The repercussions of last week’s shooting at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville are echoing around the country. Is this the inevitable conclusion of decades of intolerance preached from conservative pulpits (both literal and figurative)? And do open-minded people of faith now need to live in fear – as many abortion providers already do – of the one unbalanced so-called Christian seeking vengeance for our sins?
Upon hearing the news, I immediately became concerned for my mother’s UU congregation. They are located in a small beach town on the coast of North Carolina, surrounded by rural communities in Down East NC – not especially known for modern social ideas, but quite likely to have access to hunting rifles. As we observe Americans trending toward living more in safe, homogeneous communities, we can see both the cause and effect of this increased ideological segregation.
My friend James Protzman blogged about his daughter’s reaction to the shooting. She had met several teenagers from the Tennessee Valley congregation at a UU retreat and was grief-stricken at the irony of a house of peace being attacked so violently. "She wonders about all the other deaths that can be laid at the feet of right-wing political hate. Abraham Lincoln. Martin Luther King. John Kennedy. Robert Kennedy. Will it ever stop? she asks."