Religious institutions should speak up against hate crimes

Moral integrity demands outspokenness, and the silence in the face of this variant of evil undercuts claims to morality advocacy.

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Mourners at a memorial outside of Club Q on November 22 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A gunman opened fire inside the LGBTQ+ club on November 19th, killing 5 and injuring 25 others.

Mourners at a memorial outside of Club Q on November 22 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A gunman opened fire inside the LGBTQ+ club on November 19th, killing 5 and injuring 25 others.

Chet Strange/Getty Images

The mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs prompts a long overdue question to America’s clergy, especially as to Christianity, its dominant faith.

In our society, nightclubs provide the LGBT community with otherwise nonexistent public venues to socialize and enjoy human interaction. They also are magnets for shooters undergoing personal crises who choose gays as hate objects. All such shootings are capital hate crimes, immoral on their face, violating the First Commandment: “Thou shall not kill.”

In every case, the unasked question becomes this: As self-appointed guardians of morality and as spokespersons for your faith, why has organized religion not spoken out in the name of common human brotherhood, advocating for the sanctity of all life, be it a school shooting or a gay club shooting?

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All are abhorrent and deserve denunciation as moral wrongs, not just crimes. There have been many other tragic cases like Club Q where that official silence has likewise been confounding and, one would think, egregiously embarrassing to people of goodwill, many of whom are members of your faith, who abhor such hate-focused shootings, period.

Here’s the rub: Religious doctrine says we are all God’s creatures, made in His image. Yet at such times the silence of organized religion says the opposite. As to human sexuality, among every 100,000 newborns, a small percentage consistently turns out to be non-binary, i.e., different from the majority ranked as normal. Most of us are born attracted to the opposite sex, but through the ages, a small percentage is born attracted to those of the same sex, while fewer others may be bisexual.

That’s the ongoing reality. It is not a choice; it is the result of God’s lottery, fixed for life, like talent or intellect, over which none of us has any control. Straights can’t be made gay; gays can’t be made straight. To think otherwise is to argue with God, as said religious doctrine defines God as the all-knowing and all-powerful giver and taker of life. No other options apply.

As a group, said religious institutions were fecklessly silent as to the wrongs of slavery. They were silent during the worst era of lynchings that swept the South. They were silent before, during and after the Holocaust as antisemitism peaked under Nazi domination.

The time is overdue to ask of self-described and self-appointed arbiters of morality: How do organized religions explain this silence? If God has a plan, who are we to ignore or reject certain parts? The inconsistency confounds logic. Simply put, either we are all made “in His image” and deserve equal advocacy, or we are not. Moral integrity demands outspokenness, and the silence in the face of this variant of evil undercuts claims to morality advocacy.

Ted Z. Manuel, Hyde Park

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