Misattributing Evil

on June 13, 2016

United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcano of the California-Pacific Conference responded to the Orlando gay nightclub mass murders by a reported pro-ISIS Islamist with the suggestion that her denomination’s traditional marriage teaching is to blame:

As I have prayed for the victims of this latest shooting, for the shooter and his family, for the people of Orlando, and for us, I have been struck by a concern that has penetrated my heart. Is it possible that we United Methodists with such a negative attitude and position against LGBTQI persons contribute to such a crime? When we say that those who are of a homosexual gender identity are living lives that are incompatible with Christian teaching, that they are not to be included in our ordained leadership, and that they are not important enough for us to invest resources of the Church in advocating for their well-being, in essence when we say that our LGBTQI brothers and sisters are not worthy of the fullness of life that Christ offers us all, are we not contributing to the kind of thinking that promotes doing harm to these our brothers and sisters, our children, the sacred children of God?

United Methodism’s definition of marriage as the union of man and woman is unexceptionably the official and historic stance of about 99% of organized Christianity, including Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and nearly every Protestant tradition except a handful of shrinking denominations in northwestern Europe and North America.

The Orlando killer, Omar Mateen, was the son of a pro-Taliban Afghan immigrant.  It’s unlikely he ever heard of United Methodism.  To the extent that he had any views about Christianity they were almost certainly hostile.  Since he professed support for ISIS he likely supported ISIS persecution and murder of Christians.  ISIS practices traditional Islamic law, which requires death for homosexuals.  Several Islamic regimes stipulate death penalties for homosexuals, including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.  Bishop Carcano in her blog about Orlando never mentions the killer or his ISIS or Islamist connection. She only faults the United Methodist Church.

There is a myopic vein of Western multiculturalism popular within liberal Protestantism that assumes the world is safe and beautiful but for the crimes of Western Civilization and Christianity.  There are indeed many crimes attributable to denizens of both, but neither invented nor has a monopoly on crime, which has always been endemic to the human experience. This vein of multiculturalism is typically incapable of admitting sins within other cultures and religions, preferring to see them only as victims.

In 2004 I submitted a series of resolutions to the United Methodist General Conference critiqueing some of the world’s worst human rights abusers according to groups like Amnesty International, such as North Korea, China, Iran, Cuba, among others. They were all defeated in the Church and Society legislative committee.  One critic complained I was targeting anti-American regimes.  But I included Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco and Pakistan, which are traditional U.S. strategic allies. My resolutions cited harsh penalties for homosexuals by both Islamic and communist regimes.  Yet there was no interest even by United Methodist activists who profess to support gay rights.

In this vein, a prominent pro-LGBTQ delegate from last month’s United Methodist General Conference named Dorothee Benz has been tweeting in support of Bishop Carcano’s blog blaming United Methodism and Christianity for Orlando, plus expressing  solidarity with Muslims, without citing radical Islam.  No criticism or mention of the killer or his professed Islamist motivation.

Written hours after the ugly news from Orlando, Bishop Carcano’s blog was maybe composed hastily. I hope she edits or deletes it.  I also hope that some day within official United Methodism, among other places in our culture, there is a more grounded and universal perspective about human evil, embodied by ISIS and the Orlando killer.

Meanwhile, here’s a heartfelt response to the Orlando horror by Upper New York United Methodist Bishop Mark Webb, who concludes:

Lord, in your mercy allow goodness to overcome evil and light to pierce the darkness, comfort those who mourn, touch those who need your healing and provide peace in the midst of fear. Lord, in your mercy allow goodness to overcome evil and light to pierce the darkness.

  1. Comment by JohnEpiscopal on June 13, 2016 at 2:08 am

    Where are the condolences, prayers, and thoughts from Tooley and the IRD? They aren’t here. While not praying or thinking others, especially of us LGBT people today and more especially of the LGBT and allies victims and their families, you found the time to attack a bishop for daring to pray and stand with us? This exposes the shallow and heartless character of IRD. Sickening.

  2. Comment by Mike Ward on June 13, 2016 at 6:28 am

    Carcano is exploiting the tragedy to attack his own denomination. Go complain to him.

  3. Comment by Joan Watson on June 13, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Carcano is not standing in support of you, she is exploiting the situation to further her agenda. As a United Methodist, I am grateful that Mark Tooley is calling her out on it. I am embarrassed that she is a bishop in The United Methodist Church. And you have completely ignored or missed the ending of the article.

