Bishops of the Diocese of North Carolina Offer Statement in Response to Recent Gun Violence
A Collect for Life Together
O God, who binds us together and orders our shared life: Quell the hatred which enslaves us; forgive the violence we embrace and portray; and summon the better angels of our nature to reflect the image of the God who made us; through our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
We find ourselves heartbroken, again, at the hateful violence that permeates our society. It is simple enough to say such acts are wrong, yet some find it difficult to acknowledge the role firearms continue to play in these most horrific and traumatic acts of violence.
As people of faith, our prayers continue for those lost, those who love them and all impacted by these endless attacks. Walking this most holy week of the Christian year, we are reminded of our unwavering belief in resurrection.
We also hold the unwavering belief that no one should depart this life prematurely due to preventable causes. Gun deaths stole from us more than 43,000 loved ones in 2020 alone, including those who took their own lives.
We believe deeply in the power of prayer, but we also believe Jesus calls us to action. The placing of firearms on a false altar of freedom by a small subset of our community allows our elected leaders to dodge their responsibilities to the larger community. Those with the power to shape common-sense gun policy need to do so and stop ignoring the well-being of the many to pander to the electoral passions of a few.
Our national obsession with firearms has turned into a kind of idolatry for some. It has privileged gun ownership over regard for reasonable access or requisite training. This idolatry is cloaked in a specious argument for freedom and individuality and far from what Jesus teaches about non-violence and love of neighbor. Safety and security are shared values, but the current lack of common sense gun control is making us neither more safe nor secure, nor is it consistent with love of neighbor and trust in God.
It is particularly offensive when defense of the unrestricted proliferation of guns is paired with Christian nationalism. Therefore, this is an urgent matter for repentance and amendment of life for Christians. We remember that Jesus, time and again, called us to repent and return to the Lord. We are challenged to have that kind of faith when we sing:
Jesus calls us o’er the tumult
of our life’s wild, restless sea;
day by day his sweet voice soundeth,
saying “Christian, follow me.”
Jesus calls us from the worship
of the vain world's golden store,
from each idol that would keep us,
saying "Christian, love me more."
God did not abandon Jesus to an instrument of pain, torture and death. On Good Friday, God called upon all humanity to abandon instruments of death and destruction and “pursue the things that make for peace.” As followers of the Risen Lord, we take up our cross by taking up our own work for “the things that make for peace.” (Romans 14:19)
Yours in the faith of the Risen Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Samuel Rodman
The Rt. Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple