Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Midlands faith leaders of all backgrounds are joining together to encourage a culture of love in light of the Orlando shooting.
“We’re much more alike than we’re different and this one moment is only a moment, the faith community must create a movement of justice for all,” Rev. Brenda Kneece, executive minister of the South Carolina Christian Action Council said as a group of different pastors stretched out their hands in the middle of a circle to show just how similar they are.
One by one the religious leaders discussed their thoughts on the issues and what needs to be done around the violence acts that are seen in the United States and around the world.
“Many Christians by the way we have condemned Islam and even homosexuals. We’ve earned some of the backlash that we've gotten of some who say that we teach hate,” Rev. Adam China of Adams Northeast AME explained passionately. “Jesus never taught hate as a matter of fact he taught us that we’re supposed to love everyone.”
“We need to preach love,” Rev. Michael Okere of St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church said. “Diversity is a blessing, and not a curse. Inclusiveness could move us to greater heights.”
“We must not let Muslims become targets because one person claims adherence,” Kneece said during the discussion. “We can point out plenty of wrongs, but it’s so easy to say if you’re not like me, you’re wrong, when Jesus said if you do not see God in your neighbor, you’re wrong.”
Despite the differences, love is the message every pastor wants to preach.
“The problem comes when we refuse to disagree and then I think it becomes about who is right, and then what becomes a disagreement, ultimately evolves into hatred and then we justify our actions that our ungodly, because we say you’re wrong,” Reverend Dr. Ivory T. Thigpen of Rehoboth Baptist Church said. “When the reality of it is the faith that I follow, the God that I love calls me to stand with people and even though we don’t agree, to love them because God loves us.”
"At the end of the day we are created in the image and likeness of God,” Rev. Carey A. Grady of Reid Chapel AME Church said. “We ought to treat each other as such.”
“Do you think a crime like this was committed in a day? No, it was a crime that had been hashed and harnessed over time, so maybe this a time for us to begin thinking about changing a culture even those who are in your church are taking it that way to become more inclusive,” Okere said.
“Give people hope that a better world exists and unfortunately, religion has been used to hurt many people and to kill many people, let’s be honest,” Rev. Andy Sidden of Garden of Grace United Church of Christ said of his message of hope.
“We have to always be on guard and be willing and ready to help our brothers and sisters any time that we can,” Rev. E. Robert Thomas of Spring Hill AME Church said.
There will be a vigil Wednesday in honor of the victims and their families at 6 p.m. at the Garden of Grace on 1020 Atlas Road in Columbia.