Our outrage must evolve into the will to stop the gun madness
Editor’s Note: The following is a letter submission from Faith Forward Dallas. Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square is a diverse coalition of Dallas faith leaders dedicated to service, hope, and a shared vision of justice and peace for our North Texas community. Faith Forward Dallas leads our virtue initiative and serves as a moral compass for the community.
And now to Texas, once again… Our hearts are heavy with a deep sense of sadness and loss at the news of the senseless deaths of 19 innocent children, two teachers and the gunman at an elementary school in Uvalde.
With the pain of the loss of innocents in Buffalo, NY on May 14 still fresh in our minds, we now add our thoughts and prayers for the grieving families, praying that they will receive the sources of strength and courage they will need in the days, weeks and even years to come as they seek to find meaning in shalom in the current chaos.
We share with those in Uvalde our deep appreciation for the speed, expertise and professionalism of first responders at all levels caring for people at the scene and across the city. We pray that local leaders, both civic and religious, will have the strength and courage to lead their communities through darkness and brokenness into the light and healing they need.
In our country, as of this date in 2022, we have over 200 separate mass casualty shootings. Churches, synagogues, mosques and schools are targets. We once thought it would be impossible, but sadly the idea that it was impossible was shattered again with another school shooting, with more children falling victim to gun violence.
We have to say the names: Columbine. Red Lake High School in Minnesota. West Nickel Mines School in Pennsylvania. Virginia Tech. Oikos University in California. Sand hook. Umpqua Community College in Oregon. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Santa Fe High School. There are dozens more, and now Uvalde. When does it end? How many children have to die before the most sophisticated country in the world can find a way to stop this? How many times are we going to get angry? How many letters will we have to write? How much lobbying do we still have to do?
It’s not a question of what to do to stop this madness; it’s a matter of having the will to do it. Perhaps more than ever, we must raise our voices and our spirits to say that this hatred and this violence is not who we are, who we wish to become, it is not the heritage that we choose to leave it to our children.
Reverend Rachel Smith, founder of God Not Guns, wrote: “As believers, we must bear witness to the destructive power of gun violence. We must say that we will not rely on weapons, but on God. We will not affirm guns, but life. We will not bless guns, but our common humanity. We must uphold a higher value, say that the lives of our children are a sacred trust and that human life is more important than any gun.
More importantly, we must recognize that violent rhetoric leads to violent action, especially when we transgress the biblical injunction not to remain indifferent. As parents and children, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, we must never let this happen. It is time to act, beyond “thoughts and prayers”.
Rabbi Andrew Paley, President, Temple Shalom; Reverend Dr. Neil G. Thomas, Co-Chair, Cathedral of Hope UCC; Almas Muscatwalla, Executive Director, Faith Forward Dallas.
Bishop Michael McKee, Dallas Area of the United Methodist Church; Reverend Deanna Hollas, Gun Violence Prevention Ministry Coordinator, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship; the Reverend Dr. Daniel Kanter; Reverend Andrew Fiser; Reverend Heather Mustain.
Reverend Pavielle Jenkins, First United Methodist Church Richardson; Reverend Amy W. Moore; Linda Abramson Evans, Interfaith Council or Congregation Beth El Binah; Chris Slaughter; Harbhajan Singh Virdee, Sikh community; Reverend Cathy Sweeney, associate pastor, Arapaho United Methodist Church; the Reverend R. Casey Shobe, rector of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration; Reverend Joe Stobaugh; Reverend Debra Loudin-McCann, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Reverend Karen Fry, co-spiritual director of the Center for Spiritual Living Dallas; Dr. Petra Weldes, Spiritual Co-Director, Center for Spiritual Living Dallas; Reverend Larry M. James, Emeritus of CitySquare; Reverend Billy Echols-Richter, Grace Avenue United Methodist Church; Reverend Mitchell Boone, Senior Pastor, White Rock United Methodist Church.
Reverend George Mason, Faith Commons; Wendy Fenn, co-founder, Faith & Grief; Pastor Preston W. Weaver, retired elder, St. Paul United Methodist Church-Dallas; Rev. Dr. Charles L. Aaron Jr., Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University; Reverend Holly Bandel; Reverend Alexandra Robinson; Virzola Law, senior minister, Northway Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Reverend Nicole Bates, NorthPark Presbyterian Church.
Reverend Anne Tabor, Arlington Unit; Reverend Chelsea Turpen; Reverend Kate Morgan, Church of the Elohist Thelema; Reverend Victoria Robb Powers, University Park United Methodist Church; Reverend Erin Wyma, Associate Pastor, Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ; Reverend Phil Dieke, White Rock UMC; Reverend Michael J. Baughman, Oak Lawn United Methodist Church.
Reverend Betsy Lyles Swetenburg, Northridge Presbyterian Church; Rabbi Nancy Kasten, Faith Commons; Bishop Erik Gronberg, ELCA North Texas and North Louisiana Synod; Reverend Dawn Anderson, Associate Pastor, Lovers Lane United Methodist Church; Dr. S. Benjamin Brown Sr.; Rev. Kristine Totzke, Bishop’s Associate for Leadership Training and Congregational Care, NT-NL Synod.
Donna Schmidt, volunteer leader, Dallas chapter of Moms Demand Action; Rabbi Brian Zimmerman; Joyce Hall, Pax Christi Dallas Coordinator; Gary Looper and Robin Nevin; Pastor Marcus D. King, Disciple Central Community Church; Samuel Voth Schrag, pastor, Peace Mennonite Church; Huseyin Peker, Executive Director, Dialogue Institute Dallas; the Rev. JI Minor; Reverend Dr. Lil Smith.
Reverend Kathy Lee-Cornell, Presbyterian Church (USA); Reverend Melinda Wood Allen; Rabbi Joshua Taub; the Reverend Dr. Michael Diaz; Amy Lewis Hofland; the Reverend Phil Hodson; Reverend Rachel Baughman, senior pastor of Oak Lawn United Methodist Church; Minister Sammie Berry, Dallas West Church of Christ; Reverend Jeremy Rose, Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ.
Rabbi David Stern, Temple Emanu-El; Rabbi Kimberly Herzog Cohen, Temple Emanu-El; Reverend Laura Fitzgibbon, Acting Pastor, The Nor’kirk Presbyterian; Cantor Vicky Glikin, Temple Emanu-El; Reverend Andria M. Davis, Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ; Rabbi Daniel Utley, Temple Emanu-El; Rabbi Debra Robbins, Temple Emanu-El; Rabbi Amy Rossel, Temple Emanu-El; Rabbi Shira Wallach, Congregation Shearith Israel; Michelle Kinder; Cantor Sheri Allen; Rabbi Mark Washofsky.
We welcome your thoughts in a letter to the editor. Consult the instructions and drop your letter here.