Right and Wrong Reactions to the Tragic Night Club Massacre in Orlando

Ray Rivera, left, a DJ at Pulse Orlando nightclub, is consoled by a friend, outside of the Orlando Police Department after a shooting involving multiple fatalities at the nightclub, Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Fla.

By Michael Brown Published on June 12, 2016

Shortly after the 9/11 terror attacks, my wife and I realized that her only brother, Douglas, used to work at the World Trade Center. Was it possible he was among the victims?

Tragically, although he no longer worked there regularly, he was doing a trade show there that day and he perished along with 3,000 others, leaving behind a wife and two young children.

Four years ago, a graduate from our ministry school was assassinated by Islamic terrorists while serving in an impoverished Muslim community in the Middle East. He was like a spiritual son to us, and he also left behind a wife and two young children.

So, I write these words with pain and with empathy for the victims of this latest terror attack, the deadliest on our shores since 9/11. I also write these words knowing that these deaths will be politicized for better or worse in the coming days. How should we respond to this tragic carnage?

1. Our first response can only be shock, grief and outrage.

It doesn’t matter if these people were at a gay club or in an office building. They are fellow human beings who were murdered in cold blood. Whether they were murdered in a straight bar, a sports stadium, or a park they were murdered nonetheless and without any justification.

If you tell me that the biblical punishment for homosexual practice is death, I’ll remind you that the Bible says that the wages of all sin is death, that all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s standards, and that sins practiced by Christians all the time, including gossip and envy, are worthy of death (see Romans 1:29-32; see also Luke 13:1-5).

Now is not the time to point fingers.

A young woman who works in our ministry texted me moments ago. For a number of years she lived as a lesbian and often performed in that very night club. She wrote, “I think I’m in shock. I feel like some of my friends had to have been victims.”

Yes, these were family members, friends and co-workers, and before we politicize this massacre, we must grieve over it. May the Lord have mercy on the wounded and on the family members of those slain.

2. We must take Muslim terrorism even more seriously — without condemning all Muslims.

At Muhammad Ali’s funeral service, leftist rabbi Michael Lerner said, “We will not tolerate politicians or anyone else putting down Muslims and blaming Muslims for the actions of a few people.”

A few people, as in perhaps 200-300 million Muslims worldwide who are sympathetic to radical Islam? A few people, as in the few responsible for the 28,576 deadly Islamic terror attacks since 9/11, including 60 in the first 7 days of Ramadan, resulting in 472 deaths?

Reports indicate that the Orlando murderer, Omar Mateen, “became a person of interest [to federal authorities] in 2013 and again in 2014,” and the FBI “at one point opened an investigation into Mateen but subsequently closed the case when it produced nothing that appeared to warrant further investigation.”

Similarly, the San Bernardino killers were missed by federal authorities, resulting in another bloodbath.

At the same time, there are plenty of peace-loving Muslims in America who are not only appalled at this violence but who now fear for their own lives.

Our response must be measured.

Whatever it takes, we must devote more energy and resources to rooting out Islamic terrorism from our land (perhaps Israel can help us with this?), even if it means making some Muslims uncomfortable. They, for their part, can show their good will by working aggressively with American authorities to expose Islamic terror, while those who are not so forthcoming will thereby mark themselves for further scrutiny. At the same time, we cannot demonize all American Muslims.

Again, our response must be measured.

3. We must renounce all rhetoric that leads to violence, but we shouldn’t restrict freedom of speech or label every critical remark as hate speech.

It is one thing for some hateful person to say, “You gay vermin deserve to die, and I’ve got a bullet waiting for you!” It’s another thing entirely to say, “I love you as my neighbor and I’m committed to your well-being, but I believe marriage is the union of a man and woman.”

Unfortunately, in a climate in which religious freedoms are already under serious attack, this terrible massacre could have a chilling effect, further restricting our freedoms, as God-fearing, people-loving Christians will be lumped together with radical, murderous Muslims.

A Christian colleague of mine posted on Twitter, “Just read reports of the act of terrorism at the night club in #Orlando. I’m so grieved by this. Come Jesus.” Someone responded, “Your work creates a culture that dehumanizes us. That makes it easier for people to kill us. Don’t grieve, repent.”

