I’m not referring to “The father, the son and the Holy Spirit.” I’m referring to this trinity:
The three giant religions that were born of Abraham, Ibrahim, it’s the same person. He’s been dead for over 4,000 years. They all have a few things in common. They encourage polygamy, unfettered reproduction and hate for everything from homosexuality, women being “higher” than the man, premarital sex and a range of other things.
Now Judaism is a bit different. Nearly two millenia of persecution by its two sister religions have tempered it a great deal. It’s been forced to run and hide many times. It knows hate like none of the other ones well, and has become quite tolerant in most cases. Now I’m not saying it’s Buddhism. But I haven’t heard of any acts of extreme violence on behalf of it. And please don’t get into the Israeli/Palestinian problem, as that just bolsters my point.
But the object of this article is about the possible motives behind Omar Mateen’s blaze of hate that killed at least 49 gays and their friends in the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. This is going to be controversial and not fully investigated yet. But the FBI is putting together a picture of a common and ugly situation that Islam and Christianity create.
Here’s what we know now. Mateen had been almost a regular at Pulse. Employees and patrons had seen him there “at least a dozen times” before the attack. Security had thrown him out due to excessive drunkenness and other “bad behavior” (whatever that means). He had been seen “putting his arm around” other men there and “trying to dance with them.” He had profiles on Grindr, Jackd, Adam4adam, and other gay dating and “hookup” apps. Gay men have come forward with accounts of him contacting them on these apps, have been interviewed by the FBI and had their phone and computer contents downloaded for forensic analysis. In addition, a former security school classmate of Mateen, (who was in the closet at the time) said they’d all frequent gay bars, and Mateen made an obvious pass at him. Asking him, “are you gay?” To which he responded to the classmate lying and saying “no”, “well if you were, you’d be just my type.”
This angle, whatever it is, is being thoroughly investigated by the FBI as I write this. But if Mateen was a semi-closeted gay man, or bisexual, I have an idea of what might have been going on in his mind. Now I know most people frankly wouldn’t care what his motivation to kill as many gay people as possible was. But if we ignore that, we’ll never learn how to stop it.
I grew up in a VERY religious household. I went to church every Sunday. It wasn’t a particularly fundamentalist church, but I paid attention. I heard the subtle condemnations. Just beneath the surface of the sermons. I read the Bible. Not all of it of course. Most “pastors” haven’t done that. But when I noticed, during puberty, that my sexual and emotional attractions were towards boys, I was distraught. I had known that my indoctrinated religion didn’t approve of that. Not at all. So I was extremely confused. It wasn’t until I started seeing a licensed clinical psychologist (Ph.D in psychology) for the depression I was going through due to the secret I was carrying and the religious conflict it was causing me (and I’ll never forget his name, Dr. Stern) that I was told by him that being gay isn’t a mental illness, or anything to be ashamed of, that my way out began.
There are three paths a gay person can take out of the religious conflict that their sexual orientation brings. The first way is to integrate your religious beliefs into your identity. By discarding the verses of whichever one of these toxic religions you subscribe to and embracing the “peaceful” components. This is easy to do when your parents support and embrace your identity as much as possible. The second way is to reject your indoctrinated religion completely, thus eliminating any conflict with your identity. The third way is potentially the most destructive. You reject your identity, embrace the anti-gay portions of your religion, and embark on a path of self-loathing, hatred of those who have embraced the identity you’re a member of and conduct your passions for your orientation in secret. At varying degrees of secrecy.
IF Mateen was gay or bisexual, and we don’t know yet, embracing ISIS makes some sense. They have detailed instructions for how you’re supposed to kill homosexuals. It reinforces your self-hatred. And this is an intertwined motivation for what he did. Yes, he was married to a woman. Twice. Yes he has a son. But it’s no secret that millions of gay men have and do all over the world.
I happen to be a staunch atheist. No, not because I’m gay. It’s because of science. Any dogma that conflicts with, and usually is an enemy of the search for empirical evidence and proof of reality is anathema to me. But I would never condemn every subscriber of any religion for the acts of one. Or even an army of them. Doing so is to be as hateful, and intolerant as they are (ISIS, Al Qeada, Omar Mateen, and on and on.)
There are verses in the bible (Lev. 20:13 to reference just one), and in the Quran that call for the execution of homosexuals. Both involve stoning to death. That’s no coincidence. They come from the same source material. Until these religions excise this from themselves, people, for whatever reason, will use them to justify their murders.
I have no insight into why Mateen did what he did. But pieces of the picture are starting to be put together. And I really don’t like what’s emerging. Because I might be able to understand the reasoning. And it might not be a new one. Religion-induced self-loathing.