My Father was employed for 40 years by a television station located in the heart of the New Orleans French Quarter and was a member of the camera crew that covered this horrific fire.
As a deeply religious Baptist Mennonite man, he had a rather intolerant view of "deviant lifestyles" (as he referred to gay men); his opinions shaped by his religious upbringing.
I can still recall how pale, withdrawn and emotionally upset he was for a couple of days after the fire. Although not an outgoing, emotional "touchy-feely" man, he was hardly a robot. More than once I had wondered what was going on inside my Father's head; this was one of those times.
The "popular opinion" of most New Orleanians at the time was that the victims "got what they deserved". Strangely enough, my conservative, religious Father didn't echo the sheeple's views out loud in the days after the fire.
The next Sunday after the fire, our church had a "guest pastor", a conservative, intolerant "fire & brimstones" preacher, known for his strict, "right wing" views.
Predictably, his Sunday sermon seqwayed into the recent fire with a vicious attack on homosexuals and echoed the view that "those deviants got what they deserved; that it was God's punishment".
As this virulent attack on gays spewed on and on, I noticed some throat clearing and squirming going on from the person sitting on the end of the pew. It dawned on me that this was my Father.
I glanced over at him. His face was as red as a Del Monte tomato and perspiration was beading on his forehead! Knowing the warning signs, I understood that Dad was at the extreme end of his anger management/temper control!
Suddenly he grabbed my Mother's gloved hand and growled, not very quietly "Get the kids! WE ARE OUTTA HERE!"
We were the first family to quietly leave the church's sanctuary. Later we learned we were not the last. Perhaps because of this sermon, this "guest pastor" was never invited back again to preach from out church's pulpit.
This episode marked the beginning of my disenchantment with the Baptist church and organized religion in general.