You can expect comments much more intense than this in the coming days from political leaders, journalists, social media experts and entertainers, as if Christians who renounce violence but who teach that homosexual practice is sinful in God’s sight were complicit in the slaughter of men and women in a gay bar.

Not surprisingly, someone posted on my Facebook page, “I blame YOU and people like you for the tragedy in Orlando. As of now, 50 people are dead, 53 injured, including at least one police officer, due to homophobia. And you, and your ilk spreading your messages of hate daily directly contribute to senseless tragedies like this. … SHAME ON YOU!”

I responded, “You’re attacking the wrong person. I get death threats and death wishes on a regular basis from the LGBT community, but I will continue to preach the love of God.”

Our words must be guided by truth and love.

The recent guidelines passed by the European Commission in conjunction with Microsoft, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, while well-intended, could also have a dangerously restrictive effect, as they target “racism, xenophobia and all forms of intolerance.” What exactly is meant by “all forms of intolerance”? As I’ve documented for years now, calls for “tolerance” often result in acts of extreme intolerance towards others.

4. We have an obvious gun problem in America, but gun free zones are not the solution.

I personally don’t believe that when our Founders guaranteed our right to bear arms they envisioned our inner-cities being war zones and police being outgunned by criminals and terrorists. At the same time, as in many mass murders in America, the Orlando massacre was in a gun-free zone.

Is there some middle ground that can be found between the two positions? If we forget about our political viewpoint for a moment and simply talk about common-sense safety, is there no solution we can find? I am no expert in this area, but I have to believe that there is a better way.

Having said all this, let’s return to where we started. This is a time for mourning and pain. May God have mercy on America. We are a broken nation in need of massive restoration and repair.

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  • Queen Laura’s Ghost

    The proper response is some human respect and compassion. Have some respect and don’t rush to pump out falsely “compassionate” articles whose true cause is to politicize the dead and make their slaughter into a rally for your cause before their bodies are even cold in the ground. How about that?

    • John James

      How about we obey our own advice and stop writing comments under those articles and stop spreading hate?.

      • Queen Laura’s Ghost

        If only.

        • John James

          Yea, stop spreading hatred. Thanks

          • Queen Laura’s Ghost

            I’m spreading hatred? Haha, bye.

          • Life tip: if your mantra is “love is love”, then it might actually mean something if you show love for people who disagree with your worldview. Loving your friends is easy and it’s what everyone does. It’s nothing special. As Christians we love even our enemies. Even those that come onto a website just to stir up controversy.

            God bless.

          • Asemodevs

            Bi

    • CbinJ

      I think Godly respect and compassion is better than human “respect and compassion”. Seems to me, as evidenced by this tragedy, humans are hopeless and depraved. Truly, God, religion, and human rights (like self-defense and freedom of speech) are beyond politics, even as people like you can’t comprehend that.

      • Queen Laura’s Ghost

        And evidently people like *you* can’t comprehend the very basic concept of decency that involves respecting fifty slaughtered people and their grieving families. The same goes for gun control obsessed writers on the opposite side who are doing the same thing. All of you are on the same level of disrespect and indecency, like circling vultures. I hope you aren’t in the same position one day, so you don’t have to learn the hard way what it feels like to have media hounds writing sensationalist articles about your loved one(s) not a full day after they were murdered.

        • CbinJ

          You need to actually read what I said before you comment with your pompous screed. You show a refusal to take into account higher concepts like fighting those who wish to take away everyone’s right to defend against this type of murderous evil in the future. You see, the mainstream media is the one who made this political by broadcasting this was a “gay” night club. Out came the gun control nuts, anti-Christians, and LGBT activists. Of course, if conservatives are silent we continue to lose ground and more people lose human rights, more people are led astray by lies, and more people die, frankly. Even if you disagree, if this is what we believe, do you still demand we keep silent as our consciences are screaming?

