Mourning for Las Vegas

by | Oct 3, 2017

This statement was given as part of an interfaith press conference in the Bishop’s Garden on the grounds of Washington National Cathedral on Tuesday, October 3.

Good morning. My name is Mariann Edgar Budde, and I serve the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington as their bishop.

We are a group of faith leaders who represent various national and local churches, synagogues, and mosques. And we gather today in grief over the senseless bloodshed at a shooting late Sunday night in Las Vegas, and with a dire sense of urgency to say that we of all people know that our thoughts and prayers–while important–are insufficient. We are the people who minister to the lives touched by gun violence year after year. And we are exhausted by the fact that a probing conversation on issues of gun violence continues to elude us as a nation. This failure is cause for repentance and for shame.

As people of faith we are of course praying for the victims and the people whose lives were forever changed yesterday in Las Vegas. But we are convicted that we must, as a country, also reflect upon the mass killings that unfold with such regularity.

I speak on behalf of more than 70 other Episcopal bishops across the country who are working together to curb our nation’s epidemic of gun violence. And we believe emphatically that “it is entirely reasonable in the wake of mass killings perpetrated by murderers with assault weapons to ask lawmakers to remove such weapons from civilian hands. It is imperative also to ask why, as early as this very week, Congress is likely to pass a bill making it easier to buy silencers, a piece of equipment that make it more difficult for law enforcement officials to detect gunfire as shootings are unfolding. 

“Even as we hold our lawmakers accountable, though, we must acknowledge that a comprehensive solution to gun violence, whether it comes in the form of mass shootings, street violence, domestic violence or suicide, will not simply be a matter of changing laws, but of changing lives. 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.” 

So I join with my fellow leaders and all people of faith in fervent prayer that our country will honor those murdered and wounded in Las Vegas by joining in acts of repentance, healing, and public conversation about the gun violence that has ripped us apart, yet again.