Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Shooting in the Sanctuary

A Unitarian-Universalist congregation seems like an unlikely target for a deranged gunman, but -- according to the New York Times -- the paranoid anger of Jim D. Adkisson against homosexuals and political liberals apparently led him to undertake a murderous rampage in a church in which young children were performing on stage. Members of this religion known for its pacifism managed to subdue Adkisson, but at least two congregants died from his gunfire.

I happen to be a life-long Unitarian and one accustomed to being a member of a religious minority so small that many who proselytize on my doorstep have no idea of the values that my faith represents and assume that I am simply a member of another evangelical sect. Yet today our entire congregation received a bulk e-mail about the Knoxville shooting and information about web resources that we could consult about the violence that took place.

We were referred to online statements from church officials about the heroism that took place during the carnage and the professionalism of the subsequent crisis response at the UUA official site. (For example, this posting was careful to include a copyright statement for the lyrics that it had quoted.) We were also given a link to the Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry that had been formed to provide interfaith counseling and services to survivors of large-scale disasters.

We were not, however, given the link to the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church itself in the mass e-mail.

Like many other faiths, I discovered that the Unitarian church actually has its own official YouTube channel as well. The Knoxville church provides a link to "Voices of a Liberal Faith." But so far there are no videos about the shootings on the church's YouTube site.

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