prayfororlandoA rainbow-colored hashtag caught my eye this morning as I scrolled through Twitter. Another shooting… sadly I’ve grown somewhat desensitized. But a “massacre”… that was new. The shooter’s religion… burden that once again a faith system would be put to blame. An attack on a gay community… now that’s downright ugly. My stomach turned in similar ways as it did when news from hate crimes regarding race in Charleston happened not all that long ago.

I took to Twitter’s hashtag feed about Orlando to get a preview of the comments stirring. They’re not nice, to say the least. What especially burdened me was that blame landed upon to two things:  religion and politics. Go figure.

I won’t address politics here, but I can’t stand still and not address “religion.” Perhaps it’s because I’ve been called or considered “religious” several times this weekend, which is funny to me. I don’t consider myself religious. But I get it. I understand that because it’s no secret I’m a Christian, believe in Jesus, love my Bible and speak about God’s transforming power in my life – I’m considered “religious.” But really – I’m just a girl with a powerful story who’s been changed by God’s grace. I’d love to check “religion” at the door like the rest of the country right now.

Since I self-identify however with those considered “religious” in the Christian sense (the Muslim “religious” get a different stereotype) – I feel it’s only fair to share my heart:  it’s broken, sad and angry this morning. The gay community, like any other community, deserves to be loved and accepted. And there is no excuse whatsoever for what happened at the Orlando night club last night.

“Religion” might tell you that it’s OK to treat people differently if you don’t like or agree with them.  Or shoot them, in some cases. Religion says it’s OK to cast judgement, act righteous or slander others. Religion says pretend and lie — but act like you don’t. Religion cannot see that there’s a difference between agreeing with someone’s choices and accepting them. It doesn’t play fair. And all who hate “religion” right now — know there’s a lot of us inside churches or mosques this morning who hate it just as much, if not more, than you.

But I write to offer a different perspective to all burning in anger, especially over either real or expected “Christian” responses today:  the gay community is LOVED. The black community is LOVED. The Muslim community is LOVED. The republications and democrats, including the presidential candidates, are LOVED. You, in all of your junk, are LOVED. It’s only when we accept this love for ourselves that can we offer it to others and this stuff stops happening. I don’t think there’s any other way.

Today, if you pray, let’s take seriously the charge to “pray for Orlando.” Especially if you identify as a Christian and have a relationship with Jesus. The Bible says God will hear and answer our prayers. There’s not a lot else we can do right now. Orlando and the community that identifies with those slain needs us. Their families are hurting and in pain. So let’s pray with authority for peace and comfort. Let’s ask for love to come down. After all, we have the power within us to ask.

If you’re not like me and have never been considered “religious,” that’s OK too. Just know that what you hate, I hate too. But there’s something behind all of that religious junk that is right and pure – and it has the power to heal, even hurting hearts in Orlando today.