At Christ Church Cathedral (CCC) on Monument Circle Thursday, clergy from different faiths and denominations gathered in response to the massacre at a gay Florida nightclub earlier this week.
They mourned the lives lost, showing their pictures and names and lighting a candle for each soul gunned down early Sunday morning. But they also talked about the violence and hate that targeted a particularly vulnerable part of our society.
“We are standing against violence against this community,” says Rev. Steve Carlson, dean and rector at the downtown church, referring to the LGBT community. “And we also believe that it’s very important that the community to which this violence is being directed be named. Not just generally talking about hate or generally talking against terror. This was directed on purpose against a gay club and also on Latino night. We have to name that.”
The investigation to the shooting and the now deceased gunman has been clouded by the gunman’s pledge to ISIS and other known terrorist groups. The violence was quickly called an “act of terrorism” in accordance to the definition Congress gave the term shortly after 9/11. But, as Rev. Carlson points out, the fact that this horrific deed happened in a safe haven for Orlando’s LGBT community on a night specific to one ethnic group cannot be ignored.
Carlson has been an Episcopal faith leader for 20 years and has counseled many congregations through disturbing violent times — from 9/11 to Sandy Hook and other American tragedies.
“I feel like I’m part of the problem if I just help people mourn through them. It’s no longer enough. We have to do something about it,” says Carlson. “We are going to be a calling our elected officials to implement common sense gun reform to limit the ability for deranged hateful people to have a means of killing dozens of people at a time. That just cannot happen.”
CCC is a member of the Indianapolis Congregation action Network (IndyCAN), who sponsored the vigil along with Indy Pride, Inc. and Moms Demand Action for Common Sense Gun Control in Indiana.