  4. Comment by James Rice on June 13, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Check the end of the post. it quotes, ” by Upper New York United Methodist Bishop Mark Webb, who concludes:

    Lord, in your mercy allow goodness to overcome evil and light to pierce the darkness, comfort those who mourn, touch those who need your healing and provide peace in the midst of fear. Lord, in your mercy allow goodness to overcome evil and light to pierce the darkness.”

  5. Comment by Sernie Banders on June 13, 2016 at 3:03 am

    IRD is part of the problem, not a solution- that much has ALWAYS been obvious! They have blood on their hands, but can’t seem to find the decency, the intelligence, or the very grace of God to admit it!

  6. Comment by Palamas on June 13, 2016 at 9:28 am

    This post of yours is the very definition of insane. Place the blame where it belongs, not on your political enemies.

  7. Comment by Mark Brooks on June 13, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Sernie Banders may just be trolling.

  8. Comment by Joan Watson on June 13, 2016 at 10:18 am

    If it is so bad, then why do you read it?

  9. Comment by Gregg on June 13, 2016 at 6:30 am

    Terrible news out of Orlando yesterday.

    Of course, one of the subtexts that the left is already pushing is that America, collectively, is hateful and fearful of homosexuals – in the case cited above – it’s Christians who are the worst perpetrators of this un-Christian mentality.

    However, news reports indicate that hundreds and hundreds of people have been lining up to give blood to help the survivors of this jihadi terrorist attack. Everyone knows and knew that the victims are all gay, and yet the good citizens of Central Florida continue to line up to give their own life blood.

    On the other hand, who may not donate blood to help the victims? Why, other gay men, that’s who! According to the American Red Cross, people who fit the following profile (among others) may not donate blood:

    – have ever used needles to take drugs, steroids, or anything not prescribed by your doctor

    – are a male who has had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977

    – have ever taken money, drugs or other payment for sex since 1977

    – have had sexual contact in the past 12 months with anyone described above

    So basically, as the narrative goes, “hateful, homophobic” Americans, probably many of whom are gun owners and “conservative Christians,” are lining up to help save the lives of gay party boys, drag queens and revelers. These same people will be denounced by the press today for also being Islamophobic.

  10. Comment by Diaris on June 13, 2016 at 7:54 am

    If a gay man – remember Floyd Corkins? – killed 50 evangelical Christians, it wouldn’t even make the national news.

  11. Comment by Mark Brooks on July 1, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    Thanks for reminding people of this.

  12. Comment by Dave Nuckols on June 13, 2016 at 9:18 am

    You are twisting the good bishop’s words. She was not saying our stance caused this specific tragedy. But she pointed out that our teachings do contribute to homophobia.

    Actions at GC and recent NGa AC shows we have a problem with homophobia when we can’t show compassionate support for LGBTQ persons being victimized for being who they are. We saw this repeatedly in the CS2 committee at GC. And more recently this report from North Georgia: https://www.rmnetwork.org/newrmn/north-georgia-annual-conference-amends-lgbtq-people-out-of-resolution-on-suicide-and-homelessness/

    I’m not saying those events are directly tied to the Orlando mass murder either. But I’m saying the UMC does have a stain of homophobia that we should acknowledge, root out and repent of.

    There are more UNC-specific examples of or sin. Remember Ben:

    Obviously ISIS and radical jihad is part of the Orlando equation also. So too our lax gun laws play a part in it. We ought to support our government in combatting those aspects as well.

    We can’t just point out the sins of others and wait for actions of others. We Christians are called to see our own sin, repent of it and unroot it.

  13. Comment by Joan Watson on June 13, 2016 at 10:17 am

    Lax gun laws are to blame? There was not one gun involved in the Boston Marathon bombing; so I guess by your logic we now have to stop selling nuts and bolts! And you totally ignore the report about the number of people who are donating blood on behalf of the victims! One thing I have come to realize about some liberal/progressives is that you have become so immersed in this one issue you are completely incapable of seeing a bigger picture–which is exactly what Mark Tooley is trying to provide! Just because I do not believe that LGBTQI people are living the life God intended for us to live does not equate to wanting to harm them or to seeing them harmed in such a horrible way; I simply disagree with them! This is a free country and they are free to live the way they want to live . The problem within the UMC is there are liberal/progressives who want to force their beliefs on me and actually go so far as to condemn me that I should dare have beliefs that differ from theirs; that is not the definition be being a liberal but defines very well a fundamentalist. A true liberal lives by the understanding of personal freedom that has served me well for 63 years: My freedom ends where yours begins and vice versa!

