On June 12, 2016, a gunman killed 49 people and injured an additional 53 at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. This was a tragic event and a sad day in American history.
Similar to last year after the tragic shooting at Mother Emanuel AME church in South Carolina, a group of local pastors gathered to grieve and plan an interfaith gathering. At our first meeting were the pastors from First Congregational Church, First Lutheran Church, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of DeKalb, Islamic Center of DeKalb, and representatives from NIU’s LGBT and Latino Centers.
As we gathered around the table with different theologies, cultures, doctrines, and sexual orientations, we knew the situation in Orlando was multi-layered. Issues like homophobia, Islamophobia, religion, gun violence, and racism were all intertwined in this horrific incident. Needless to say, the dialogue was rich, honest, and informative.
As I sat at the table engaged with these amazing people, I started to believe again. We weren’t there to proselytize, see whose faith is right, or push personal agendas. We were there with the common goal of loving and respecting humanity Recognizing and affirming what makes us different while focusing on what we have in common.
When our politics and religions divide us and push an agenda of supremacy, they need to be re-examined. Making America Great again is not about building walls; it’s about building bridges.
I’m Joe Mitchell, and this is my perspective.