Tag Archives: gun control

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Stop Praying to End Gun Violence

Once again, sadly, righteously angry, from Feb 14, 2018, this time remembering families and victims at Santa Fe High School.

Ash Wednesday evening and what we now know is that 17 young people have been murdered by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.  Many more are injured and possibly more will succumb.  Politicians who robotically spout their “prayers and thoughts” are with victims hide behind prayer and religion while their hands take money from the NRA. Bloody hands!  Bloody politics.  Stop praying to end gun violence, Congresspersons. We didn’t send you to Washington to pray nor to instruct we who pray in our churches, synagogues, mosques and temples about prayer. We sent you to legislate and protect your citizens.  Stop praying to end gun violence and start legislating sensible gun control laws! We who take religion seriously deny you the use of piety to hide your inept and callous disregard of our children and young people, our fellow citizens.

This past October,  I preached a sermon entitled, “We Need To Talk About Gun Violence.” If you search inside this site for “guns,” you will see over a dozen entries devoted to this topic. After years and years of massacres the only conclusion we can rationally make is, our culture is depraved. The level of depravity is stupefying and it permeates every level of our culture.  In this season of Lent, let us ponder this reality, seek God’s redemption in our own lives and let us work side by side with those who want to end this scourge of gun violence in our country.

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The Beloved Community in a Middle School Auditorium

On Sunday, February 25th, we handed out grants to seven of the ten groups our Endowment Team had chosen in an effort to “bless those who heal the world.”  This year we heard from each of the grantees in what I can only describe as a crescendo of joy and hope.  Each of these recipients represented their organization in splendid fashion. We were moved to tears by their testimony and their work.  It occurred to me as I listened that we were seeing nothing less than an actualization of the Beloved Community in a middle school auditorium.  With squeaky chairs, powerful songs and a modest room with two banners and a table with candles, we were transformed.

I couldn’t help but think as well that we were sitting inside a public school where children are sent every day of the week, Monday through Friday. They arrive to learn, not to shiver in fear for being shot.  We who worship there pray fervently for these children at Jefferson Middle School and of course, in schools throughout our nation.  As a nation, we can do far better than proposing mad “solutions” like arming teachers.  This suggestion made by the President is especially grievous and utterly illogical.  Let us as a church discover ways to bless the school in which we find ourselves.  Of course, we can say that we provided both Jefferson and Amidon with $4,000 grants last year. And that is a way to bless them of course. But above all, let us advocate for their safety and let us vote people into Congress who will stand up to the bloody NRA.  It is past time to get a grip on this and stop allowing one group to pervert the second amendment into a formula for carnage throughout the schools, venues and streets of our country.

Yesterday, we illustrated that people who are very different and do not see eye-to-eye on any number of theological or social matters can reach across that chasm and embrace one another.  Jewish, Islamic, Christian and Agnostic people, working to heal the world, found each other yesterday and in the process of finding one another and embracing, we ourselves were healed and filled with hope. This is how it should be.  Put down your guns.  Put away your sword.  Let us do better.

Army Ten Miler, The Wharf, and Worship

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Coming in the Fall of 2018, our new sanctuary

This Sunday morning, October 8th, is the Army Ten Miler race.  Click here for a map so you can prepare your travel plans into the District.

This coming week, The Wharf has its formal opening and there will be multiple activities and opportunities to see and experience the new SW.  On Sunday October 15th at 4 pm Pastor Bledsoe will participate in a blessing of the Wharf along with other SW clergy.  Our own Lauren White will begin the service as she sings Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna’ Come.   Join us on the District Pier.

The center of our week is worship.  Please join us at 10 am each Sunday at Jefferson Middle School Academy in the school auditorium.  Pastor Bledsoe will be addressing our nation’s gun violence with reference to the assasination of President James Garfield.

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When Your Existence Is Your Crime

Friday, June 16.  Philando Castile’s extrajudicial executioner was acquitted on all charges by a Minneapolis jury.

Wednesday, June 21.  Sylville Smith’s extrajudicial executioner was acquitted on all charges by a Milwaukee jury.

Friday, June 23.  Samuel DuBose’s killer is free because a jury in Cincinnati was deadlocked and this for a second time.

Two Sundays ago, I preached a sermon, PROUD, in honor of PRIDE week and in remembrance of the victims of the Pulse Nightclub massacre. In that sermon I quoted from the novel,  Notes From a Crocodile by Qui Miaojin, in which her major character, Lazi, a young gay woman in Taiwan, talks about her life and the life of LGB persons in post-martial Taiwan in the 1980s, saying that she and others like her are confined to the prison of stigma and abuse simply because, “your crime is your existence.”

Philando, a gun owner whom, were he white and shot like he was by a policeman, would have had the NRA howling in protest but of course, because he was Black, the NRA is strangely silent, was guilty of one thing that day that led to his execution. His crime was his existence.

