Saturday, June 25, 2016

Ungodliness is to Blame for Orlando, According to Some Religious Right Figures

Religious Right voices continue to chime in after the Orlando massacre. While some Religious Right figures have blamed gays for their own victimization, others are blaming an insufficiently pious society for the tragedy. In other words, some commentators see the massacre as a consequence of society's insufficient Christian faith and refusal to infuse laws with religious principles.

Two commentators come to mind. First, Kevin Swanson blamed the Orlando massacre on national sinfulness during a recent edition of his Generations with Vision radio show. At the 6:01 mark of his "Why the Orlando Shootings" show, Swanson claimed that America is collapsing because it is celebrating sin. Violence is a natural result of turning away from God, he argued.
"During the breakdown of an American republic, the breakdown of an entire empire, a civilization, a society is breaking down as the social fabric of the nation is unraveling, and that inevitably leads to a political and social collapse, and that's what we're witnessing in our present day. So hopefully, as Christians, we understand what is happening as man is destroying himself, but of course, the gospel of Jesus Christ still reaches ... those who are crying out for God's salvation from sin.
The problem of course with the nation is that not only have we sinned, but sin is now being institutionalized in just about every major institution in this country. That is, sin is preferred, and any form of righteousness is being persecuted across this country. Well today, we're going to talk about some of the effects of what happens when sin dominates in a nation. Violence, destruction, social unraveling is pretty much the result that we have witnessed and will continue to witness in the years to come." 
Swanson ignores the fact that society isn't collapsing and that Christian "righteousness" isn't being persecuted. Furthermore, Swanson's indictment ignores the complex roots of the Orlando shooting, including homophobia, Islamic extremism, and the shooter's personal issues. Rather than offer insight into the shooting, Swanson uses it as an opportunity to spout apocalyptic rhetoric and blame society for not sharing his religious beliefs.

A similar indictment came from American Pastors Network president Sam Rohrer during his appearance on the June 15th edition of The Steve Deace Show. While Rohrer reserved most of his condemnation for the "enemy ideology" of Islam and our "soft" political leaders, he claimed that God "removed his hand of blessing" from America because the nation rejected his laws. Those laws include "God’s design for the family", he said. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)
"...God has removed his hand of blessing on this country because we've turned our back upon him, and when he removed his hand of protection, these kinds of things come forth ... God has made very clear that every nation that he has established, and He establishes all nations. We’re told that all nations are established by God, even the very geographical boundaries of the nations are determined, that when a nation, any nation, does what God says, meaning that they fear him, that they uphold and enforce God’s moral law and God’s design for the family and for the church and for civil government, all of those are his. When those things are done, then God will bless a nation.

One of those blessings are the increase of wealth. One of those things is a security and protection from the neighbors around them. Even the enemies will be at peace with them, we’re told in a number of places in scripture. But when a nation backs off of that, particularly a nation such as ours that has a very biblical basis in an understanding of biblical principles, that’s where our Constitution came from, Declaration of Independence before that came out of that. When those things were there and put in place, when a nation turns their back on those things as we have and increasingly, arrogantly doing, then at that point the justice of God says ‘I cannot any longer bless’ and these things which you’re doing will lead to not his lack of blessing, but insecurity and so forth. That is basically the sense of where it is."
Rohrer fails to understand that tragedies take place for specific reasons, not because God is angry at America. Infusing society and government with fundamentalist Protestant beliefs would not have extinguished the homophobia, extremism, and personal demons that likely drove Mateen.

Ultimately, it's easier for Religious Right to blame society than to look long and hard at their own attitudes. The Religious Right is a vocal proponent of homophobia, but its adherents are reluctant to consider the ways that homophobic attitudes contribute to anti-gay violence. Unfortunately, self-reflection required humility and honesty, two virtues in short supply among the right.


  1. What pisses me off as someone who lives in Orlando is the attempt by the local fundamentalist christians to exploit this tragedy to make converts. They've come to the memorial at the Dr. Phillips Center, and talked loud enough to their targets that they hope other people will overhear. They leave tracts. They get on the news stations' Facebooks and tell people that the people who died are in hell...and one of the Southern Baptist megas threw a city wide prayer service, as if they really cared about anything other than "pray away the gay" therapy. It's kind of hard for me to take right now, as I worked many years ago as a custodian in one of the local megachurches. I know how they think.

    1. Mary Ellen -- Thank you for stopping by!

      You have every right to be angry. They shouldn't use the tragedy as a cheap way to proselytize, and they definitely shouldn't insult the dead by saying they're in hell. Tasteless and offensive.

      As for the SB prayer service, if they truly wanted to do right by the departed, they would renounce their homophobia.

  2. "Unfortunately, self-reflection required humility and honesty, two virtues in short supply among the right."

    Their minds have been conditioned to equate validation of their beliefs -- something they need and crave like a desperate drug addict in withdrawal -- with truth -- which would turn their small worlds upside down.

    Therefore, that they have already wrapped the Orlando tragedy in a neat little box and affixed a simple black and white label without any consideration for the facts is hardly surprising.

    1. Agi Tater -- It's frightening how constricted their minds are.


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