Subject: NCC Weekly News: Special Orlando Edition

View this email online if it doesn't display correctly

Statement by the National Council of Churches in the wake of the worst mass shooting in US History
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA was shocked and saddened by news of the largest mass shooting in our country’s history. We deplore gun violence, hate crimes, and terrorism in all their manifestations.

All of these forms of violence insidiously came together in this incident -- a lone shooter using an assault weapon and professing his affinity with ISIS targeted the LGBTQ community -- which resulted in the death of 49 people and the injury of 53 more. We mourn the dead, stand with the survivors, and grieve with the victims’ families. We also pray for a speedy recovery of the wounded, for the healing of the Orlando community, and for the well being of our country after this assault on our cherished values.

It is not lost on us that the shooter was a Muslim, and some may wrongly seek to label Muslims as violent people generally. Apparently known not to be particularly religious, reports indicate that he was both mentally unstable and swayed by the kind of hate that is antithetical to genuine faith. Indeed, no person of faith can carry out such an act of violence and claim authentically to do so in the name of their faith. Our Muslim friends share this same conviction.

We are grateful for the heroic efforts of police and other first responders that saved lives. And we reiterate our call for sensible gun control laws that, among other limitations, will keep military-grade weapons out of the hands of private citizens.

While this shooting specifically targeted the LGBTQ community, it also targeted our entire society, which boldly affirms that people with different beliefs, perspectives, and backgrounds can come together to build a strong and vibrant nation. When the inability to deal with difference yields to violence, it is not only a step backward in terms of civilized social engagement, it reveals the difference between the values we promote and the ideology promoted by those who seek to destroy. We therefore join together with our neighbors across the country to affirm and reaffirm yet again all that we hold dear.

We are grateful to our member communions and partners for their bold statements in the wake of this horrific event.  Below is a sample of the many statements that have been issued.
WCC general secretary outraged by Orlando shooting, calls for control of automatic weapons

The general secretary of the World Council of Churches expressed “shock, outrage and sadness” over the tragic events in Orlando, Florida on Sunday 12 June 2016. In what is said to be the worst mass shooting in US history, 50 people are reported to have lost their lives and 53 more were wounded in an attack by a single gunman.

Reacting to the news, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary, said: “My thoughts and prayers go especially to the families, friends and loved ones of the victims, to the injured, and to the whole community affected by this appalling attack – as they do to so many others around the world touched by violence and brutality in recent days, months and years. I pray for God’s healing and comfort for all whose lives have been altered forever by such destructive and corrosive hatred.”

Noting that the attack took place in a nightclub frequented by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people, and that the crime may have been motivated at least in part by the perpetrator’s perception of his religious heritage, Tveit called “for all people of faith and goodwill to join in clearly and categorically rejecting violence against people on the basis of their sexual orientation, regardless of differing religious perspectives regarding homosexuality.”

USCMO Condemns the Orlando Shooting

The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), the largest coalition of leading national and local Muslim organizations, expresses its horror over the mass shooting which took place at a nightclub in Orlando, FL overnight, and offers its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and prays for quick recovery for those who were injured.

The shooting, where over 50 were killed and at least the same number were injured, is an affront to all minorities. The USCMO stands firmly against all forms of violence committed against any group, regardless of religious affiliation, creed, color, or sexual orientation. "We condemn such heinous acts by individuals or groups who have no regard for the sanctity of human life" said Oussama Jammal, the secretary general of USCMO.

The right to live free from violence, harassment or intimidation is the most basic human right and must be defended unconditionally.

The USCMO urges the Muslim community in Orlando, Florida to step up to donate blood and to reach out to the injured and to the families of the victims.

African Methodist Episcopal Church Statement on Shooting in Orlando, Florida

The African Methodist Episcopal Church condemns the mass shooting that occurred in Orlando, Florida on Sunday morning, June 12. It was the deadliest mass shooting in United States history that caused 50 deaths and 53 injuries. We commend law enforcement because their intervention likely prevented more deaths and casualties.

A year ago this Friday, the African Methodist Episcopal Church experienced the brutal and tragic death of nine of our congregants at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina and we feel the loss, hurt and sorrow of those whose loved ones have been injured and killed in Orlando, Florida. We extend our sympathy and our prayers and ask God to comfort them in their sorrow, fill the void in their lives, and give them the peace of God. We also lift our prayers for those who have been injured, believing that God will heal and restore them, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

This mass shooting, which has been labeled as domestic terrorism, again reminds us of the critical times in which we live. We live every day with the threat of attacks from international or domestic terrorists. No longer is the United States protected by the waters which separate us from those who are our enemies. As we saw in Orlando yesterday, some of our enemies come from within our borders; homegrown terrorist, whose determined goal is to kill, injure and bring fear to Americans.

