When the man in the pulpit says that Islam is satanic and the Bible teaches that homosexuals are wicked, how might a Christian fundamentalist respond to a Muslim man murdering innocent women and men in a gay nightclub?

When news broke that the Pulse nightclub in Orlando had been the target of yet another mass shooting in the United States and that the attacker had been identified as a Muslim, it was obvious that the mainstream media would have a field day. At last the emphasis could be shifted from mentally unstable white men and gun control and onto “radical Islam.” Usually the religious right in the States joins in in this Islamophobic chorus so as to make the case for Israel and blacken Islam and Muslim communities as the antichrist before their eagerly awaited Judgement Day. Yet the victims in this attack were members of the LGBT community, and the “Bible believing” Christian right was going to have a few problems seeing the murder of gay people as a bad thing.

Spouting for years the atrocious cliché that God loves the sinner and hates the sin, Evangelical Christian fundamentalists have relentlessly assaulted gay people – using some of the most obnoxious passages in sacred scripture to legitimise their hate speech. Yes, it is true, and however much it might leave some feeling uncomfortable, the Bible is riddled with truly obnoxious passages. How can we sanitise Ezekiel’s “She whored with her lovers whose penises were like donkey’s and whose ejaculations were like stallions’ (Ezekiel 23:20),” or temper the Psalm’s “They will be happy when they take your babies and smash them against a rock (Psalm 137:9)?”

So when we read in Leviticus of the death penalty for men who sleep with men (the Bible isn’t too interested in what lesbians do) we shouldn’t be too shocked. Most of the Bible was written before Alexander the Great was born. This is an ancient text. It is pre-scientific. It is pre-Enlightenment. It is what it is. Nowhere does it make the claim for itself that it is a moral book (it isn’t even a single book by a single author) or even a guide for good ethical living. All of these things have been imposed on it over the millennia by people who want nothing more than to delegate their personal responsibility to think rationally and make good, moral decisions.

Sacred texts are just that, sacred. Their holiness is derived not from their content, but from the position they hold as ancient documents within liturgical contexts by religious communities. Certainly from a Christian point of view the Bible is not “the Word of God.” God never wrote these words. Human beings did. We Christians believe in the Word made flesh (John 1:14), not in the word made print. The worship of human words, written or spoken, is idolatry – it is the worship of a false God, and the worship of ancient words seldom leads to good places.

It was evident from the beginning then that the atrocious and heartless murder of gay women and men would pose Christian religious fundamentalists with a real dilemma, whether to see this for the evil that it was or see in it some vile vindication of the printed word. Pastor Steven Anderson, a Baptist minister from Arizona, went full tilt on the subject. Anderson has made a name for himself as an outspoken anti-Semite and homophobic hate preacher, but his recent outburst takes the biscuit. Understandably he has become a figure of hate over the years, but it is wrong to hate him. In fact, he deserves some respect. He truly believes in the printed word of his English speaking deity, and, where others have been more subtle, he has had the strength of courage to say what his god teaches – no matter how truly disgusting that teaching is.

Pastor Anderson’s Response to Orlando Gay Bar Shooting

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