The recent mass shooting (June 12, 2016), that left 49 dead and 53 wounded in Orlando at a “gay” night club in Orlando, Florida, is apparently the work of a single gunman with a high-powered assault rifle and a pistol. The shooter, Omar Mateen, pledged allegiance to ISIS, the so-called Islamic State. ISIS is a fundamentalist, ultraconservative terrorist group of Muslims. William McCants, director of the Project on US Relations With the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution, informs us that ISIS “sees itself as more faithful to scripture than other Muslims, and they’ve got religious scholars in their ranks who are able to make finely crafted arguments to that end.” This all means that the terrorist leaders of ISIS are religiously motivated. They and their followers believe they are justified in killing people who represent the Western world’s lifestyle. In addition to Mateen’s religious and political beliefs, he often expressed hostility toward LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) people and other minorities. Therefore this horrific shooting is an act of terrorism and a hate crime.
Addiction to power and control, which impacts the thinking and behavior of terrorists, can also affect the thoughts and actions of many sincere, ultraconservative Christians. One example is the belief and teaching that victims of mass shootings, due to their culture and lifestyle, are condemned by God and receive God’s judgment on them as terrible “sinners.” However, Jesus clearly tells us that the Galileans who were murdered in the temple by Pilate, and the 18 people who died in Siloam when a tower fell on them, were no worse sinners than other people living in Galilee and Jerusalem (see Luke 13:1-5).
In this issue of the Journey to Life, you will find a feature article, written by Dr. David Sedlacek, Andrews University Seminary professor, which confronts “toxic faith” and “religious addiction.” The explanation, reality, and methods for dealing with these problems, you will find informative and helpful.
As I conclude this editorial, I want you to know that my desire is that you have a life free from religious addiction. Jesus Christ, through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, can and will make this possible.
Ray Nelson, MDiv, MSPH