          Another higher concept: Godly respect and compassion aka Mercy, Grace, and Love gives hope where there is hopelessness because if you think humans can just do better or progress you’re wrong. See last night in Orlando as an example. I write this because you imply that religion is political, indecent, and disrespectful. So now, how about explaining what human respect and compassion looks like? Silence in the face of evil? You seem to be declaring we should do and say nothing then? Relying on your personal code of decency isn’t going to do anything to better the world. Nor is anybody else bound by your personal code of decency whether I, myself, agree with it or not.

          • They tend not to read comments that disagree with their worldview.

    • Wow. That’s one wrong way to read the article. I pray you find peace one day. You sound needlessly angry.

  • CbinJ

    Amen, Dr. Brown.

  • RoundRocker

    Only a narcissist would make a tragedy like this about themselves. Families and friends are grieving. It’s not about you. It’s not about your wife’s brother, it’s not about your “spiritual son”, it’s not about your colleagues and friends. Your first 3 points were spot on before you made it about yourself, and your 4th point was half right. We have a gun problem in America. Trump is Tweeting about this, inserting himself into the tragedy as if he predicted it and repeating his call to ban Muslims from America- as if they don’t have the same religious freedom as every other American. Are you proud to be in such company?

    • John James

      What Trump is saying is what many Muslim countries are already doing. Pakistan closed 200 Madrasas where they teach extremist Islamic views. Bangladesh already arrested 5000s extremist sympathizers recently . These Muslim majority countries know that there is a problem in Islam. When Trump proposed what these Muslim countries are doing, everybody is against him. Everybody is hating on Trump, because he is not a Muslim ,but arrogant enough to point out this fact. Considering Paris attack was done by people, who got fake Syrian passport, Trump is right to temporarily ban Muslims until we figure out what is happening over here. It is of no surprise to me that liberal media hides that South American countries arrested 100s of illegal Islamist trying to enter USA.

      As I said earlier, every religion is not same, some religion are more different than others. We saw that in Charlie Hebdo incident in Paris. In fact after 9/11, we fully lost our freedom in air travelling. Considering every minority religion are persecuted in all 57 Muslim majority countries , I have little sympathy for Muslims, until they figure out what is the problem with their religion. As long as people are more worried about offending a particular religion over the safety of people, I have little hope.

    • It’s called relating, not narcissism.

    • Zebman

      Only a troll would type something like that d r i v e l!

  • Thankyou for your wise words, Dr Brown.

  • Carlo

    If this had been a normal bar where shooting occurred, it would have been just a local story and wouldn’t even make the national news. Since it was gays who were shot, it’s headline news. In the left’s worldview, the life of a homosexual is worth the lives of ten normal people. If someone shot 50 Christians, these people would be in the street popping champagne corks.

    • GaryB

      Exactly right.

    • millers3888

      You’re sick.

      • The Dove

        Nope – honest.

        Deceitful people always hate it when the truth is told.

      • Gitmo

        Which part of his article do you find egregious❓

  • Jim Chitty

    With all due respect, America doesn’t have a gun problem. America has a sin problem. As long as there are people bent on murdering others, they will find a way to do it, guns or no guns. Take all the guns away, they’ll use knives. Take all the knives away, they’ll find another weapon of choice. Those among us with a murderous spirit who are creative will figure how to kill someone with a rubber band if they’re determined enough. My point is, let’s address tbe real issue which is a heart condition, not the availability of guns.

    • Sam

      AMEN

    • O’Pinyon

      God will heal our land if we who are called by His name will do what He has prescribed.

  • Puddleglumm

    Good article…balanced and thoughtful.

  • GaryB

    Where are the souls of the 51 dead?

    • CbinJ

      Truly, this question is where my outrage lies. Potential lost souls because Christians and conservatives have not fought hard enough for the soul of our people. Now, when we do speak out, we are a miniority hated by our neighbors. So many hearts are hardened, it’s hard for me to see that good works now will change anything. Not to say people should not be doing good works, but things are just going to get worse–not better–for American Christians and conservatives.

  • davidrev17

    “There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:

    Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16-19/NASB)

    * * *

    Please, let [WE] professing followers of Yeshua/Jesus recognize the word “abomination,” in 6:16; and note that it’s the same Hebrew word [“toebah”] that we find used in verses like Leviticus 18:22-29 & 20:13; as well as within so many other contexts of sinful behavior in the Hebrew Bible – including its usage in texts particularly related to those identified as “the children of Israel.” Can you say Romans 6:23?