Yesterday’s mass shooting is also a reminder that racism and hate are still a part of American life. The gunman in yesterday’s shooting, Omar Mateen, in conversations with family, former employees and others, expressed his racist feelings and hatred toward blacks and those who were gay.

We, as a nation, once again have been confronted with the significant loss of lives and violence caused by guns; in one day, in one place, 53 people killed and 50 persons wounded by a gun.

What will it take for the United States to act on these very important issues? In some ways we invite the tragedies which have become so commonplace among us. Many of our political leaders are making it easier for terrorists to recruit and incite Americans to commit terrorist acts. Calls to ban all Muslims from entering the United States and the profiling of Muslims because of their religion are invitations to trouble. It is no coincidence that the increase in domestic terrorism parallels the increased rhetoric against Muslims.

The nation’s denial about the reality of racism and how pervasive it is has caused polarization and anger. The mindset of denial, fanned by our political leadership, does not speak well for the United States. What will it take for the nation’s political leadership in both political parties to reform of our gun laws? The gun lobby in this country is clearly the strongest lobby in this country. Most things are just common sense, unless it applies to guns.

The gunman in yesterday’s shooting had an assault style rifle. Six months ago in San Bernardino the gunman had an assault style rifle. In 2012 at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado and at a school in Newtown, Connecticut the gunmen had assault style rifles. In the past 10 years, assault style weapons have been used in 14 mass shootings, with half of them since last June. These type weapons were banned in 1994, but the ban expired in 2004 and Congress because of the fear of the gun lobby has not acted to renew it. Another mass shooting has taken place, the largest in American history; and again, Congress will not act.

The African Methodist Episcopal Church will continue its efforts on the issue of gun control. We will continue to speak out against racism and seek to get the nation to act on gun reform laws.

Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, Bishop Jeffrey N. Leath and Ms. Jacqueline DuPont Walker will join with the National Council of Churches to meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this week in Washington to discuss gun reform legislation and a call for the immediate reinstatement of the Assault Weapons Ban.

The African Methodist Episcopal Church joins with the nation in praying for the families of those who lost loved ones and healing for those who are injured; but we also commit ourselves to continue to advocate and seek to abate and nullify the circumstances that create the environment for tragedies like this to happen.

Religions for Peace USA Statement on Orlando Shooting

On behalf of our 50 national religious member communities, Religions for Peace USA lifts up prayers and sends our deepest condolences to the victims of the sickening attack this morning in Orlando, Florida that left over 50 people dead and 53 injured. We especially stand with LGBTQ people who were the target of this vicious attack.

There is no excuse for such brutality.

Such attacks wound our shared humanity and confront with a stark choice: to mimic the hatred we see or to make a bold commitment to overcome it. For Religions for Peace USA, the interconnected nature of our world means simply this: we must all become peace-makers now. For, if we respond to every act of violence with a thirst for yet more violence in revenge, we will undoubtedly succeed in little more than inflicting unspeakable suffering on one another. There must be a dedication to the future in which the chains of suffering and violence are broken.

Religions around the world call us to our highest and best values — values which lead us to courageous peace-making on every level. We, therefore, urge people everywhere, to make a fresh commitment to building a world of peace and justice and doing all we can to renounce violent language and actions wherever they arise. This requires that we must reach beyond and across lines of human difference – religion, race, nationality and sexual identity – to honor and protect the lives, humanity and dignity of all.

ISNA Offers Condolences to the Families of the Orlando Shooting Victims

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is outraged by the horrific shooting in Orlando, Florida.

​We stand with the victims of this senseless act of violence and mourn with the families of the victims and pray for their ease and comfort during this time of difficulty.

In a statement, ISNA President Azhar Azeez said: 

"ISNA sends its condolences and prayers to the families of the victims. We urge the community to stand united against all acts of violence."

We encourage our members to donate to help with the immediate, short-term needs of the grieving families and our members in Florida to visit a blood center today to donate blood to help the victims of the shooting.

Video statement by Rev. Sharon Watkins, General Minister of the Disciples of Christ, and Chair of the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches
Video statement by the Most Rev. Michael Curry,
Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church
110 Maryland Ave NE, Suite 108, Washington, DC 20002, United States
You may unsubscribe or change your contact details at any time.