Exploiting Orlando: The Threat Of Rhetoric That Divides Instead Of Unites

Over the weekend, Americans United joined thousands of people here in Washington, D.C., at Capital Pride. We had an informational booth there and were pleased to meet with many people who support our mission.

Inevitably, the tragic murders of 49 people and the wounding of dozens more at a gay club in Orlando early Sunday morning weighed on the minds of many. But the horrific attack didn’t deter people from attending D.C.’s event. AU was pleased to be there and considered it an opportunity to show our support for the LGBTQ community at this difficult time.

That support takes many forms. We must condemn violence and hate in all of its manifestations, but we can’t stop there.

One more thing we can do is stand against anyone who seeks to exploit these tragedies for their own gain. Along those lines, I was struck by a statement that Richard Land, a former top official of the Southern Baptist Convention, issued hours after the attack.

Land, now president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, condemned the killings, but at the end of his statement added: “It should not be lost to the ‘politically correct’ that the target of the terrorist act in this case was the gay community. In areas controlled by Islamic terrorists, homosexuals are thrown from the top of buildings and hung from construction cranes. Political correctness and progressivist policies don’t fare well under Sharia Law.”

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) issued a similar statement. Land and Cruz are not known for their sympathy toward the LGBTQ community, so what’s going on here?

It’s likely they see this as a wedge issue, yet another opportunity to get someone they like elected to public office.

Crowds attend the Capital Pride Festival in Washington, D.C. on Sunday.

This is not helpful. The best thing Land and Cruz could do right now is stop baiting the LGBTQ community and get to work on improving their own.

Here are some things the coreligionists of Land and Cruz said about this time last year after the Supreme Court upheld marriage equality:

“The rainbow jihadists of [the Supreme Court] blow up twin towers of truth and righteousness. Every advance of the gay agenda comes at the expense of religious liberty. As of today, free exercise is toast.” (Bryan Fischer, American Family Association)

“I think we’re going to see the further deconstruction of the family. We’re going to see the impact on marriage as we’ve seen in some of the Scandinavian countries. It means we’re going to see more children born out of wedlock.” (Tony Perkins, Family Research Council)

“Many of us will be dragged into court to be prosecuted or subjected to civil judgments. Some will lose their jobs, while others forfeit their businesses. Some will be persecuted and ridiculed and fined. Some may go to prison as the years unfold….I also fear that judgment will befall this once great nation.” (James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family)

“We should not pretend that it is the rule of law, we should not act like it’s the rule of law….It is not; it is not based on the Constitution – and if it’s not based on the Constitution, it’s just their opinion.” (Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel)

And here is something that Franklin Graham said recently: “The gay and lesbian movement is basically a lie itself. Less than 2 percent of the American population is gay, but they have been able to convince the vast majority – largely because they’ve gotten into schools – that the behavior is okay. They are forcing the rest of the country to accept their lifestyle, and our president is promoting that lifestyle. For us as Christians we need to stand up and push back, by getting elected locally.”

Land, Cruz, Fischer, Perkins et al. don’t want to admit this, but the type of ugly talk about the LGBTQ community that flows constantly from their organizations has one goal: dehumanizing and demonizing people who are our friends, family, coworkers and neighbors. No statement issuing sorrow yesterday can change that.

When this sort of violent thing happens – and unfortunately it happens all too often in this country – it’s only natural to want to say something about it. But if what you’re going to say isn’t helpful, if it only promotes a self-serving agenda or seeks to boost yet another political wedge issue, do us all a favor and just clam up.