Turkish Lives Matter

Turkish Lives Matter June 30, 2016

Why so much anguish about the shootings in Orlando but nothing (that I’ve seen so far) about the bombings in Istanbul? Is it possible to adapt these laments in the following ways?

Black Lives Matter called America’s attention to the fact that urban violence and police shootings are not randomly distributed, and the movement describes itself as “working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.” Indeed, justice demands that we ask (in my colleague William ONeill’s words), “Whose equal human dignity and equal human rights are unequally threatened or denied?” Black lives matter–we must act against race-based oppression of human beings, and take note of the systematic and intentional targeting of people of color in our society. Alongside this, Orlando Istabul calls us to affirm that Queer Turkish lives matter.

In the wake of Orlando Istanbul, where racist homophobia religious ideology killed 49 Americans 32 Turks (and 10 others) and terrorized millions of LGBTQ people travelers, especially queer people of color Turks, it is time for the Church–the people of God, all of us–to step away from language that fuels distrust and disdain of sexual minorities non-Westerners. It is time for us to exercise positive solidarity with LGBTQ Turkish people. As with racism, it is not enough to renounce overtly homophobic infidelphobic acts, but rather we must recognize and stand against the structures of social sin that drive them.

Or this?

So in this afternoon’s post, I attempted to reflect on what it means for me, as a Christian historian, to make my faith active in love of my LGBT Turkish neighbors. To grieve with them, for sure, since I’ve previously argued that mourning is integral to the historical vocation. But more importantly, to take seriously the challenge posed by gay Christian activist Matthew Vines: to “avoid qualifying your lament in any way” and instead communicate that

God loves lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Turkish people unconditionally. You love us them and are committed to making the church the sanctuary it always should have been for us them. Sadly, I have never heard a pastor who opposes same-sex marriage Sharia Law give a sermon declaring God’s love for LGBT people Turks without including caveats about his or her opposition to same-sex relationships Islam.

If there were ever a time to give that sermon—and to give it with genuine humility, compassion and an openness to learn and grow—now is the time. Churches will be marked in the LGBT community Turks for years to come by how they respond to us them in this moment. Please do all you can to let that mark be one of unconditional love.

Is there any reason why Turks deserve such empathy, compassion, and tolerance any less than gays, lesibians, and transgenders? And what makes it easier to show off your love for LBGT people than Turks? Perhaps the American Christians identifying with LBGT are provincial?

Parochialists all.


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