Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

This weekend’s massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida has sickened, angered, and depressed millions of people across our nation and the world. It’s unbelievable that someone would be so wicked in attacking a vulnerable, defenseless community. It’s inconceivable that one person could inflict such devastation within a short period of time. Sadly, massacres like this are nothing new in the history of the United States. They are all about targeting and murdering a specific group of people whose ideas, culture, and lifestyles differ from the shooters.

On April 12th, 1864, hundreds of African American Union soldiers were shot,bayoneted or bludgeoned to death by Confederate troops at Fort Pillow in Tennessee. Despite surrendering, they were targeted and murdered simply because they were black. Such an appalling massacre would be called a war crime today.

On December 29th, 1890 at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota, more than 150 men, women, and children were massacred by the 7th Calvary and 51 were wounded (4 men and 47 women and children, some of whom died later); some estimates placed the number of dead at 300. They died because they were Lakota Sioux. Twenty soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor for the horrendous massacre. In 2001, the National Congress of American Indians passed two resolutions condemning the Medals of Honor awards and called on the U.S. government to rescind them. It still hasn’t been done.

And now, on June 12th, 2016, 50 people were ruthlessly murdered and 53 others wounded in a massacre at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, perpetrated by one evil man. The victims were wickedly killed simply because they were gay. Like those massacred at Fort Pillow and Wounded Knee, they were cruelly murdered for being part of their own unique community.

Hatred and prejudice, xenophobia and an unhealthy obsession with automatic weapons, all play their part in these inhumane attacks and murderous massacres. Until we fully address these issues, people who are different culturally and ethnically will remain vulnerable, even in their own communities which should be havens of safety and security.

Our churches will pray for the victims, their families, their friends, and their communities, and ask God for healing, support, and comfort in the midst of all the pain. However, we also need to pray for common sense to prevail against an obsessive and sinful culture concerning weapons. We also need to be proactive in reaching across our diverse communities in order to unite against the common foes of ignorance, prejudice, and hatred. At Erin Presbyterian Church, we try to epitomize this through applying our vision statement:

Unified in Christ, we actively seek to create harmony in a diverse community through compassion, mutual respect, and love.

Prayer: May Christ bring us together as one. Amen.