The Orlando Nightclub Shooting of June 12, 2016

Annette and I extend our deepest sympathy to everyone affected by yesterday’s mass shooting at the Pulse LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida. We are heartbroken, sad, bewildered, and, yes, even angry over the slaughter of so many people due to bigotry.

As I write this, the details of what happened are still coming out. It is too early to come to any firm conclusions other than that this was a terrible act of violence and a terrible tragedy.

However, the initial indications are that the shooter was motivated primarily by bigotry and a violent character, which seems to have become mixed up in his mind with various Islamic extremist groups. If you feel spurred to act in response to this mass shooting, please join us today by showing kindness and love to your neighbor, especially any who are gay or Muslim.

We will not attempt to write any analysis or response to this tragedy so soon after it happened. However, we offer these previously posted articles for people who may be seeking some perspective on this horrific event:



Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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12 comments on “The Orlando Nightclub Shooting of June 12, 2016
  1. Özcan says:

    Indeed, a horrible and senseless massacre. Aside from the political aspects, there is one thing that strikes me as strange and absurd with the mindset of many fundamentalist Muslims and Christians. I wonder why are they so obsessed with sex. There are billions of people living in poverty, there are wars, mass murder, religious persecution, the destruction of the environment etc. but to fundamentalists these don’t seem to matter. However, when it comes to things like homosexuality they suddenly feel the need to rid the world of this “evil”.

      • Lee says:

        Hi Özcan,

        The supposed link between homosexuality and pedophilia is one of the common fallacies and falsities that fundamentalists commonly bandy about. In fact, Christian clergy in denominations that require celibacy or have very strict rules about sex are more likely to be pedophiles than are homosexuals. Anyone who links homosexuality and pedophilia is simply ignorant, and probably very bigoted, and should not be listened to.

        The “Christian pastor” who said these things is not Christian at all. He is an ignorant bigot.

        • Özcan says:

          Hi Lee,

          “The “Christian pastor” who said these things is not Christian at all. He is an ignorant bigot.”

          Isn’t this the typical “No true Scotsman” fallacy? 😉

        • Lee says:

          Hi Özcan,

          If a person acts in a way diametrically opposed to how Christ treated people and taught us to treat people, I think we can safely say that that person is not a Christian, no matter how loudly he or she claims to be one.

        • Özcan says:

          Hi Lee,

          Is there such a thing as an objective and reliable history of Jesus?

        • Lee says:

          Hi Özcan,

          No. The Gospels are the primary source, plus various other non-canonical Gospels that have come to light over the years. However, there is a scholarly pursuit of the “historical Jesus” that attempts to reconstruct the actual life of Jesus as compared to religious views of Jesus’ life.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Özcan,

      I wonder the very same thing. In fact, that is one of the points I make in the article, “Homosexuality, the Bible, and Christianity.” There are only five or six passages in the entire Bible that mention or refer to homosexual sex. And yet these so-called “Christians” make a huge deal about that and about other things that are hardly mentioned at all in the Bible, or aren’t mentioned at all, while ignoring the two Great Commandments, which are to love God above all and love our neighbor as ourselves.

      I believe these so-called “Christians” are the modern-day equivalent of religious leaders of Jesus’ day to whom said:

      Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. (Matthew 23:23-24)

  2. Charles says:

    Orlando gunman said he carried out the attack to get ‘Americans to stop bombing his country’. I doubted the ‘homophobia theory’

    Mateen may not have done this because he hated gays. He took surveillance trips to Disney World and shopping centers so he could have easily committed the shooting at those other places rather than the nightclub. The reason that he did the shooting at the nightclub instead was probably because he thought that the security levels at Disney World and shopping centers were too high and because he was already very familiar with the security of the nightclub. So the motive of this shooting should not be considered a “hate crime against gays” since he considered the attack at Disney World and other places.

    Also, he took hostages, he didn’t shoot everyone on the spot, so the motive may be more political rather than “hating gays”.

    Mateen was offended when someone at the knightclub made a joke about his religion. He was offended probably because they are joking about a repressed group (i.e. Muslims).

    This is similar to the San Bernardino shooting. Syed Farook choose the Inland Regional Center for the shooting because that’s where one of his coworkers work (Nicholas Thalasinos) and he was upset with him insulting his religion.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Charles,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment.

      It will be a while before we have the full story, so it’s best not to come to any firm conclusions yet. However, current reports are saying that the FBI believes the Pulse nightclub was Mateen’s only planned target.

      Further, we now know that Mateen had frequented that nightclub, was known to the regulars there, and had contacted some of them using a gay dating app. It seems likely, therefore, that Mateen was conflicted about his own sexuality, and that his attack on that particular gay nightclub was not random. Mateen was heavily influenced by the Afghan society from which his family and his father came—and Afghan society sends mixed messages about homosexuality. On that, see: “How Afghanistan’s mixed messages on homosexuality play into the Orlando shooting debate,” by Pamela Constable, at the Washington Post.

      So it seems likely that anti-gay bigotry did play a major role in the Orlando nightclub shooting, but in a more complex way than appeared at first.

      Mateen already had a combative and violent character, which can be traced all the way back to his elementary school years. The most likely scenario is that he was gay or bisexual, but his father and his culture of origin condemned homosexuality, and this led him to become a violent martyr “for the cause” in order to resolve his own inner conflict about his sexual orientation. And perhaps, in his mind, it was to ensure his place in heaven in the afterlife instead of being condemned to hell as a homosexual.

      However, as I said, until the case is fully investigated it’s best not to come to any firm conclusions.

  3. Frankly Frank says:

    Absent of incontravertible material evidence, when it comes to ‘matters of the heart’ there is no such thing as a firm conclusion IMO per se by another human. Subjectively firm conclusion yes, absolute certain evidential conclusion, no. I can agree with anyone about his litany of probable motives till the cows come home but honestly how do we really know? We’re talking about a mind and heart here. What is more complicated than these?

    To really know and understand the depth of any human’s motive at any given point in time I would have to be God.

    All I know is he wanted to kill a lot of people all at once and he was obviously determined. I can conjecture that inner anger was probable but as to whether he was angry with gay patrons because of some patriarchal sexual dynamic well that’s just beyond my pay grade.

    We will never know while on this earth the whole truth here!

    FF. 🙂

    • Lee says:

      Hi Frankly Frank,

      That is very true. We can never know for sure what is in another person’s heart. Not here in this world.

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Lee & Annette Woofenden

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