  14. Comment by Ken M on June 13, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Who exactly is “the good bishop”?
    Not the one that supports the homosexual agenda.
    If this bishop is “good,” that means the apostle Paul was “bad.”

    I’ll side with Paul.

  15. Comment by Puddleglumm on June 13, 2016 at 9:49 pm


  16. Comment by the_enemy_hates_clarity on June 13, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Mr. Nuckols, you are wrong. Bishop Carcano did not say UM teachings “contribute to homophobia.” What she said was “we United Methodists….contribute(d) to such a crime.” She clearly stated that those who hold to the orthodox Christian teachings contained in our Discipline are at least partly responsible for the bloodshed in Orlando.

    In Christ,

    The enemy hates clarity

  17. Comment by Xander Bogart on July 4, 2016 at 10:56 am

    Actually the good bishop suggested UMC positions contributed to the Orlando killings, using a rhetorical question.

  18. Comment by Xander Bogart on July 4, 2016 at 11:00 am

    No guns at WTC either – or dozens of other bombings.

  19. Comment by Palamas on June 13, 2016 at 9:32 am

    Not only is Carcano’s blog post idiotic and morally unhinged (who blames someone completely unconnected to a crime for it commission?), but it is extraordinarily solipsistic. Does she really think that the stance of United Methodism on ANYTHING contributed in any way to the formation of Mateen’s hatred of homosexuals? Is she so completely ignorant of Islam that she is unaware of the condemnation and penalties for homosexuality regularly employed in Islamic countries governed by the sharia law that Mateen’s father advocated in his support of the Taliban? Does she have even a glimmer of the truth that not everything that happens in the world is about her and her denomination?

  20. Comment by Vanni Tilzey on June 13, 2016 at 10:16 am

    I am sure that many take
    the first few chapters of Genesis in the Bible to be at best an allegory and
    possibly even a myth. If so that makes the whole New Testament a myth too
    because much of what is stated there is allusion to old testament. I don’t take
    it as a myth. Now to my point. In Genesis God created man (Adam). He let Adam
    see all the animals and Adam found none of them to be suitable helpers for him.
    Then God created Eve. This pause between the creation of Adam and Eve was for
    the express purpose of showing how important the Marriage relationship was, and
    is, and is to be. Jesus Christ Himself, pointed out the marriage relationship
    by quoting Genesis and saying, “For this reason a man shall leave his
    father and mother and be united to his wife. And the two shall become one
    flesh.” That is why almost all religions throughout history have held the
    traditional marriage institution so intensely.

    I am in no way supporting what was done in Orlando. This act was reprehensible
    and cowardly. I am only pointing out that the preponderance of religions base
    their views on marriage on what they believe God created it to be. So this Bishop
    may as well be blaming God.

  21. Comment by Vanni Tilzey on June 13, 2016 at 10:32 am

    It’s hard to understand why a leader in the church has no idea why they believe in traditional marriage. This church says they believe the Bible. It might be good if they actually knew what the Bible says. Especially a Bishop.

  22. Comment by Philip on June 13, 2016 at 11:15 am

    Exploiting any tragedy to score political points is just disgusting. While we are stretching logic, let’s consider that maybe Christianity contributes to sharia law.

  23. Comment by Sven2S47 on June 14, 2016 at 11:48 am

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever read. You obviously have no clue about religions. Awesome ignorance.

  24. Comment by Philip on June 28, 2016 at 11:37 am

    I guess sarcasm is lost on cartoons.

  25. Comment by Mark Brooks on June 13, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    This event, the Orlando mass-murder of gays by an Islamic terrorist, is a problem for the social left, since it contradicts their narratives. Given their straight-jacketed mental universe, they have to pretend somehow, in some way, that the people they hate are the ones responsible. Because admitting the truth is something they cannot conceive.

  26. Comment by MarcoPolo on July 1, 2016 at 8:17 am

    In one respect you’re correct, a hateful person committed this heinous act. But how it becomes a problem for (just) the social left? … I’m not seeing that.

    Being Gay or Lesbian doesn’t put one on the Left, versus ANYWHERE else on the political spectrum. That would seem inaccurate, unfair and unnecessary, as there are many LGBT people who all over the social-political map!

    And THAT, is the truth everybody can conceive.

