Mourning around the world for Orlando victims

A participant holds a candle June 16, 2016, during a vigil in Mumbai, India, in memory of the victims of the Pulse gay nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

(RNS) Since the massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday (June 12), vigils, prayers and displays of sympathy have been held around the world. The following slideshow offers a glimpse of some of them:

About the author

Sally Morrow

Sally Morrow joined Religion News Service in March 2012 as Photo/Multimedia Editor. She is a photographer and editor based in Kansas City. Morrow has worked as a multimedia editor and photographer at Newsday, The Des Moines Register, and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.


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  • My question is….yes they are victims. Why is it so important that they are homosexuals? It’s their friends and families who need comfort – and are probably not homosexual – so the focus on homosexuality seems to be a bit much.

  • It was a terrorist attack on a Gay space, which killed LGBT people…an attack on the LGBT community. LGBT people are everywhere, in every ethnic group, every religion, every nation– even the most oppressive, in every walk of life from the indigent homeless to the wealthy.

    So the effects of a terrorist attack on the Gay community in any one area reverberates around the world…to other LGBT people and their communities, to the accepting people and organizations in the larger society.

  • “Why?” Because they were LGBT, and because 49 of them were killed because they were LGBT (and an additional 53 were wounded and are still alive and may read your oh-so-caring comment), and because a major part of their lives and identities was that they were LGBT, and because at least many of them had previously endured the awful experiences of being utterly dehumanized and cruelly abused just because they were LGBT, and because at least many of them had had “the talk” informing their loved ones that they were LGBT (and because that talk was a life-changing emotional experience — whether positive, negative, or both — for everyone involved), and because “their friends and families who need comfort” knew they were LGBT and knew they were killed because they were LGBT…

    …And because, bearing all the above in mind, it would be — What? I’ll let you fill in the blank — to downplay the fact that they were LGBT just to cater to your ever-so-empathetic and ever-so-“comforting” prayer that “the focus on homosexuality seems to be a bit much.”

  • Well, they were people before they were homosexuals and put themselves through the humiliation. That’s what counts – not that they were homosexual. And that is my problem. I don’t care that they were immoral. I care that they were people, first.

  • Thank you, but as I said to the other person. They were people before they were homosexuals, and that’s what really matters.

  • They weren’t “homosexuals.” They were Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Bisexual and whatever they were, and whatever they pleased to be.

    And…they always were as they were. People of obvious ill will don’t get to label and define minority people.

    Which is why homosexuals disappeared in the 1970’s, and Gay people and their community appeared.

  • You’re right: That is your problem. As I’ve said before:

    I see no morality whatsoever in your ongoing “Crusade” of treating some people worse than others (e.g., by so self-exaltedly proclaiming “they were immoral”, speaking out so arrogantly against their supposed private lives, etc., etc., etc.), based entirely upon your (gasp!) human, imperfect, incomplete knowledge of — and unverifiable conclusions about — those people, their circumstances, their beliefs and values, their unknown and unknowable private lives, even what your God may or may not be doing with them — or with you, for that matter (e.g., testing your humility, your compassion, your mercy, your recognition of your own inability to competently judge strangers, and your realization of the folly and harm in treating others according to what you simply presume to “know” about them). These are critical concerns, how you treat strangers; and, as I recall from my good Christian upbringing, you will ultimately have to justify how you treated “the least of these” to your God.

    Given the importance of these issues, it seems to me far more desirable, defensible — and immeasurably more moral — to err on the side of humility, compassion, and mercy than to risk erring on the side of hubris, contempt, and malice.

    For your faith’s sake of your immortal soul, I hope you will consider whether your God is judging their souls, or yours. Because, literally, God only knows.

  • No. They were homosexuals who probably missed the opportunity of going to Heaven because another homosexual became mean and assured that. They were precious people who have been denied the love and blessings of Jesus because of choices they made before one of their own struck them down. They will never have the chance again to go to Heaven because of this. They were people. Period.

  • I have not treated them badly. They were immoral, but Jesus loved them enough to die for them – which they rejected. Their entire chance of going to Heaven was shot down by one of their own and that hurts me for them because of the choices they made that they will not have the opportunity to remake. How many more people who choose to identify as homosexual will never see Heaven because of this choice – that is my issue.

  • Immorality certainly “seems” to be in the eye of the beholder.
    Enjoy your chosen issue, sandwindsor. Bye.

  • Not really G Key. God declared it such. Perhaps this will be something that will awaken homosexuals to the bad choices they have made. Jesus loves them in that He died for them, they have to stop rejecting Him. Blessings

  • Who would want to go to your horrible homophobic heaven? Not me, and not Archbishop Tutu.

    “”I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place,” Archbishop Tutu said at the launch of the Free and Equal campaign in Cape Town.

    “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.”

    Archbishop Tutu said the campaign against homophobia was similar to the campaign waged against racism in South Africa.”