This happens over and over in our country.  If you’re a White Republican congressman who is shot, then a howl goes up but strangely enough, it is not a howl about the proliferation of guns but a howling aimed at demonizing liberals as if the only ones killing in this country of upwards of 30 and 40 thousand handgun deaths annually were committed by ideological leftists.  This would be analogous to blaming liberal waiters for food poisoning diners and then refusing to ever investigate the root cause of the outbreak.  But I digress. You can read my blog post about that here, “Armed and Dangerous.”

Any number of groups of our fellow citizens are threatened daily—women, African Americans, GLBT, Jews, Immigrants of various kinds by a hatred and violence that is simply unacceptable.  We won’t pretend, by the way, that many of these groups aren’t demonized and abused and even killed within their own minority communities.  But here is the terrible fact facing us today:  not only is a withering violence permitted by police (and others) against persons who are deemed by their very existence to be criminal but we have a Congress and a President who perpetuate it and we have, as a people, condoned it.

I’m a clergyperson and am very tempted to say to these perpetrators and their advocates who are now complicit in their heinous crimes that they are going to hell. But that won’t solve the hell we have created right here, right now.  White folks, you got a ton of atoning work to do.  Mr. President, you should grow up and lend your voice to healing our country.   Congress, you are about to commit a crime against millions of Americans, sending them down a river of suffering and loss by opposing their fundamental right to healthcare. And we know you have sold your souls–Democrats and Republicans alike–for NRA money.   Church, fellow citizens, there are better angels calling to our natures and our actions.  We should listen to them.

Black Lives Matter.  Stop Violence Against Women and convict their rapists and murderers.  Love your neighbor, including immigrants.  Stop blaming Jews for the murder of Christ, Roman soldiers in the First Century did that.  LGBT citizens deserve to live fully, freely and protected by the Constitution.  And for once, hold accountable a police officer who carries out what is an extrajudicial execution.

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Armed and Dangerous: Liberals, Conservatives and A-politicals

In a blog post on June 26, 2016, I wrote:  Gun violence in America is a scourge.  Had an invader killed as many of our citizens, we would be demanding a declaration of war from our Congress.

On June 12, 2016, after the massacre at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando I wrote:  We in the United States are living in a country that is terrorized by its own inhabitants. We are and have been perpetually at war now for more than fifteen years.  We are polluted by violence.

On October 2, 2015, I wrote about the problem of gun violence as a problem with our human nature (not our political label):  For we are a corrupted people whose hearts, like a branch infested by insects, are hollowed out.

Today, June 14, 2017, I say again:  stop gun violence in this country. The shooting of people who differ from us politically, by race, gender or religion, is despicable.

ON this day, when once again an armed individual shot a Congressman, a staff member,  and two Capitol police officers; in San Francisco, where four were killed at a UPS center; and in a year when another 30-40 thousand or so people will be murdered by guns, we say yet again:  we desperately need to regulate guns and ammunition and we need to speak to our culture that is in love with death.  This is not a Republican or Democrat issue. It is a human issue.  It is about our civilization.  And it is simply galling that those who have dedicated their lives to making access to weapons available without regulation then feign surprise when shootings occur.

Tomorrow and the day after and the week after, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, liberals, conservatives and a-political individuals will take up arms and kill people.  Don’t be fooled by the likes of Newt Gingrich or Steve King who seek to use these crimes for their own ideological ends. The problem is and has been the easy access to guns and assault weapons.   We have heard it said and rightly so that had it not been for the police detail assigned to Congressman Scalise, things would have been worse.  To those who point that out, let me remind you that for the vast numbers of Americans, we have no guards assigned to protect us.  The Congress, State Congresses and Supreme Court have, along with the profit motive of gun manufacturers and sellers,  filled our streets with weapons.  We are being gunned down every day. Some more than others.  It is far past time for honest appraisals of why this is so.

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Again: Race & Violence in America–A Compilation of Sorrow

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Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison.

Christ, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy

Terence Crutcher.

How many times must we turn to one another and ask that the violence stop?  Race and violence in America is a problem. That is an understatement.  Gun violence continues to strike at the heart of our nation and yet, the idol worshippers of Moloch insist on feeding our children and their future to the Gun god.  Lay down your sword. Do not give your allegiance or your hearts to those who divide, hate and insist on violence.  There is no way to peace, peace is the way as the Fellowship of Reconciliation chants it.  Below is a compilation of statements made over the last few years that speak to these issues.

Open Letter to White Christians

The Mocking of Christ

Guns + Hatred in America

The Scourge of Gun Violence

Defying Injustice, Speaking Truth

Ferguson

Orlando

Shame on Jerry Falwell

Charleston

Baltimore

McKinney, Texas

Paris

Mourning Brooklyn Police Officers

Mr. Beck & Some Lives Matter

Order the Flags at Half Staff

Refuge in a Profanely Violent World

The State of Race in America