Why I need to "be there"

The horrific news of the killings at a Tennessee Unitarian Universalist church has hit me hard. Clearly the man who did the shooting was desperate and unbalanced, but why did he choose this place to begin shooting? According to the New York Times:

A man who the police say entered a Unitarian Universalist church in Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday and shot eight people, killing two, was motivated by a hatred for liberals and gay people, Chief Sterling P. Owen IV of the Knoxville Police Department said Monday.

So, was this a “gay” church? No. But according to Out & About, it had just put up a sign recently “welcoming gays to the congregation.”

Yes, “welcome” as in the “we are all God’s children” kind of welcome. Do you remember what I wrote on Sunday about the Episcopal church I’ve been attending?

However, the congregation at this church is a little bi-polar. On the one hand, the inside of the bulletin proclaims that “We welcome all ages and abilities, classes and cultures, races, genders, and sexual orientations.” Yet, in the monthly newsletter it’s reported that a group of 20 met to discuss questions of division and exclusion. The article says “All answers and/or experiences were positive. However, we did not commit to being included on the list of friendly churches for persons of other orientations.”

What will my neighborhood church do now? I mean, if they didn’t want to advertise being gay friendly before, they’re sure not going to be happy about it now. Probably, they’ll want the gays of the congregation to keep a low profile, not call attention to this church. You know, step back into the closet. Except the problem with that attitude is that we give up an important piece of who we are, while these hateful people still rule the airwaves:

Rush Limbaugh: “I tell people don’t kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus — living fossils — so we will never forget what these people stood for.”

Melanie Morgan: “A great deal of good could be done by arresting Bill Keller having him lined up against the wall and shot.”

Ann Coulter:
LINDA VESTER (host): You say you’d rather not talk to liberals at all?
COULTER: I think a baseball bat is the most effective way these days.

“Sock” Sokolowski, to Stephanie Miller:
As with Cindy Sheehan the best thing that could happen to you would be seeing some WONDERFUL activist sticking an AK-47 up your Glory Holes and sending you into eternity.

(List from Orcinus)

Don’t think these words have no effect:

Investigators said they found copies of “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder” by radio talk show host Michael Savage, “Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism” by radio and TV host Sean Hannity, and “The O’Reilly Factor,” by radio and TV host Bill O’Reilly.

On Sunday I wrote a long post about trying to decide whether I would continue attending this particular church now that the gay-friendly rector has left. I also wrote about the strange phenomenon wherein you seem to be in a place and time for a purpose. I think I’m beginning to understand it now.

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8 comments

  1. wow, followed a link from Quaker Agitator and found you. What a splendid blog. You are certainly in line with my thinking. I’m adding you to my blogroll and will be a regular visitor.

  2. You are just the woman to “be there.” I hope we can all “be there” where ever we find ourselves.

  3. The tentacles of hate reach far and wide. It’s when I read a post like this that I’m reminded of that.

    I hope you can find a place to worship where you will feel welcomed.

  4. You were the first person I thought of when I saw this news.

    Sue, it is the reason why we have to be accounted for.

    I take my kids to a UU church. I am a Unitarian Universalist. It is a welcoming, open congregation. Geeze, I’m welcome and I’m an atheist.

    they had just received a grant for 4K from the UU funding group for a LGBT youth cafe.

    to create a safe place for kids.

    we have to do this.

  5. When I first heard about this shooting, they hadn’t given much information. Of course, it’s obvious the guy is mentally deranged and has been for a long time. What can I say? Hate breeds hate and we have plenty of that in our world and with people like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to help fuel the fires, I fear that this won’t be the last of this type of thing.

    I remember the days when the church doors were left unlocked 24/7. Now, they have to be locked even when services or activities are going on.

    So sad…but I’m glad you’re not backing away. There are too many messengers of hate…we need more messengers of truth and love.

  6. DCup, I did feel welcomed by the Rector; it will be very interesting to see what the mood is now that she is gone.

    Sara, the fact that this happened in a UU church is just especially heartbreaking, because I know many UUs and attended All Souls in DC when I lived there. I have never met a more open and welcoming group of people than those at any UU church service I have ever attended.

    Mary Ellen, if you haven’t seen the documentary “For the Bible Tells Me So” yet, I find it very comforting — those interviewed are so many articulate, loving, religious people. I hear them speak and hear what they’ve endured and I can’t help but think that there is indeed a movement of “truth and love” as you say.

    even for the atheists 😉

  7. While I would vigorously defend freedom of speech – the hate speech in our media is hard to wrap one’s head around.

    Still I do believe the world is moving to a more tolerant place.

    -janet

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