Letter to the editor: Religion not to blame for hate

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Religion not to blame for hate

Thank you for your coverage of the tragedy in Orlando, including how it affects people living in our local community. Adding to the heartbreak of the "facts" of the event are the waves of fear and hatred and distortions of blame, if not outright lies, that continue to ripple out. As far as we can tell at this point, the shooter was not a practicing Muslim, was born in the U.S., had anger issues, had frequented the Pulse Club himself, had been under FBI investigation, and yet was able to legally purchase his weapons of slaughter. So it is that to single out his religion, or his citizenship, or his mental instability, or his sexual identity exploration as motivation for this horrific crime or representative of all others in those categories does not serve the common good.

I was saddened to read the response of one of the local LGBTQ community in today's article, who said that "religion fuels hate." "If your religion requires you to hate," as one of the photos making the rounds on Facebook says, "you need a new religion."

All the world religions, at their best, teach love and compassion. Which, obviously, doesn't mean that some people who claim to adhere to a religion do hate, do hateful things, say hateful things. But to paint all religious people with the brush of hate is as unfair as painting all gay people as pedophiles, or all Mexicans as rapists and criminals, or all refugees as terrorists. It is in fact our "religion" that inspires us at Second Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, to affirm that "we welcome all people of faith or in search of faith, without regard to age, race, economic condition, disability, or sexual orientation to our work and worship."

— Rev. Mary H. Lee-Clark, pastor, Second Congregational Church. U.C.C. Bennington

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