Statement on the Orlando Tragedy and Suffering
Religions for Peace USA
June 12, 2016


On behalf of our 50 national religious member communities, Religions for Peace USA lifts up prayers and sends our deepest condolences to the victims of the sickening attack this morning in Orlando, Florida, that left 50 people dead and 53 injured.  We especially stand with LGBTQ people who were the target of this vicious attack.

There is no excuse for such brutality.

Such attacks wound our shared humanity and confront us with a stark choice: to mimic the hatred we see or to make a bold commitment to overcome it.  For Religions for Peace USA, the interconnected nature of our world means simply this: we must all become peace-makers now.  For, if we respond to every act of violence with a thirst for yet more violence in revenge, we will undoubtedly succeed in little more than inflicting unspeakable suffering on one another.  There must be a dedication to seeking and building a future in which the chains of suffering and violence are broken.

Religions around the world call us to our highest and best values — values which lead us to courageous peace-making on every level.   We, therefore, urge people everywhere, to make a fresh commitment to building a world of peace and justice and doing all we can to renounce violent language and actions wherever they arise.  This requires that we must reach beyond and across lines of human difference – religion, race, nationality and sexual identity – to form active relationships that honor and protect the lives, humanity and dignity of all.

We urgently call on people of faith and goodwill everywhere to recommit ourselves to peacemaking, to heal all wounds of violence and injustice; to build bridges of hope and to bring down walls of fear and hatred.  Cruel suffering like we see inflicted on people in Orlando demands that we become more determined than ever to enter places where violence has already left deep pain and suffering, and in their place bring healing, justice and peace.

What Can We Do Now?

  • Calls, letters and emails of support from individuals and organizations to people in the communities affected by this tragedy are an important way to convey your concern.
  • Many communities are holding community-wide, multi-religious vigils.  We encourage everyone to attend or organize one in your area.
  • Look for a multi-religious organization or other community service organization in your area to join and become an active, long-term advocate for peace and well-being of all people where you are.
  • Remember that faithful Muslims and Muslim organizations are incredibly horrified and distressed by actions like this, as any of us would be if the person perpetrating such crimes claimed to be acting in the name of our group.   Help amplify the voices of those who seek to heal wounds, build bridges and bring down walls of hate.
  • You can find links to more statements about the Orlando tragedy on our website: Please note that Muslim organizations are again speaking out very clearly about their repudiation of such actions in the name of their religion.

Dr. Omid Safi Responds to Orlando Shooting

“As American Muslims, we stand in solidarity with the gay/lesbian/transgender communities. Those of us who live in the South know the demonization of the LGBTQ community over the last year, and we know that this demonization often leads to violence.   We weep with you, stand with you, and offer our prayers and action.    We will call out homophobia whenever and wherever, as so many of you have called out Islamophobia and xenophobia again and again.   All justice is linked together, and all injustice is linked together.    As Muslims, we know what it is like to be members of a persecuted community.   May al-Rahman (the ever-Merciful), Al-Rahim (the All-Forgiving), al-Sabur (the Source of All Patience and Perseverance) enfold each of us, carrying what no mere mortal can.”

Religious leaders across the country have come together to denounce the Orlando shooting. Here are some of them:

Bob Roberts, Founder & Sr Pastor Northwood Church

My heart is heavy and my prayers are many for the victims and families of the Orlando attack.  I grieve for those who’s lives were lost. We should use this as a moment to reach out to one another.  In a diverse society if we can’t love one another while disagreeing we will never have any hope of living in peace.  I love you all and I pray for all of us – we are all God’s children.

2 Corinthians 1: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 

Catherine Orsborn, Director, Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign

In the wake of the tragic events in Orlando, on behalf of Shoulder to Shoulder, I offer my deepest sympathy to the communities of all who were injured or killed in this horrific attack. No person in our country should live in fear of violence based on their identity – ever. We must all join together in working against hate and violence in all its forms, and we must as a nation guard against allowing perpetrators of violence to divide us against one another.  

Dr. Tarunjit Butalia, Sikh Council of Interfaith Relations

The Sikh Council of Interfaith Relations stands with religious organizations across the United States in condemning the brutal murders carried out in Orlando this weekend. 

The Guru Nanak wrote “God within us renders us incapable of hate and prejudice.” It is our hope that with a united call for peace, the citizens of this country can stand together and recognize that within them all is the power to extinguish bigotry from this world.”

Mr. Naeem Baig, President of Islamic Circle of North America

“As Muslims and people of faith we must remember that God has directed us to defend all people equally against bigotry, hate, violence and abuse.”