Wilshire Baptist Church’s pastor urges fellow Christians and neighbors to question not only our country’s “culture of violence” but also the insistence of many followers and secularists alike to “use the Second Amendment as a pretext for freedom.” He also wants readers to pray for peaceful followers of the Muslim faith, who today find themselves under constant threat. 

Once again a pastor from Wilshire Baptist Church — George Mason, who is a monthly columnist for the East Dallas/Lakewood Advocate and Lake Highlands Advocate magazines — is generating discussion for his opinion on a current, thorny issue.

In the past, his take on the Ebola situation, his co-pastor Mark Wingfield’s message about transgender people and the church’s efforts to help immigrants and refugees including Muslims all are examples of Wilshire taking the sort of love-rooted position you don’t expect someone who shares a religious denomination with, say, Pastor Robert “transgender-friendly-businesses-are-scarier- than-terrorists” Jeffress, to take.

This time, Mason, for Dallas’ daily newspaper, addresses last weekend’s mass shooting at a crowded Orlando nightclub, which was popular with the city’s LGBT residents and visitors.

He urges readers, especially his fellow Christians, to stand in solidarity with gays and peace-loving Muslims …

We must reflect, and think, and grieve and pray, of course, he notes. “Reacting quickly and thoughtlessly can produce intemperate responses with unintended negative consequences,” he notes. But for those who would rather block out the horror, tune into some reality TV show or otherwise bury their heads in the sand, he has this message: “Not speaking up can do so too.”

That’s important. The time for standing silently by as influential people spew hatred and fuel the fires of bigotry — for not responding when those around you voice support for verbal and social media messages of hatred — is gone.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” Martin Luther King has said. “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people,” he’s also said.

Writes Mason: “LGBTQ people were targeted for murder in this attack. They deserve to hear from Christians that we consider this an abomination. Our hearts go out not only to those who are grieving losses of friends who were killed or injured, but also to all who feel fear more viscerally today because of it. We must speak up and stand with those who are being targeted daily by words and actions that make them seem somehow less human because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The next group for whom he implores prayer and love is peace-loving Muslims. Muslims are in great danger after something like this — they become the targets of misguided revenge seekers. See how New York Muslims faced harassment following the Paris attacks. Or how one guy targeted convenience store workers who seemed middle-eastern after the 9/11 attacks. (One survivor’s story is told in the book, “True American,” as well as in this D Magazine piece.)

“Muslims too need our prayers. When people claim their religion and distort it, and use it as an excuse for violence in the name of God, we Christians must join the many peace-loving Muslims in condemning such atrocities. We must let them know that we not only support their right to worship freely in America, but also that we stand beside them in grief and love. We will not blame a whole religion for the actions of evildoers who misuse their faith for their own wicked purposes.” 

Then he transitions into solutions. What can Christians and Americans do in the way of harm reduction and prevention?

Christians who worship Jesus Christ, “the prince of peace,” he says, “must also question the culture of violence that uses the Second Amendment as a pretext for freedom.”

Bravo, brave Pastor Mason, who will undoubtedly receive much criticism for the common-sense suggestion that we question said amendment.

He doubles down on the message: “Surely we can see no good that can come from allowing assault weapons to be purchased that can be used to slaughter fellow citizens time and time again. Common sense and Christian concern should allow us to find a way to protect our rights to own guns and at the same time to protect our neighbors from this scourge upon our land.”

You can read the rest of Mason’s column here, and read him each month in the Advocate.