Do Good People Smile Behind Closed Doors When LGBTQ Folks Are Murdered?
When you heard about a shooter killing five people in a Colorado Springs LGBTQ
bar, were you happy or upset?
When you learned the alleged shooter was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints, were you proud or embarrassed? If you were embarrassed, was it
because of what “the world” might think? Was your embarrassment a matter of PR or do
you believe the man committed a horrific sin?
Are you a good witch or a bad witch?
I can’t help but make a Wizard of Oz reference. LGBTQ folks see the world through
oppression-colored glasses. Many of my former friends and family consider themselves
righteous, faithful followers of Jesus Christ. They’re so good, in fact, they can’t bear to
associate with me any longer.
I’m gay, after all. If cleanliness is next to godliness, homosexuality is next to devil
Every February 5, I remember the day of my baptism. Every September 4, I
remember the day I entered the Missionary Training Center. Every November 4, I
remember the day I first arrived in Rome to work as a full-time Mormon missionary.
The truth is that most of the right-wing pundits, politicians, and religious leaders who
say the terrible things that inevitably lead to murder wanted the outcome in Colorado
Springs. The attack wasn’t an unfortunate accident because some “crazy” person
“misunderstood” or “took things too far.”
Most of these folks are barely hiding their excitement or are even openly gleeful at
the result. Whether or not they say so in public, they’re exhilarated their hateful words
succeeded in bringing about the death of LGBTQ people and their allies. This latest
killing won’t shock them into realizing the error of their ways. They see that their
ways—hatred and lies—work to achieve their goal. They aren’t backing away from that
rhetoric because they want the slaughter to keep happening.
Unless you also want that same outcome, you can’t wait for the people you’ve
admired for years to change their messaging and allow you to stop wishing for and
encouraging murder. Lying for the Lord is still lying. Hating for the Lord is still hating.
Murdering for the Lord is still murdering. That’s problematic, of course, because
LDS scriptures do condone murder. We might take this opportunity then to also
reconsider whether or not such doctrine constitutes a problem with our canon. It was LDS leaders, after all, who gave us LDS scripture. Will we keep following blindly even when
asked to lie, hate, and kill?
I remember going through the temple for the first time and consenting to have my
throat slit, consenting to disembowelment, if I ever revealed the secret handshakes
allowing faithful Mormons access to heaven. Everyone present blithely agreed to the
Recently, leaders of the LDS Church came out in support of marriage equality,
finally acknowledging that they are perfectly free to tell their own members how to live
while still granting the right of non-Mormons to make major life choices for themselves.
This is good, even if LGBTQ folks and our allies are naturally suspicious, given the
vitriol from Spencer W. Kimball, Boyd K. Packer, and many others, given the Prop 8
campaign, the Proclamation on the Family, and the 2015 Exclusion Policy barring
children of LGBTQ parents from baptism and other church ordinances.
LDS leaders have treated their church like a High Sierra forest during increasingly
arid conditions, planting shrubs and wildflowers and young trees that soon wither, until
the forest is filled with dry kindling in the midst of a record drought. It doesn’t even
matter who tosses the match. Right-wing leaders of all types have created the conditions
ripe for an explosive fire.
Were you one of those people cracking gay jokes at church? Did you teach the youth
that gay men and trans women are abominations?
Were you secretly hoping that someone else’s kid would do the world a favor by
killing some of these undesirables? Or did you merely hope to teach LGBTQ kids self-
loathing, believing that alone was enough of a good deed?
Words lead to thoughts which lead to actions. We preach this principle when
encouraging our youth to remain stalwart. But that same pipeline exists when preaching
hatred, disdain, and condemnation.
If “I was just following orders” didn’t work at Nuremburg, do we think it will work
on Judgment Day?
Do we ever need to take responsibility for our own words, actions, and attitudes
when they push someone else to murder the objects of our repulsion?
Are we aiding and abetting? Are we accomplices? Co-conspirators?
If you think murdering LGBTQ folks is doing God’s will, there’s no conversation to
be had. But if you think it’s wrong, it’s time to take stock.
Latter-day Saints, Christians of all denominations, and the faithful of every religion
who believe in “family values” must take a stand. There’s no fence-sitting here. No
lukewarm shrug. You’ve found yourselves, wittingly or not, on the side of hate. Is that
what you intended? Or do you now realize you were led astray despite your sincere faith?
In the wake of these latest killings, almost all right-wing pundits and preachers are
doubling down on their hate. Is that what you’re going to do as well?
They won’t change their minds.