Washington, Virginia dioceses unite in prayer following Alexandria shootings

Gun violence is not partisan

Gun Violence is Not Partisan.

The Episcopal Dioceses of Washington and Virginia are united in prayer for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise,  Zachary Barth, Matt Mika, and Capitol Police Officers Krystal Griner and David Bailey, that they may fully recover from their wounds. We’re praying for those who were in close proximity to the shooting, that they may heal from the trauma of witnessing such violence.  We pray in gratitude for our community’s first responders and medical personnel who were there to protect and save lives. And we pray God’s mercy on the soul of James Hodgkinson.

Baseball brings Americans — and politicians — together. So does tragedy, as we look past our disagreements to care about those who suffer.  In the wake of violence, the nation needed President Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to speak words of unity, and they did not disappoint us. Senator Bernie Sanders, upon learning that Mr. Hodgkinson had volunteered for his campaign, strongly condemned the shooting and violence of any kind.

The shooting of a public official is a threat to our democracy, and it reverberates throughout the halls of government. “An attack on one us,” Speaker Ryan said, “is an attack on all of us.” Gun violence is a bipartisan phenomenon. Today Representative Steve Scalise, a Republican, joins Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat, who was shot at an outdoor meeting with her constituents in 2011.

Gun violence is also a national tragedy: more than 13,000 Americans have been injured by gunfire in  2017. Nearly 7,000 more Americans have died.  One statistic we don’t care about when counting the wounded and dead is political party affiliation.

Among these killed this year: Andrew McPaatter, a young African American father, shot dead in the Congress Heights neighborhood Southeast Washington. His grieving 7-year old son Tyshaun, featured recently in The Washington Post,  is one of the millions of American children growing up in high-crime communities where the threat of gun violence affects nearly every aspect of their lives. We won’t spend as much time publicly speculating on the shooting that killed Andrew, given that it happened on the other side of the Anacostia River, which, like it or not, is a political commentary of its own.

Baseball diamonds are part of America’s common ground. So are night clubs, churches, synagogues, mosques; public schools, community centers, and movie theaters; parking lots and street corners. What these public sites have in common is gun violence.

Gun violence prevention is a civic responsibility and a spiritual vocation to which countless faith communities and their leaders are dedicated.  We refuse to believe that as a nation we are incapable of finding common ground on gun violence prevention. Our prayers for those who suffer are matched by a unified commitment to bring this national tragedy to an end.

The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of Washington
The Rt. Rev. Shannon Johnston, Bishop of Virginia
The Rt. Rev. Susan Goff, Bishop Suffragan, Diocese of Virginia
The Rt. Rev. Ted Gulick, Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Virginia


  1. Pjcabbiness says:

    This was an intentional, premeditated, violent act by a radicalized leftist who was encouraged by the endless progressive rhetoric found on social media. This was human, political violence carried out for the singular purpose of murdering human beings with a different point of view. This type of act by anyone on the left or right is purely evil. Regardless of our differences, we must, in every way possible, reject violence and work to restore civility in our society. It is also time to take a serious look at the negative role social media, especially Facebook, plays in the dynamic that facilitates these violent acts.

  2. Ronald Davin says:

    When seconds count the police are just minutes away

  3. mike geibel says:

    Why is it that Episcopal clergy cannot simply express a prayer for healing and unity without trying to use what was clearly a partisan hate crime and attempted assassination of Republican legislators as an opportunity to promote an anti-second amendment political message? The second thought after a near tragedy should not be; “How can we use this event to promote our political agenda?”

    November was one of the most divisive elections in history, and the political atmosphere remains toxic. Hatred is the most dangerous weapon of all, and that weapon is loaded by those who deal in emotional rhetoric and blind allegiance to an uncompromising ideology. Deranged and mentally disturbed fanatics do not need a firearm to exercise that hatred to maim and kill. Consider:

    On April 15, 2013, two homemade bombs detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring several hundred others, including 16 who lost limbs.
    Chechen-American brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were the perpetrators. Tamerlan was killed. Dzhokhar was captured and claimed he was motivated by extremist Islamist beliefs. He learned to build explosive devices from an online magazine of the al-Qaeda and had intended to travel to New York City to bomb Times Square. He was convicted of 30 charges and was sentenced to death.

    On February 18, 2010, John Stack flew his small plane into the IRS building occupied by 200 federal tax employees setting off a raging fire. Two died and at least 13 people were injured. John Stack was angry over U.S. Tax policies.

    One week after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to news media offices and to two Democratic senators, Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. The letters contained the note: “DEATH TO AMERICA, DEATH TO ISRAEL, ALLAH IS GREAT.” Five people died and 17 others were infected. Another 31 people tested positive for exposure to anthrax spores. Ten thousand more people, deemed “at risk” from possible exposure, underwent antibiotic prophylaxis. Thirty-five postal facilities and commercial mailrooms were contaminated. The presence of anthrax was detected in seven of 26 buildings tested on Capitol Hill. More than 1.8 million letters, packages, magazines, catalogs, and other mailed items were quarantined, and the EPA spent $27 million for the cleanup of the Capitol Hill facilities. In August 2008, prosecutors announced charges against Bruce E. Ivins, a government scientist. Ivins killed himself before those charges could be filed. He was not Muslim. A recent editorial in “The Week” magazine noted that deaths from the opioid epidemic is killing Americans at a rate equivalent to twenty 9/11 massacres every year, and nearly twice as many Americans die from opioid overdose as from gun violence.

    On April 19, 1995, a domestic terrorist truck bombing attack was made on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the bombing killed 168 people, including 19 children, injured more than 680 others, and destroyed one-third of the building. He used a fertilizer bomb. McVeigh and Nichols were associated with the extreme right-wing Patriot Movement which rejected the legitimacy of the federal government. McVeigh was convicted and put to death in 2001.

    I believe we can avoid more tragedies and lives being taken for political or religious ideology by exercising civility in voicing our disagreements over divisive political issues. The Church can start by putting President Trump’s name back into the Prayers of the People.

  4. David Horwath says:

    I find it interesting that the politicians and clergy sanctimoniously call for peace and unity, yet the morning edition of the Washington Post headlines another anonymous leak about Trump while the left and their media allies continue their relentless assault against anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Do you wonder why the country is polarized? If the Episcopal Church wants to reduce tensions, start by healing bruises in your own congregations. Recognize that not everyone believes in the left wing cultural wars or wants to be coerced by the left’s thought police and go from there.

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