Nations Rage Together")

A hymn from Carolyn Winfrey Gillette (Carolyn gives permission for free use of the hymn by local congregation and ecumenical services. Please email us at [email protected] if you would like the hymn in MS Word for a worship bulletin insert and/or as a PDF with the hymn text and music. Please share this new hymn with others who might want it for a mid-week vigil and/or Sunday morning worship service.)

To a place of celebration filled with laughter, dancing, joy,
Came such violent devastation— one man’s efforts to destroy.
God, we grieve for loved ones taken; we lament, “What can we do?”
Now, we’re feeling lost and shaken; heal our nation! Make us new!

Weapons kill— and so does silence; hear our prayer as we confess:
We have given in to violence, we have bowed to hopelessness.
God, we’ve lost our sense of vision of a world where there will be
Plowshares made from violent weapons, justice in society.

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A Prayer and Litany for Global Justice and Peace

from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference

Leader: In the Spirit of God and Ubuntu, we pray for the strength of heart and mind to look beyond ourselves and address the needs of our brothers and sisters throughout this nation and the world.

Assembly: God of generosity and compassion,
Hear our prayer.

Leader: We pray for all the children and families who have been victims of the senseless gun violence in America and violence and war throughout the world; we share in the burden of their mourning.

Assembly: God of comfort and healing,
Hear our prayer.

Leader: We pray that the Holy Spirit may embrace the most vulnerable members of our society; the sick, the aged and the infirm; refugees, and pilgrims in our midst. We pray also for an end to the growing disparity between the rich and poor; and for the grace and courage to strive for economic justice.

Assembly: God of all gifts and blessings,
Hear our prayer. 

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A Prayer for Orlando

from The United Church of Granville -- Granville, OH

O Source and Body of all Love,
We stand here stunned
at the harm that humans can inflict upon one another
And we mourn with all those who mourn.
We think of all mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers,
friends and neighbors and spouses and partners
who have suffered losses too deep for words.
We think of a nation reeling
in the face of problems we seem so unable to solve.
Lead us all in the ways of community and truth.

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Congregational Resources after the Orlando Shooting

from the Alliance of Baptists

A collection of resources for churches and others to use as aids in worship and however anyone might need. Please use and share.

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CSGV Urges You to Call Your Representatives!

from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

Enough is enough.

We have been receiving a constant stream of phone calls and emails from supporters like you, asking what they can do to make change after this unthinkable tragedy. Now is the time to make our voices heard with a U.S. Congress that has failed to act after similar shootings.

Please call the U.S. Capitol Hotline today at (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak to your U.S. Representative and your two U.S. Senators. Tell them you want to see immediate votes on the following pieces of legislation:

  • S. 551/ H.R. 1076, which would prevent individuals on the Terrorist Watch List from purchasing and owning firearms.
  • S. 2934/H.R. 3411, which would require that background checks be conducted on all private sales of firearms.
  • H.R. 4269, which would renew and strengthen the federal Assault Weapons Ban, which was in place from 1994-2004.

If you don't know who your Representative and Senators are, click here to find out.

Please make your calls today! We can't afford to wait to act. These horrors will continue until gun reforms are enacted into law.

We must push this Congress to take immediate action. Make it clear to them that gun violence prevention is a voting issue for you and you will no longer take no for an answer!

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