by Russell Pollitt SJ
(written and published in Daily Maverick)

In yet another senseless shooting spree, the biggest in US history, 49 people have lost their lives in Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. In the early hours of Sunday morning Omar Mateen opened fire on those who were dancing the night away. IS claimed responsibility for the killing. In the aftermath of the killing a number of religious people took to social media to condemn homosexuality. Appallingly, one called it “good news”. Guns and terrorism will, no doubt, be debated in the coming days and weeks. But what role does religion play in the persecution and suffering of gay people?

Gay-bashing has often found its justification in religious traditions. It’s an unfortunate pitfall that many believers fall into: the propensity to see themselves as the ultimate guardians of morality and in so doing demonise anyone that is “other” – or does not fit their narrow (often flawed) understanding, and categories. This has been further compounded by the language that is used in religious traditions. Naively, I was shocked to read some of the reactions – by so-called believers – in the aftermath of the horrific killings at Pulse. READ MORE