Commentary

How did Omar Mateen become radicalized? American culture taught him

For example, although the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of marriage equality, many Republicans still think marriage should be between one woman and one man, because somewhere in their scriptures or holy imagination it says marriage is between “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” And their opposition to last June’s SCOTUS decision wasn’t as hatefully demonstrative and obstructively cynical as that of Kim Davis — the now infamous Kentucky County clerk who not only refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but she forbade her co-workers to do so, too.

As a born again Christian, Davis cited that her First Amendment rights protected her actions. And with a movement afoot to pass so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Acts” (RFRA) that seek to codify LGBTQ discrimination, Christianity doesn’t get a pass, either.

“There’s such a cognitive dissonance for me when public officials ask us to pray when the majority of world religions promote anti-LGBT theology,” said Eliel Cruz, executive director of Faith in America, an organization that attempts to end the harm to LBGT youths it says is caused by religious teachings. “This isn’t isolated to Muslim beliefs. It’s seen in Christianity and it’s just as deadly,” added Cruz, a former Religion News Service columnist.

There’s a sundry of intersectional factors that appear to explain Mateen’s murderous act: mental illness, homophobia, fear of coming out, antigay theology, and no doubt his sworn allegiance to ISIS, to name a few. Sadly, we can’t change the hearts of people, like Mateen, as quickly as we would like to. However, we can change his behavior or, at least, make him accountable for his behavior, with laws in place to protect not only him but every American citizen.

The presumptive GOP presidential nominee, Donald Trump, calls for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. in the wake of this recent shooting, which is absurd, especially in light of the fact that Mateen was born here.

Gun reform continues to be that hot button issue as a country we can’t seem to budge on. However, recent polling suggests support for reform has spiked since the Orlando massacre, with 61 percent of Americans who responded to a new survey by NBC News and Survey Monkey saying they support stricter gun control.

Aside from the Glock semi-automatic handgun authorities say Mateen had on his person, he was also armed with a Sig Sauer MCX .223-caliber rifle, which takes the magazine and ammunition of the AR-15, the same assault weapon used in the 2012 movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colo., the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut later that same year, and at the office holiday party shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. in December 2015.

A 2013 study revealed there are 88 guns for every 100 people in the United States, more than any other developed nation in the world. And yet that same study found that a country like Yemen — where terrorism is so rampant the State Department warns against travel there — there are only 55 guns per 100 people. Just one day after the Orlando shootings, Smith & Wesson, one of the largest gun manufacturers in the country recorded a nearly 7 percent rise in shares of its stock, according to CNBC, and another gunmaker saw a 10 percent boost.

President Obama has attended at least 14 of these mass shootings since beginning his tenure as president. What might have been his 15th was prevented the same day as the Orlando shooting when Santa Monica police stopped a man with an assault rifle and 15 pounds of explosives, who was headed to the gay pride parade in West Hollywood.

Reverend Irene Monroe is an ordained minister, religion columnist, public theologian, and motivational speaker. As an African-American feminist theologian, she speaks for a sector of society that is frequently invisible. She has been a contributor to the Bilerico project since 2007 and lives in Cambridge, Mass.

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