Not One or the Other; It’s All Three

There have been 187 shootings at schools in the US since 2013.

Between December 14, 2012 and December 14, 2015, the number of children under the age of 12 who died from gunshots was 555.

1,300 people died in mass shootings between December 14, 2012 and December 2, 2015.

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York strove to assure New Yorkers that the city was prepared to protect them.” Some promises are easier to make than they are to keep.

Early on there was question as to whether the shooting this morning in Orlando was a hate crime, an act of terrorism, or the act of a very sick person. As of this point in the day, there is little doubt that it was all three.

What does it take for people to be safe? First of all, there can be no demonization of them as individuals or as a group. Their personhood cannot be caricatured as a way of ostracizing or marginalizing them. They cannot be afforded “some rights”, or even “most rights”. Their full citizenship must be affirmed by granting them all the rights to live, love, believe, be employed, housed and socialize as they please.

Our society – and the United Methodist Church of which First UMC Burlington is a part – must insure that PRIDE marches are no longer necessary. Full inclusion with all the burdens of responsibility and all the benefits of privileges must be afforded our LGBTQ citizens.

The point so many seem to miss is this: The rhetoric that anticipates and gives permission to violence soon turns back on the speaker. If the churches, schools, shopping malls, movie theaters and night clubs are not safe for all of us, they aren’t safe for any of us.

What happened in Orlando this morning is an act of terror, a hate crime committed by a very sick individual. We can only wonder what was waiting to happen in Los Angeles before the police searched that white Acura …

Our prayers today are with victims, their families, their friends, and the family of the shooter. But that’s not now, nor has it ever been, enough.


Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.

  • Toni Foote

    Thank you, Mark, for this.
    The thing I love best about First UMC is that it is clearly a congregation of souls who view Love as an action. I can’t help but believe that if we all Love our fellows hard enough we can spread that view of active Love like a virus.
    I so look forward to the day when we ALL attend Pride parades for no reason other than fun.