[Religion News Service] A group of clergy protested outside Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office on Tuesday (Aug 6), calling on the Republican Senate majority leader to take action to address gun violence in the wake of two mass shootings over the weekend.
The band of around two-dozen faith leaders, who called themselves the Coalition of Concerned Clergy, prayed and challenged what they said was the Senate’s inaction on the issue of gun violence.
Helping lead the event was the Rev. Rob Schenck, who serves as president of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, a nonprofit organization that addresses social issues from a Christian perspective. He listed a number of possible policies lawmakers could pass to address gun violence, such as universal background checks or “extreme vetting” for citizens wishing to purchase an assault rifle, but stressed the issue is a moral one.
“As a Christian … we are required to rescue those who are perishing, to come to their aid, and the Bible says if you fail to do it God will hold you to account,” Schenck, who is also a founding signer of an evangelical Christian pledge to take action on gun violence, told Religion News Service. “That’s our message to the senator today. Maybe he fears the NRA more than God. He shouldn’t.”
Also in attendance was Bishop Mariann Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, D.C. A longtime advocate for gun violence prevention, Budde said Congress could pass a number of laws to prevent future bloodshed.
“I am among those who believe weapons of war don’t belong in the hands of civilians,” she said. “We’ve just been lulled into this sense of false helplessness that I find to be one of the greatest manifestations of sin that we need to fight against.”
Speaking to the crowd a few minutes later, Budde compared the scourge of gun violence to the rash of lynchings in America’s past, expressing hope that future generations will recollect mass shootings with disdain and disbelief.
“We will look back on these days and wonder how it was that we could have been so collectively aligned to such a needless proliferation of weapons meant to take human life,” she said.
As they stood outside McConnell’s office, faith leaders read the names of those recently felled during mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.