In Theory:

The shootings last week at Fort Hood, Texas, have been met with everything from fear and anger to disbelief, shock and sadness. Every day we are learning more about Nidal Malik Hasan, the alleged gunman, and his motivations behind the attack that killed 13 last week. What are healthy and maybe spiritual ways that we can react to this incident without adding fuel to fire of this already volatile occurrence?

Americans are experiencing shock and disbelief as the details unfold about the Fort Hood, Texas, shootings.

Our first concern should center on the innocent victims of this act of mass murder. We should console, pray for and support the grieving families in every way possible. As a nation we should put politics aside and unite with a single purpose to heal and further advance the values of our country. America is unique among all nations in its ability to respond to tragedy in healthy ways.

What happened at Fort Hood is one of the biggest fears of the American Muslim community. One deranged person, claiming to be Muslim, allegedly single-handedly kills innocent people, creating another national tragedy. National and local American Muslim organizations immediately issued strong condemnations of the event and called for calm.

Locally, at the Islamic Center of Southern California’s Friday prayer services on Nov. 6, the Muslim community reiterated the unequivocal condemnation of Hasan’s horrific actions.

This event invites anger and backlash against millions of peace-loving and patriotic American Muslims. As such, from a religious community perspective, American Muslims have the responsibility to further define themselves and lead the internal battle against Islamic extremism worldwide, and the interfaith community needs to lead the way in fighting religious prejudice.

Muslims need to stand against the merchants of hate who disseminate false information about Islam and Muslims and are now having a field day with this heartbreaking event. Authentic American Muslim organizations should be relied upon to seek accurate information. You can contact the Islamic Congregation of La Cañada Flintridge by visiting www.iclcf.org to learn more about the American Muslim response to this terrible event.

From a religious community perspective, American Muslims have the responsibility to further define themselves and lead the internal battle against Islamic extremism worldwide. Within the Muslim community in America, it is very clear that extremist and violent beliefs are condemned.

So clear it is to American Muslims as a community that at times they may take it for granted.

The problem, however, lies with the perception of Islam and Muslims. One factor contributing to this perception is that American Muslims, generally speaking, are a quiet and hard-working community of first-generation immigrants focusing on establishing their American dream. Islamic organizations need to encourage the community at large to get to know the true nature of their peaceful fellow citizens and neighbors who are Muslims.

As our Army’s top officer, Gen. George Casey has eloquently said: “Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse,”

If we turn on each other or compromise our American principles, then indecency will prevail. Our country needs to focus on long-term solutions that will prevent the reoccurrence of these horrible acts of hatred and desperation.

“In God We Trust” as Americans unite, from all faiths and nationalities, is America’s strength and an effective response that will render the actions of evil perpetrators actions null and void.

Islamic Congregation of La Cañada Flintridge

When faced with any tragedy, our first response must be to provide solace and assistance for the victims. In this case, we should extend a helping hand to family members of the deceased and injured, and give our moral support to those who were at the facility during the shooting. We should offer sincere prayers for the souls of the departed and ask God to heal the wounds of all those who were hurt — either physically or emotionally — in this horrible attack.

Obviously, we should not blame the entire American Muslim community for this offense, and we must take their word seriously when they condemn this barbaric act in the strongest terms. It’s important to recognize that there wasn’t one single factor that triggered this massacre; to say that Hasan’s religion alone led him down this violent path would be unfair.

While it is becoming evident that he had associations with radical Islamic clerics whose ideas may have helped push him over the edge, it’s also clear that this man had some very serious psychological issues.

Spiritual people of good conscience should use the unfortunate opportunity created by this tragedy to purge the radical elements from the ranks of religious organizations. We must recommit ourselves to the pursuit of peace and justice, and reach out to those who are at risk of perpetuating violence in order to show them a better way.

It is the moral responsibility of the truthful majority to rein in and eliminate the violent few who through their appalling acts spread a cloak of shame on all religion.

