To the friends, families, and neighbors of the victims in Orlando: We, the global community of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, are with you.
We are - without qualification - with you. We grieve with you. We feel anger with you. We love you. Our prayers are with you.
To ourselves: We must reclaim a global ethic.
At the closing of the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions, a foundational declaration was released entitled Declaration Toward a Global Ethic, a document that serves as a moral compass guiding the Parliament’s work. It resolutely prohibits hate, discrimination, and murder on any basis as “irrevocable.”
In the great ancient religious and ethical traditions of humankind we find the directive: You shall not kill! Or in positive terms: Have respect for life! Let us reflect anew on the consequences of this ancient directive: All people have a right to life, safety, and the free development of personality insofar as they do not injure the rights of others. No one has the right physically to torture, injure, much less kill, any other human being. And no people, no state, no race, no religion has the right to hate, to discriminate against, to “cleanse,” to exile, much less to liquidate a “foreign” minority which is different in behavior or holds different beliefs.
- Declaration Toward A Global Ethic: Irrevocable Directives
In no uncertain terms, this “irrevocable directive” overrides any cultural, municipal or religious authorities’ work to enshrine homophobia in laws, lives and hearts.
In its encompassing language, however, The Global Ethic omits any specific language directing the interfaith movement in its relationship to the LGBTQI community.
In 2016, we will address this issue. Moreover, we seek your support and acceptance as we take steps to redress our silence surrounding the injustice of homophobia.
To the LGBTQI community around the world: We are sorry.
There is ultra-violent homophobia existing in the world. Brutal, senseless murder speaks loudly. But when the tumult quiets, it is easy to go on treating what happened in Orlando as an isolated, aberrant example of homophobia.
The reality is that an immeasurable degree of homophobia consists of subtle actions and words that are so ingrained in society that they escape notice, accepted in our neighborhoods and protected by our laws, our institutions, and our religions.
We will not ignore the existence of the homophobia that you experience every day. As an interfaith organization, we apologize.
We are sorry for the slow-burning hate that smolders at the heart of our most venerated traditions.
We are sorry for our complicity in allowing homophobia to persist as an “acceptable” form of discrimination, even as we champion justice.
To America: We must not let this divide us.
It is inexcusable to allow two marginalized minority groups to be pitted against one another. Let us together decry the opportunists in politics and religious extremist groups who have seized this tragedy as an opportunity to strengthen their positions of ill-gotten power.
Take notice and share in the efforts of the Muslim community as they rush to give blood, to provide aid, to denounce these crimes and the ideology behind them, both in Orlando and around the United States.
Listen to the members of the LGBTQI community who have used this unwelcome spotlight to speak against hate of all sorts, especially Islamophobia.
Remember that, no matter where you come from or what community you belong to, hate is hate.
To the religions of the world: Self-examination is now required.
49 people were murdered and 53 more were wounded in Orlando, USA on Sunday morning (June 12, 2016). This warrants a close look at the way we practice the teachings of our faith traditions. The fact is this; whether subtle or explicit, people of faith - both at the individual and community level - have found ways to justify hate.
These seeds of hate are not “theoretical.” They are factual, and they are ubiquitous. No faith community is exempt.
You may not have held the gun that extinguished 49 lives from the earth on Sunday morning.
You may have never perpetrated an act of discrimination against someone.
You may even be an active ally.
But collectively, we have all allowed hate to permeate our faith traditions, and the price that we pay is a world where acts of evil frequently erupt.
When we, the peaceful majority, stay silent, we clear the ideologue’s path to extremist violence. Our inaction has made us culpable.
But we are heartened by the outpouring of support from religious leaders and authorities who, in the wake of this mass murder, have committed to take action against the homophobia present in the world and within their own communities. New bonds of solidarity and love have been formed in the last two days; we must continue to build upon these relationships.
To the world: Let us love one another.
The persecution against LGBTQI communities demands equal priority, attention, reformation, and action, whether homophobia arises in the form of one unstable individual with an assault rifle or the actions and words of a multitude.
Starting now, let us pledge, in each of our spheres of influence, to uphold the irrevocable directive of The Global Ethic.
And, please, love each other.