A friend of mine, who has been working on gun violence prevention for thirty years, has repeatedly told me that the engagement of faith groups is critical to the growing movement to reduce gun violence. This is not about gun control; it is about gun safety.
I am firmly convinced that we, as people of faith, can make a difference in this epidemic of gun violence – by framing it as a public health crisis rather than a constitutional issue. And I am convinced that our work in reducing gun violence is a critical and necessary ingredient of being part of the Jesus movement, to which Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has called us to join.
The following press release from Bishops United Against Gun Violence, of which I am a convener, outlines other ways for us to be engaged in this emerging movement. I hope you will consider these suggestions – and that you will join me on June 2, National Gun Violence Awareness Day, in wearing orange to show your support for efforts to reduce gun violence.
For Immediate Release
Contact Jim Naughton
Bishops group urges Episcopalians to wear orange on June 2
Bishops United Against Gun Violence backs movement for common sense gun legislation
Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a group of more than 60 Episcopal bishops that advocates for background checks on all gun purchases and other violence prevention measures, is urging all Episcopalians to consider wearing orange on June 2 as a sign of their commitment to reducing gun violence in their communities.
“Poll after poll demonstrates that some 85 percent of Americans, including large majorities of gun owners and members of the National Rifle Association, favor background checks on all gun purchases, yet Congress won’t act,” said the Right Rev. Mark Beckwith of the Diocese of Newark, who convenes Bishops United in collaboration with Bishop Ian T. Douglas of Connecticut and Eugene T. Sutton of Maryland. “We need to take every opportunity to illustrate just how widespread the support for this simple legislation really is.”
The Wear Orange movement began in 2013 after Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old high school student, was shot to death on the south side of Chicago just a week after marching in President Obama’s second inaugural parade. Her friends asked people to honor Pendleton by wearing orange—the color hunters choose for safety—on her birthday, June 2. Their cause was taken up by gun violence prevention groups around the country who last year promoted the first National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
This year more than 85 partner organizations, including Bishops United, are urging their members and friends to wear orange to commemorate Pendleton’s life and to help pass common sense gun legislation.
Bishops United is asking Episcopalians to:
- Share material such as this post on Facebook and this tweet on Twitter
- Have their picture taken in orange garb on June 2 and posted on social media using the hashtags #WearOrange and #Episcopal
- Follow Bishops United Against Gun Violence on Facebook: Episcopalians Against Gun Violence and Twitter: The Cross Lobby.
Members of the clergy are invited to consider joining the movement initiated by the Revs. C. Eric Funston and Rosalind Hughes of the Diocese of Ohio to wear an orange stole on Sunday, June 5.
Bishops United also urges Episcopalians to work for handgun purchaser licensing, as supported by Resolution B008 of the 2015 General Convention, the passage of an effective statute making gun trafficking a federal crime, and the development of smart gun technology.
“In the gospel assigned for the Sunday after June 2, we read about Jesus restoring life to a widowed mother’s only son,” Beckwith said. “We don’t have the power to raise people from the dead, but sometimes we do have the power to keep them alive. Our hope on June 2 is that people across the country will join us in harnessing that power.”
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