Chabad of Glendale and the Foothills

How can we expect the American people to react to Thursday’s shootings at Fort Hood, Texas?

Each one of us is distinct in how we process thoughts and feelings and then integrate them into our belief system in regard to this attack. And we all have unique backgrounds and memories of other attacks on our soil. Thus, the way we view such incidents as Christians is from our particular world view.

Feelings such as fear and anger are rampant. Distress, and for some, perhaps, compassion toward the gunman are present as well. For those who may be connected to this event more intimately, such as family, friends and military personnel, there is even more to process.

What we are learning of Hasan, the gunman, and his motivations behind the attack, are going to create further pain. Healthy processing takes spiritual comfort and the ability to talk about our feelings. There really is no tangible act we can take that will make this go away. It is internal — feelings and thoughts. Praying and verbal processing of our emotions can bring some relief. Spiritual and psychological counsel can take it a step further. We need to process this on two levels: alone (internally) and in community (in relationship).

And for each of us, it will be exclusive.

Therapist at La Vie Counseling Center in Pasadena

Hasan’s egregious actions are hardly something from which to draw positive instruction, but maybe the sobering effect it’s had will push us to take more seriously the issue of sin.

I can think of no better example than this to show people the fragility of life, the necessity of having the God issue well settled, and the importance of right beliefs. How often I hear critics denounce Christ because they chalk his message up to a matter of mere wishfulness, as if it’s all unicorns and pie-in-the-sky, but I can tell you now that however you translate faith, just know it will transform into a reality for either good or evil.

What do you wish for in the world? Peace, happiness, tolerance? Then you had better know what you should tolerate and what peace and happiness really mean.

We have religions out there that deny the reality of sin. How do you legislate for the common good, if it’s all good? If there is no evil, let’s get rid of the metal detectors at the airport. No? Then let’s agree with God concerning this issue and go from there.

Some religions have so-called holy books that contain open-ended commands like fight those who do not believe, or kill them wherever you find them. We had better familiarize ourselves with these, and be on our toes. I know we’re pussy-footing around with the issue of Hasan’s religious motivations, but it seems obvious to me, and to those here who share his faith, that they better address our fears regarding the illegitimacy of Hasan turning words into action.

Let’s take this opportunity to really know what we believe and why we believe it. Go back to church.

Also, engage your neighbors and find out why they believe the way they do.

And finally, take this opportunity to pray for our soldiers.

Montrose Community Church

The Fort Hood, Texas, shootings are a national tragedy.

What a senseless act of violence. My heart goes out to the individuals who were killed or wounded and their families. We should keep them in our thoughts and prayers.

Over the following days and months, more information will come out about the shooter and his motivations, which will add to the already raging debate about terrorism and religion.

So, how should we respond to such events? I’m reminded of an event that occurred last Friday, the day after the Fort Hood shootings, and the morning of the Florida shootings. My office is in a building next to a building which has received notoriety as being a prime terrorist target.

At about 11 a.m., the building’s public address system came on announcing that the police department was closing the building’s lobby.

Within a few minutes, we were notified that the police department was closing the streets surrounding the building to vehicles and pedestrians and that the building may be evacuated.

A suspicious package had been found at the bus stop in front of the building.

As these events unfolded, many thoughts went through my mind. Was this a real threat or a hoax? Should we evacuate our staff? Were these several acts of violence over two days connected? Who should be blamed for them?

Fortunately, within 30 minutes, we were notified that the package was harmless. The building and streets were reopened, and life returned to normal.

This event caused me to think again about my values and how I should react in a dangerous situation. As a Christian, my values are based on my faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He provides a solid foundation.

Even in adverse circumstances, he exemplified love, forgiveness and strength to endure.

In these uncertain times, I need to exercise my faith in him, pray for peace, be tolerant, avoid hate and extend my hand to those who need help, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, political persuasions or economic circumstances. Jesus taught love, not hate, and to reach out to others.


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