One Nation, Under God, Indivisible

By Eva Andrade, President

On Sunday morning at 2:00 a.m., one lone man, Omar Mateen carried an assault rifle and a pistol into a packed night club in Florida and started shooting. This attack took 49 lives and wounded at least 53 others. According to recent news stories, Omar Mateen, was a troubled man with alleged family connections to Al Qaeda and a ties to Hezbollah.

By all accounts he was a terrorist. His name will be notated in history books because he single-handedly established the worst mass shooting in American history. We should expect to see movies and documentaries about him very soon.

While the nation embraces the families of the victims and tries to understand how things could get this bad, it is heartbreaking to see people using this tragedy as an opportunity to push their own personal agendas. The loss of life is overshadowed by cries for gun control, intolerance of the gay community, or debates about immigration. “We know enough to say this was an act of terror and act of hate,” President Obama said in an address to the nation from the White House.  Hate is clearly what caused this young man to aim his rifle at innocent people. Gay or straight.

At Hawaii Family Forum we denounce any kind of violence against life. We do not advocate for murder in any form and our hearts and prayers go out to the community in Orlando.

We weep not only for the lost lives and empty chairs that have been created by this act of violence, but we weep for the people, like Omar, who do not understand the value of being an American citizen with all its ups and downs. We cherish the freedom to post a cross on our Facebook page, because Jesus is the very core of what we believe. True religious belief propels us into the community to love our neighbor (and our enemy), to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, open our homes and heart to the hurting. Ergo, to build community, not take from it.

According to a recent New York Times article, “Mr. Mateen had a chilling history that included talking about killing people, beating his former wife and voicing hatred of minorities, gays and Jews.”

To be clear, that hatred has absolutely nothing to do with religion and we should not lose sight of what his actions really were – an act of terrorism by a seriously lost and broken human being.

As Americans, we love this country and every person in it.  We will not agree on every issue because we have a Constitution that gives every single one of us freedom.  That freedom, however, does not extend to the taking of innocent human life, whether in a mother’s womb, a college campus, a church, or even a GLBT nightclub.

In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to change the words of the Pledge of Allegiance adding “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Today it reads:

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

May each of us answer the call to forgiveness, mercy, grace and healing.  In my humble opinion, only those things will destroy terrorism (as it did communism).  True Christianity is the vehicle to release healing into our divided nation.

United, we can change the heart of a nation and it begins with one person, you (me).