by Connie Ryan
Executive Director, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa
The Des Moines Register Iowa View, June 16, 2016
It’s so complicated. Issues intertwined to a point that none are distinct. Hate, violence, homophobia, bigotry, discrimination, Islamaphobia, guns. Responses of grief, anger, prayers, marches, pundits pontificating, politicians urgently tweeting hate. How do we sort through it all? It is overwhelming and so complicated.
Some in the faith community shoulder much of the blame for creating an environment that allows a man to walk into a nightclub and gun down scores of people simply because he has become enraged over their sexual orientation or gender identity. All in the faith community have a responsibility to name this hate and repudiate the violence. All in the faith community must stand shoulder to shoulder as ally, friend, comrade to the LGBTQIA community to stop this craziness. Words matter, as do actions.
Politicians that build their brand on hateful statements also bear responsibility. As do the political leaders and citizens that stand silent or cheer on the divisiveness as if it is a political game. Only it is not a game, is it? Games do not result in lives lost and communities terrified.
Orlando was not about Islam or people who are Muslim. Those who push all people of one religion into an extremist corner are misguided and do great harm to our nation’s freedoms. We know by experience that extremism and hate can germinate and fester in a person of any faith, or no faith. We know by experience that extremism is not about the actual faith or belief system, but is a warped worldview that lives out with twisted and devastating results.
Orlando was about hate and violence against the LGBTQIA community. It is about extremism. It is about the ability to walk into a gun store and walk out with a military-style assault rifle with less accountability than it is when someone is tracked for buying Sudafed or driving a moped. It is about our nation as a whole and the eagerness of some to perpetuate a culture of hate and their skill at diverting our attention with red herrings and excuses.
It seems so complicated, but really it is not. It is time for those who believe in love, cherish diversity, understand the worth of every person, and believe in the promise of our nation to stop the hate. People of all faiths and people of no faith standing together against hate speech, violence, bigotry and discrimination toward people who are LGBTQIA, Muslim and every other group with a target on their back. People of faith and no faith must build a wall against words and actions that do harm to others and serve only to divide us as a nation.
It is time to stand tall and speak clearly against hate, violence and bigotry. On social media, at work or school, in the grocery store, and at home. We need your voice, your passion and your resolve.
It is not complicated. It is time.