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Religious Tolerance logo

Religiously-inspired violence.
2016-JUN: The Orlando, FL mass
murder at The Pulse LGBT nightclub:


Reactions to the massacre (Cont'd).

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This topic is continued here from Part 1.

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Reactions to the massacre (Continued):

  • Buddy Dyer, the Mayor of Orlando, said:

    "This tragedy will not define us, but will bring us together, because we are ONE Orlando." 1

  • The Better Business Bureau of Central Florida quoted Mayor Dyer as saying:

    "I have announced the formation of the OneOrlando Fund. The purpose of the Fund is to provide a way to help respond to the needs of our community, now and in the time to come, after the effects of the Pulse nightclub tragedy.

    The distribution of the funds will be administered by the Central Florida Foundation. The Foundation serves as the region’s community foundation and is home to more than 400 charitable funds.

    The Fund will support:

    • Nonprofits that are supporting the victims and families;

    • The LGBTQ, Hispanic, faith and other affected communities;

    • Underlying causes of this tragic event;

    • Other needs we cannot anticipate until we face them." 2

Details on how to make a personal donation to the Fund are available on the Better Business Bureau's site. 2

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  • Mayor Dyer wrote elsewhere on the City of Orlando web site:

    "Yesterday was the most horrific day in the history of the City of Orlando. And yet, I stand here today even more proud of our community because they came together, united to support the families and friends of the victims.

    We learned of the heroic acts of our Orlando Police Department as well as other law enforcement, as well as our citizens as hundreds of lives were saved throughout the night. And the medical personnel that saved so many lives that were transported to the hospital are heroes.

    I cannot imagine being one of the parents or being one of the loved ones who learned your loved one was deceased.

    The FBI did an unbelievable job clearing the scene. By 11 p.m., all victims were removed from the scene by FDLE. I want to complement the medical examiner and FDLE for the work they did all night long, making identifications of victims and notifying next of kin. ..."

    We will not be defined by the act of a cowardly hater. We will be defined by how we respond, how we treat each other." 3

  • Some evangelical Christian pastors discussed the event in their Sunday sermon, a few hours after the massacre ended:
    • Roger Jimenez is the pastor of Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento, CA. Their web site describes their church as a place where the Christian message:
          "... is never watered down or compromised. We strive to be a church where you can come and learn the truths of God’s word." 4

      He said:

      "I think Orlando, Florida is a little safer tonight. The tragedy is more of them didn’t die…. I’m kind of upset he didn’t finish the job!”

    He also said if it were up to him, gays and lesbians would be assembled together so that a firing squad could "blow their brains out."

    His sermon was posted on You Tube, who removed it two days later because it violated the site's policy on hate speech. 4

    In response to his homophobic statements:

    • The Sacramento City Pastors Fellowship, a group of 700 area pastors, issued a statement saying:

      "These comments, applauding the death of innocent people, are completely contrary to the Bible's teaching and God's heart. His statements do not represent Jesus nor hundreds of Sacramento pastors whose hearts have been broken and are praying for the loved ones so tragically affected by this cowardly act." 5

    • Many hundreds of protestors gathered for a demonstration in front of Verity Baptist Church.

    • The church's landlord, Harsch Investment Properties, informed the church that their lease will not be renewed when it runs out next spring. To encourage the church to move earlier, they offered to terminate the lease sooner without penalty.

    • Harsch executives issued a statement saying:

      "We stand with those who make their voices heard: Intolerance and hate are not the values that have made our country great. We have many places of worship and other religious organizations in the properties we manage. Like all our tenants, their occupancy rights are protected in their leases, but we will not tolerate tenants who advocate hatred and the taking of innocent lives." 5

    • Donnie Romero of Stedfast Baptist Church in Fort Worth, TX said in a sermon that he agreed "100 percent" with Rev. Jimenez. He said:

      "These 50 sodomites are all perverts and pedophiles, and they’re the scum of the earth. ... The earth is a little bit better place now." 6

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    • The Westboro Baptist Church is famous for its anti-gay messages. It has been called a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. On the day of the shooting, they issued multiple tweets:
      • "Seems only right for Sodom America!"

      • "Add[s] a whole new meaning to fag chant 'We're #1, were #1."

      • "God opened His armory to deal with proud fag america (in mass shooting at #Pulse nightclub.)"

      • "God hates fags. God sent the shooter. God hates murderer Omar Mateen. Omar Mateen & slain fags are in hell. Repent! 7

    Later, Westboro Church members protested at the funerals of some of the victims of the Orlando shooting. Staff and volunteers from the American Theatre, the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, and others from the Orlando arts community formed the Angel Action Wings Project. They fabricated enormous wings made of fabric and formed a human chain to block views of the Westboro Church demonstrators. A large sign faced the Westboro protestors saying: "Love is Stronger than Hate."


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This topic continues in Part 3.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Lucy Bayly, "As Donations Flood in for Orlando Victims, Where's the Money Going?," NBC News, 2016-JUN-17, at:
  2. Buddy Dyer, "Orlando's Mayor Dyer announces the formation of OneOrlando Fund," Better Business Bureau of Central Florida, 2016, at:
  3. "We will be Defined by How we Respond, How we Treat Each Other," City of Orlando, 2016-JUN-13, at:
  4. "Verity Baptist Church," at:
  5. , "Sacramento pastor, amid backlash, defends sermon praising Orlando killings," Los Angeles Times, 2016-JUN-14, at:
  6. Julieta Chiquillo, "Fort Worth pastor calls Orlando shooting victims ‘the scum of the earth’," Dallas News, 2016-JUN-20, at:
  7. " 'Angels' protect Orlando from Westboro protestors," Fox 35, Orlando, 2016-JUN-18, at:
  8. Reneé LaSalle, "Pagan and evangelical ministers agree: Orlando shootings were not ‘God’s wrath’," WCMH-TV, 2016-JUN-16, at:
  9. Hemant Mehta, "Westboro Baptist Church: Gay Victims of Nightclub Massacre Brought Death Upon Themselves," Patheos, The Friendly Atheist blog, 2016-JUN-12, at:
  10. Bishop Robert Lynch, "Orlando, Orlando, we love you," Diocese of St. Petersburg, 2016-JUN-13, at:
  11. Fr. Mark A. Pilon, "Bishop Lynch should be forced to resign his office," The Catholic World Report, 2016-JUN-22, at:
  12. Section 2358, Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Vatican, undated, at:

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Copyright © 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2016-JUN-17
Latest update : 2016-JUN-24
Author: B.A. Robinson

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