    And we should also note the conspicuous absence in (Proverbs 6:16-19), of any mention of sexual sins…period! (Perhaps Dr. Brown, as a Hebrew scholar, could expound upon this word & its significance in the 6:16-19 passage.)

    Yet, I would venture to say, and tragically too, that there’s probably so-called Christian’s who fill our church-pews throughout “post-Christian America,” on a regular basis, of whom perhaps routinely engage in a few of those “seven sins” [how about OUR tongues?] referred to as an “abomination” in those verses – and would perhaps think nothing of its utterly hypocritical “seriousness,” before a “three-times Holy God”?? (e.g., Matthew 7:1-5; 1 Peter 4:17-18)

    * * *

    “Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5/NASB)

    * * *

    Lord, have mercy on your people…WE desperately need you…bring US to genuine repentance…”revive” US NOW Lord…that we just might look, sound, and act like the Lord Yeshua/Jesus – in the midst of this “crooked and perverse generation.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

  • Cowboy

    It was 50 Americans – fellow citizens that were killed – doesn’t matter whether they were gay, straight, black, white or purple. They were our brothers and sisters – lost forever.

    • Jacqui G

      It was 49. The 50th was the gunman and he is not included in this count.

  • Charles Simpson

    Yes, its time to mourn.

  • Black Sails

    – Dr. Micheal Brown: Once again you continue to prove how P.C. you are, you bash Pamela Geller & the work she is doing! Have your pages been shut down or removed from Facebook? Do you have bounty on your head for speaking out against Islam? No, you don’t! You are proving once again, that you have no skin in this war. All of these articles & how you play the victim. You care more about Muslim feelings first as always.

    • Zebman

      What on earth? Michael’s response is balanced and loving, as always!

  • GaryB

    Is anyone still under the delusion that America is a united country?

    • Sam

      America is no longer, “united.” I say, thanks to politician’s. Especially these last 8 years. Most divisive.

    • Alan Gagg

      Yes,I believe that America is a United country I see it in different churches,I see it when 1000s go to give blood when there fellow citizens are injured & near death! The firefighter who runs into a burning building when he realizes a human being is in there!
      When a cop goes up against an armed criminal because a life is at stake!
      I see an America coming back to God as our leaders seem to be giving away our sovereignty to a godless UN! Yes I see one Nation under God indivisblewith liberty & justice for all. Yes I see a far left agenda who want a constitution with a globalization adjustment & a supreme court that will legislate from the bench with a president that with his pen wants to circumvent the balance of powers.But I have a God!
      A God who led people to the new world for freedom. People who have supplied 90% of the missionaries around the world! A people who have given food & supplies every year to those in need 2-3x as much as any group in the entire world!
      I believe that Trump will unite us even more because he has a heart for people all people!it’s more clear than ever that. He is the right man for the right Job @the right time! Go Trump!

      • GaryB

        I disagree. Liberals and conservatives want different things in life, including different laws. Christians and non-Christians want different lives and different laws too. I don’t believer America will ever “come back to God”. America has a fatal wound. The only question is, when will it breathe its last?

  • JohnFryters

    Very well balanced article on a very difficult subject. Thanks, Michael.

  • Yvonne Andrews

    As Deborah a mother in Israel arose, I look around and see the battle raging especially against our sons and daughters. We who believe must continue in prayer, fasting and speaking out the truth in love( We must be very strong and very courageous, NEVER BACK DOWN OR GIVE UP) Each of us can love and obey God first then with His divine love reach out to those around us and minister reconciliation, first to bring others back to Father God then to love and care for each other. We cannot be extreme on either side of the issues at hand. We need divine wisdom from God to fall upon our spiritual leaders as well as governmental leaders. We must proceed not by the power or might of men , but by the Spirit of the Almighty! These are the words of a spiritual Mother looking to Elohim for a healing in our land according to 2 Chronicles 7:14

  • SP

    What a wonderfully written written article. Jesus wishes that none should perish but that all might come to repentance and have eternal life. His love and grace are unfathomable to all. Only satan, who comes to steal, kill and destroy is behind such unspeakable horror. My heart is grieving and mourns with Orlando.

