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Some Religious Beliefs Kill: A Response to the Club Q Attack

Dear Friends,

The team at REAP wants you to know we grieve alongside you in the wake of the tragic event in Colorado Springs where 5 queer people lost their lives to murder at Club Q. The tragedy at Club Q did not happen in a vacuum. Many queer people raised in conservative Christian homes and churches are familiar with the dangerous theology of sexuality and gender that has been coming out of religious organizations based in Colorado Springs, organizations like Focus on the Family, for decades. For us, reading the news of the mass shooting at Club Q stirred up familiar feelings of fear, anger, and heartbreak. Our sense of safety is shaken, again. And we are mourning those we have lost. The geographic location of this tragedy is also stirring up our religious trauma. We were not murdered by gun violence in Colorado Springs, as were the beautiful queer souls taken from us this weekend. But we were tormented, and we sometimes lost loved ones to suicide, because of the dangerous theology coming from this epicenter of the white Christian Right. Many of the Christian ministries based in Colorado Springs propagate a dangerous form of white Christian supremacy that dehumanizes queer people by labeling us, our desires, our relationships, and our identities as sinful, perverse, worthy of hellfire, and akin to pedophilia, incest, and bestiality. Such beliefs are not innocent or excusable, even when sincerely held or motivated by religion. In practice, they are pernicious because they dehumanize and justify violence. And they inform and motivate the institutionalized anti-LGBTQIA+ discrimination that permeates our social, political, and legal systems. Not all religious beliefs have the same impact on human flourishing. Some religious beliefs, such as the Golden Rule and the command to look out for the poor and distressed, promote human flourishing. Other religious beliefs, such as “homosexuality is sinful,” “women should submit to men,” and “slaves obey your masters,” harm human flourishing and should not be described as decent or honorable by our courts, our Congress, or our churches. We do not need to honor religious beliefs, no matter how sincerely held, or how long they have been around, that deny our humanity and threaten our safety. The people murdered at Club Q were not deserving of death. Religious beliefs that target and dehumanize people are not harmless, and can lead to death. They are not the kind of religious beliefs that God considers good and pure. The people murdered at Club Q were deserving of love and safety. Our theologies, as well as our public policies, should treat them that way. For free counseling and mental health support, please contact the Trevor Project here: Trans Lifeline: Dial or text 988 on your phone for suicide and mental health-related crisis support. Sincerely, Paul Southwick, Director REAP


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