Multifaith Leaders Assemble to Condemn Mass Shooting in Orlando, Florida
Following the 12 June shooting inside a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, leaders of Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Native American communities, as well as those of atheist traditions, gathered for an interfaith conference in South Reno United Methodist Church, Nevada, during which they strongly condemned the attack. “We, the faith leaders of Nevada, unanimously condemn any and all acts of violence against innocent people,” said Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, who organized the gathering. (Pink News)
The mass shooting at the nightclub Pulse, which has been widely denounced as an act of terrorism and a hate crime, is the deadliest by a single gunman as well as the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in US history. Fifty people died, including the gunman, Omar Mateen, who was killed by Orlando police after a three-hour standoff, and 53 people were injured.
“We are deeply saddened by this morning’s tragedy of Orlando nightclub massacre. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families. It was a senseless and shocking violence,” said Zed. “We, as people of faith, despite our different belief systems, must take a stand against violence by coming together with kindness and love.” (Pink News)
Among the participants in the event were Dawn M. Flower, senior pastor of South Reno United Methodist Church; Abdul Rahim Barghouthi, acting imam of Northern Nevada Muslim Community; Matthew T. Fisher, the resident priest of Reno Buddhist Center; Elizabeth Webb Beyer, rabbi of Temple Beth Or & North Tahoe Hebrew Congregation; Gene Savoy Junior, bishop of the International Community of Christ; Justin V. Deverse, Baha’i teacher; Brian E. Melendez, American Indian Spirituality scholar; Bernard T. Drumm, atheist leader; and Kenneth G. Lucey, professor of religion at the University of Nevada.
A moment of silence was observed, during which about 150 people stood to honor the Orlando shooting victims and their families. A lamp was also lit by the various religious leaders assembled.
Separately, more than 200 Muslims, including dozens of American imams and scholars, issued a joint statement condemning the attack. In their statement, they said, the late boxer and activist Muhammad Ali more closely embodied the values of Islam than the terrorist organization ISIS, which has claimed responsibility for the attack. They also dismissed the idea held in some sectors of society of “collective guilt,” which holds all Muslims responsible for terrorist attacks committed by radical Muslims, cautioning that such simplistic perspectives could lead to further societal discord, pitting Americans and Muslims against one another.
“We will not allow the extremists to define us, mold us in their benighted image, or sow the seeds of discord among us. We are one people, so let us all in good conscience and human solidarity reject this extremist narrative and assert our shared humanity and mutual respect for the sanctity of all human life,” the statement said. (CNN)
Many world leaders have also spoken publicly to condemn the attacks, including US president Barak Obama. “This is an especially heartbreaking day for all our friends—our fellow Americans—who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender,” he said in a statement. (Pink News)
“. . . this is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American—regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation—is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country. And no act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans.”
Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish leaders unite to condemn Orlando shootings (Pink News)
Global religious leaders in Nevada unanimously condemn Orlando massacre (News Dog)
Muslim leaders: ‘We will not allow the extremists to define us’ (CNN)
US bishops condemn Orlando club shooting, offer prayers (Vatican Radio)
Dalai Lama Urges Religious Harmony in the Wake of Tragic Events in Orlando (Buddhistdoor Global)