WASHINGTON: The news that two massacres took place this past weekend, one in El Paso, TX and the other in Dayton, OH, in which 29 people lost their lives within a span of 13 hours leave us numb, horrified, and in grief. These, the latest of 251 mass shootings this year, are clearly acts of domestic terrorism. Once again, the National Council of Churches lifts its voice in prayer for those who have been directly affected by the shootings and, indeed, for the soul of our entire nation. Once again, we commit ourselves to supporting measures that will reduce and prevent gun violence.
How long O Lord, must we endure this violence?
We are deeply discouraged by the awareness of the near certainty that our elected officials will not respond in any meaningful way to this violence, for they are collectively and shamefully within the captivity of the gun lobby. Our elected leaders are guilty of negligence and cowardice.
Incendiary language from leaders also must be boldly and consistently condemned and countered. Racist, inflammatory rhetoric must be replaced by words and deeds that create beloved communities, ones that embrace ethnic, racial, and religious diversity. These are the values we wish to see in a vibrant, inclusive America.
The combination of readily available weapons of mass destruction and a toxic white racist nationalist ideology is a recipe for disaster. If we cannot confront these two evils, far greater violence and social disruption awaits our nation.
We beseech elected officials to renew the lapsed ban on assault weapons and to require licensing and background checks for gun ownership. We also demand that legislation which has recently passed the House, including HR8, be brought to a vote in the Senate and passed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must be held to account for blocking legislation that would have introduced common-sense measure years ago.
The National Council of Churches asks the 100,000 local churches that comprise our member communions to hold special prayer services not only for those affected by the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton but everywhere around the world. We call upon our churches to hold conversations on racism and white supremacy so that these horrid ideologies will be eradicated. We call on our churches to contact elected officials and demand actions that will renew the assault weapons ban.
We raise our voice as a prayer to the one God of all. May our words be heard not only as lament but as a call to action.
Laurie B. Vial,
Illinois Conference of Churches