  • Mary

    I will honestly say that I do not understand the LGT lifestyle but I’ll be the first to say they have a God given right to live their lives as they see fit and not be targeted and murdered

    • GaryB

      But the rest of us also have the right to live our lives as we see fit. And some of us want nothing to do with lgbtq.

      • David Aaron

        Whether you like it or not both the Muslims and the LGBT are part of the harvest that Jesus commanded us to go and win to Christ and make disciples out of, so saying that you want nothing to do with them is disobedience to Christ.

        • GaryB

          I hear that some Muslims get saved. I hope that is true. I also hear that some sodomites get saved, but I don’t believe it.

          • David Aaron

            Just because you don’t believe it doesn’t make it true, you should check out Dennis Jernigan’s testimony on YouTube titled, I used to be gay. Dennis was gay but got saved at a 2nd Chapter of Actd concert back in the early Eighties and is now married with 9 kids and a Worship leader still to this day. Also check out on YouTube Kamran Yaraei’s testimony who used to be a Muslim but who also was powerfully saved. It sounds like you may be in denial. John 3:16 says whosoever believeth on Him shall be saved, thats how powerful Jesus is. He died for everyone and anyone can be saved if they will believe on Him.

          • GaryB

            Anyone who will repent of their sins and believe on Christ can be saved. But I have seen many people profess to have been saved, but their lives prove otherwise. I have to watch people FOR YEARS in order to conclude they really are believers. Maybe you don’t have to do that, but I do. I learned that just because someone claims to be a believer does not mean they really are.

          • David Aaron

            Well Dennis Jernigan has been saved for over 30 some years, still married to his wife, still a father to his 9 children, and still a worship leader. He has constantly in those 30 some years pubicly denounced the homosexual lifestyle and said it’s of the devil. Don’t know how much more proof you need, if you don’t think a homosexual can be saved you are definitely off and I’m not sure how you could truly fellowship with the brethren if you have a suspicious eye on everyone you encounter at your local church. I’ve seen people that are like that and it’s very sad, it’s pretty similar to how the Pharisees acted.

          • GaryB

            I take their word for their faith, unless they prove they are hypocrites. But I would not take the word of a “former homosexual”.

          • David Aaron

            So even though I proved that Dennis Jernigan is a born again believer you still don’t accept him as a brother but rather would judge him. Thank the Lord that Jesus is the perfect Judge and not you! You really need to renew your mind with the Word of God.

          • Jacqui G

            People like you give Christians a bad name.

      • Jacqui G

        If you don’t want anything to do with them, then leave them alone and stay away from them. Everyone will be much happier. Then again, a lot of people don’t want anything to do with racist bigots, but we have folks like you around.

  • Alan Gagg

    Go Trump!

  • Kostya2

    The American gun lobby must have an honest look at itself. It must also ask how a person like this can buy an automatic weapon like this so easily and learn to use it so openly.
    The fact that the club was a gun-free zone is irrelevant. In reality It wasn’t, was it?

    • How do we determine who might become “a person like this?”

      The American gun lobby has nothing to do with this.

      I am glad they are standing up for the 2nd Amendment.

      • Kostya2

        I am sure the 49 dead in Florida and the many thousands before them are not that glad for your great love of what you call freedom.

        • CbinJ

          Guns didn’t kill them, a person killed them. Tragedy is no excuse for ignorance. Tragedy doesn’t undermine the right to self-defense and to guard against tyrannical governments. (As far as I am concerned, The Constitution requires that the citizenry has a right to all arms the government has a right to.)

          Maybe…we should start taking to task the real issue–Islam. Nobody wants to do that, though, because that would require a look into theology and ultimately into Absolute Truth.

    • GaryB

      I think automatic weapons are illegal. He likely had guns that required him to pull the trigger each time the weapons were fired.
      I am not willing to give up any of my rights because other people make bad decisions.

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