Bishops United Against Gun Violence issued a statement Oct. 2 calling on Episcopalians to pray for the victims of the mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival that left 59 dead and 530 injured. The statement also asks that Episcopalians seek better ways to address anger and resentment within American culture.
“It has become clichéd at moments such as these to offer thoughts and prayers. But as Christians, we must reflect upon the mass killings that unfold with such regularity in our country,” the bishops wrote. “And we must pray: for the victims, for their loved ones, for all who attended to the victims in the immediacy of the shooting, for the first responders who do so much to mitigate the awful effects of these shootings, and for the medical personnel who will labor for many days to save the wounded.”
The shooting surpassed the 2016 massacre in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, becoming the deadliest single-perpetrator mass shooting in U.S. history. The bishops have asked Episcopalians to urge lawmakers to remove assault weapons from civilian hands and to “engage in the debates that shape how Americans live and die, especially when they die due to violence or neglect.”
The bishops went beyond calling for legal action and urged Americans to change their lives in ways that would reduce gun violence.
“Our country is feasting on anger that fuels rage, alienation, and loneliness. From the White House to the halls of Congress to our own towns and perhaps at our own tables, we nurse grudges and resentments rather than cultivating the respect, concern and affection that each of us owes to the other. The leaders who should be speaking to us of reconciliation and the justice that must precede it too often instead stoke flames of division and mistrust. We must, as a nation, embrace prayerful resistance before our worse impulses consume us.”