Who is accountable for the Orlando shooting?
Ex-gay speaker Joseph Sciambra has already been receiving hate mail blaming him (and others like him) for the massacre of 50 people at a gay bar in Orlando. Anderson Cooper blames Florida AG Pam Bondi. An old high school friend of mine blamed Pat Robertson’s network on his Facebook page. I’ve blamed Mohammed (the infamous prophet.) Others, including Bishop Lynch of Florida, have blamed all of Christendom and Islam collectively. Some have blamed the Democratic Party (the shooter was a registered Democrat.) Some have blamed homophobia in general. The president and Hillary Clinton blame guns. Who really is to blame for this atrocity?
So far, there is only one person to blame that we know of. That is the perpetrator Omar Mateen. His wife is possibly also to blame. The human mind has a hard time getting around the idea that one or two people can be responsible for so much death. We tell ourselves that there must be more blame to go around because so much injustice has occurred. We cannot fathom the idea of one person causing so much injustice all by himself. We look for others to cast blame on. It’s only natural.
At the same time, we cannot ignore that this is not an isolated incident. There have been other terror attacks on U.S. soil, the most deadly of which was the attack on the World Trade Center. Something is going on in America that is ugly and dangerous, and the Orlando shooting was just the latest manifestation of this. In this, we can try to determine what ills of society are contributing to the problem. Unfortunately, we are deeply divided on this question. Is it homophobia and guns, as Bishop Lynch would have us believe? Is it the Democratic Party? The Republican Party? Christendom? I submit that the common thread here is the rejection or loss of reason.
The Newtown shooting was due to mental illness. In mental illness, we see the loss of reason. Islamism rejects reason. Pope Benedict XVI courageously pointed this out in his famous speech at Regensburg. As Rick Santorum pointed out in his speech on Islamic fascism at the University of Oklahoma, in Islam “to think is an infidel.” How else can a Muslim kill 50 people in a bar unless he has sacrificed his basic human reason to a god who ostensibly knows better?
In contrast, Christianity embraces reason. Read Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical Fides et Ratio for the best example of this. Most men are not murderers because man’s basic human reason tells him not to murder others. Christianity’s teaching against murder is, then, in sync with basic human reason. It is because of this that I find appalling the claims that Christianity may somehow be to blame, even in a small measure, for what happened in Orlando. A bishop may say so, but my basic human reason tells me that is nonsense.
I do not hold out much hope that our country will be less divided on these things tomorrow than it was yesterday. It is very sad that we have come to this, particularly given how we came together after the attacks on September 11. We should pray that we can come together on the idea that most of us are not murderers and it requires a loss or rejection of reason to commit murder. If we can just agree to that, I think it will be a big step forward.