  27. Comment by Mark Brooks on July 1, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    An Islamic terrorist, MarcoPolo. Can you actually type the phrase? You are proving my point.

    You can’t blame this one on Christians, MarcoPolo, though I’m sure you’d like to. That’s usually what you do over on JuicyEcumenism.

  28. Comment by MarcoPolo on July 2, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    Sure I can say AND type the words: “Islamic Terrorist”. But the pathetic individual who perpetrated the heinous act (according to testimonies and questioning of many individuals in the Orlando region) the shooter wasn’t known by, or even associated with any known terrorist group such as ISIS.
    It turns out, he acted on his self-loathing about his own sexuality. Perhaps he had some affection for the Sharia aspect of Fundamental Islam? A “Hate Crime” for sure!

    Either way, it is not necessary to cite one’s religion when describing ones crimes. After all, when Timothy McVeigh bombed the Federal building in Oklahoma, the press didn’t call him a Radical Fundamentalist Christian…which he was!
    So let’s just allow further investigation before condemning a religion that may be different than your own.

  29. Comment by Mark Brooks on July 2, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    MarcoPolo, the notion that Omar Mateen was some sort of self-hating homosexual, rather than the Islamic terrorist he expressly claimed to be, has already been thoroughly debunked.

    You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. Shame on you for lying just to avoid the truth.

    Oh, and McVeigh was an agnostic, like yourself, and explicitly said so. That’s another lie you told. Shame on you again.

  30. Comment by MarcoPolo on July 2, 2016 at 9:25 pm

    I wasn’t posting a “notion”.

    A staff member at CAIR, named Laila Abdelaziz, was explaining Friday night on a local PBS station (WEDU) in Tampa, that her three week long investigation of the incident revealed exactly what I stated.

    Sorry to disappoint you.

  31. Comment by Mark Brooks on July 2, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    A staff assistant at CAIR? LOL. By all means, believe the “investigation” of the American arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that has every reason to lie. How strange that no other investigative body can find so much as a shred of evidence to support such nonsense. But then, you are the one that insists that the agnostic Timothy McVeigh was a radical Christian fundamentalist, a lie that has also been debunked many times over, and by McVeigh himself.

    MarcoPolo, you really do live in your own little bubble. By all means, grasp at straws, and believe lies rather than the truth when you need it to sustain your worldview. As I have said, you are the proof of what I asserted in my original post.

  32. Comment by MarcoPolo on July 2, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    No problem! I love you too!
    Thanks for caring so much.

  33. Comment by Puddleglumm on June 13, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    More of the typical liberal narrative (gay is great, Biblical Christianity is bad, Islam is a peaceful religion, and it’s all about guns) by non-Christians posing as Christian leaders. The scriptures warn us about these false teachers many times.

  34. Comment by Puddleglumm on June 13, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    And I might add….how does blaming United Methodism or Christians in general help those who lost love ones due to the act of a violent Islamic jihadist? As others said, she is exploiting the situation to promote her agenda.

  35. Comment by Pat Hines on June 14, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    This is what comes of making a woman bishop, which is prohibited by the Apostles. Remove her and stop permitting women in this role.

  36. Comment by MarcoPolo on July 1, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Now THAT suggestion is definitely taking a BIG step BACKWARDS!

  37. Comment by Pat Hines on July 2, 2016 at 11:47 pm

    I’m a Christian, I attempt to live up to Christ’s teachings, and the power he settled on the Apostles.

    1 Timothy 2:12
    But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

  38. Comment by MarcoPolo on July 3, 2016 at 11:43 am

    If one would dare promote THAT ‘Olde World’ patriarchal hegemony into the contemporary world, I would say, Good Luck with that!
    But in reality, that Old Testament mentality will surely spell doom to advancing any sort of equality among Humanity today.

    Knowing History is one thing, promoting an ill fated power structure for the sake of adhering to the tenets of patriarchal dominance is just foolishly old fashioned and out of step with advances in Science, Physiology, Paleontology, Philosophy and not to mention common sense!

    I can’t tell whether I’m addressing a male or female in response to Pat Hines. And it doesn’t, and shouldn’t matter because truth knows no gender.

    If your position on this matter soothes your heart and conscience, I’m happy for you. But please know that today, we face more pressing issues than the Apostles ever did!


  39. Comment by Pat Hines on July 3, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    I have no interest in egalitarian nonsense. As an idea, it’s well past its “use by date”.

  40. Comment by MarcoPolo on July 3, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Good luck moving into the future with that attitude.

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