    Archbishop Tutu ‘would not worship a homophobic God’
    BBC News 26 July 2013,

  • Hadn’t expected to say this, but your blunt assessment offers some badly needed biblical honesty on this matter.

    We’ re called to “mourn with those who mourn”, and to see all people as people, but we also need to get honest about the full extent of this tragedy. And that’s where the Bible makes things clear.

    At a time when many others are unwilling or unable to do so, thank YOU for being willing to share the real truth about this situation. It’s appreciated.

  • Bishop Tutu is a great man, but if he’s going to talk all stupid and unbiblical like that, then he doesn’t have anything to offer Christians regarding this topic. He might as well take his fancy robes and go home.

  • Tutu has abandoned the Bible on this issue. He has nothing further to say on this issue, and no authority, until he returns to the Bible.

  • Your effort to separate their sexual identity from their humanity is itself inhumane.

  • That’s your assertion. But since staying in the closet to stay in your church leads to needless misery in this life, they are better off dumping your bigoted beliefs for a chance at real happiness in this life. A massive study of 1612 LGBT Mormons shows that LGBT from religious backgrounds have just three options before them: subvert their sexual identity to stay in the anti-LGBT religion; compartmentalize being LGBT and religious into two separate lives (what the Orlando killer did) and abandoning organized religion for a chance at real happiness.

    Your constant assertion of just being people is pushing your anti-LGBT agenda at the slain victims and their suffering families. You do not offer comfort but simply more hatred and intolerance. You might as well be Pastor Roger Jimenez who celebrated their deaths or Pat Robertson who wants Muslims and LGBT to kill one another.

  • Neither of your religiously intolerance messages are helpful to anyone and simply point out why abandoning Christianity and other anti-LGBT religions makes more sense for both LGBT and their loved ones. Siding with Roger Jimenez who calls the dead victims “sodomites” and “pedophiles” does not make you courageous or your message of intolerance suddenly wise or welcome.

  • Tali-Baptists and Hallelujah Hypocrites may wrap themselves in their twisted interpretations of the Bible, but that does not make them either disciples of Christ or even descent human beings. Their bigotry cancels out their claim to either Christ or humanity.

  • Your pathological need to label the victims as evildoers cancels out any claim to showing any compassion you may claim. They were just good, descent people finding love and life as God designed them to live and love. Just because your preachers cannot grasp the concept does not make it true that LGBT are living and loving as they are designed to.

  • Nope. God declared no such thing. That would be you folks reading hateful things into Biblical passages for your own hateful purposes.

  • “Have been denied the blessings of Jesus because…”

    And here we have it. Jesus is confiding in the likes of you the status of his relationship with other people.

    And as I have said to you repeatedly, he is not “one of our own.” But you will keep repeating it anyway, because in a sick mind, that justifies what happened, makes gay people into the evil other. The FBI has already begun to cast doubt on the idea that he was a homosexual hating homosexual. But he most assuredly wasn’t one of our own, at best just another sad soul who was poisoned by toxic religious belief, at worst, a cold blooded killer fundamentalist.

    You are proving what I thought to be true about you. apology rescinded.

  • Heaven is a fictional place, and you have no legitimate evidence to prove otherwise.

  • I don’t worry about the mormons much. They have a lot to learn, yet.
    Interesting to see you defending the Orlando killer.

  • I understand that your difficulty is with Jesus. Perhaps you should discuss the matter with Him. He said that He would cleanse us of our sin – perhaps you may be interested in looking into that?

  • “And here we have it. Jesus is confiding in the likes of you the status of his relationship with other people.”

    Beginning in ancient times, the cleverest people seeking power have claimed that god confided in them. And that has to be the largest part of the fraud that allowed organized religion to propagate.

    The interesting thing is that god never confided anything that went beyond the general knowledge of the people living in a given time period. And, when Jesus was sitting around the campfire with his disciples, why didn’t he ever mention, for example, that the earth is a sphere that rotates, and revolves around the sun? After all, he was the son of god, so he should have known such things, right?

  • You are, of course, entirely right. I just wish Jesus would confide in me the winning lottery numbers. If he does, I promise to donate 25% to the Unitarian church of his choice.

  • Thank you for demonstrating once more that bigotry is central to your identity as a Christian. So much so that you deny such status to those who do not share the same hatred as you.

  • There is nothing brave or honest about pretending your bigotry has divine permission. Its just cowardly BS by people who feel the need to hide behind religion in order to act malicious. GFYS and the horses you rode in on.

  • ” …which they rejected. ”

    How do you know they rejected that? You can’t know those things.

    ” …people who choose to identify as homosexual will never see Heaven… ”

    Being heaven bound or being destined for eternal life is determined by whether the commandments are kept, according to Matthew 19:17. That situation is not cancelled because they identify as LGBT.

    There are no commandments against being LGBT.

  • Billy, Jesus loves homosexuals. He loved them enough to die for them should they accept He and what he did for them. He will even cleanse them of their sin like He does anyone who renounces their sin…that said:

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11English Standard Version (ESV)

    9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.