Hear the whispers of God then shout justice from the rooftops

Bishop Robert Wright of Atlanta opened the session of Georgia House of Representatives yesterday. In his remarks, he focused on gun laws and help for the "ignorant, the indigent and the immigrant." Some considered his remarks impolite.

Here is part of what he said to the Georgia House:

We know that God is still whispering to God’s people in that same “small still voice.” I hear it when I pray, don’t you? And when the whisper comes, it's never words of condemnation. It is always words of affirmation, always words that build up, always words of good stewardship of ourselves and of the weakest among us.

The problem with God is that what God whispers to us God then demands that we shout from the rooftops. (Matt. 10:27) As I listen to the quiet, I hear God whispering to us that we shouldn’t make an idol out of the Constitution. The framers of our republic were not infallible men. And they left much unfinished. An assembly as diverse as our gathering today was not provided for in the un-amended constitution! But the right to gather as we are today was won by prayer, action and compromise.

The real task of democracy today is not to mummify the Constitution with our fear but to revive its best hopes with our courage and compassion and continue the labor of the founders responsibly in the here and now.

So as America and Georgia aspire to continued greatness, greater safety for her citizens ‒ greater safety for her children ‒ must be a priority, which means we must enact meaningful changes to our gun laws as a nation and as a state.

It is hollow to respond to parents who have lost children to gun violence that their dead child is somehow just the price of keeping the Second Amendment intact. And it is unseemly to bury our law enforcement men and women knowing we didn't given them every advantage over the criminals they face.

On what reasonable grounds can we argue against background checks before the purchase of a weapon? To issue a weapon to someone without a modicum of scrutiny is not an exercise in liberty; it is an exercise in folly. I urge this body: Lead the South again from this gold dome, provide for the law-abiding gun owner and sportsman while at the same time making Georgia more safe.

When God whispers to us, those whispers make us bold ‒ bold not arrogant. Arrogance says I can and I have. But God-inspired boldness speaks of what God can do and what we can accomplish if we will partner with God. God-inspired boldness gives us the courage we need to confront and defeat the giants in front of us. And it gives the wisdom to recognize fear’s greatest temptation: to justify cowardice and selfishness.

But we have not been given a spirit of fear, as the Bible tells us, “but of power and of love.” If Moses had succumbed to his fears, he wouldn’t have led Egypt’s ancient revolution. If beautiful Esther had become a prisoner of her fears, she wouldn’t have saved her generation and generations yet to be born. Scripture tells us that “perfect love casts out fear.” Only love is dense enough to displace fear.


Comments (13)

What was the context of this "speech?" If this was couched as a prayer to open the session, Bp. Wright grossly overstepped his bounds and turned his prayer into a political statement. If he was asked to deliver some position speech on gun control, what was the further context?


[the link is in the story. ~ed.]

We Atlantans love our Bishop!

John Donnelly

Thanks, I missed the link and I didn't see the video until I got on my computer. After watching, I see the bishop grossly overstepped his invitation by turning a prayer into a political speech. The bishop doesn't understand that the one's affected by gun-control legislation is law abiding citizens. Criminals will get guns no matter what, and Amendment 2 had absolutely nothing to do with hunting or sport, but that the people of this nation may have the ability to defend themselves, their posterity, and their property. It is also to defend against tyranny In whatever form it may be found.

I'm in favor if gun control. But I wonder if its customary for those giving the invocation at the Georgia statehouse to give a sixteen paragraph speech beforehand? Are they used to that sort of thing in Atlanta?

Bill D., that's was the gist of my thinking too. A prayer before the legislature needs to be just that, a prayer for guidance and direction in their deliberations, not this diatribe from Bp. Wright.

Fr McQ, it certainly isn't like any invocation I've ever heard or heard about. After watching the video, it seems obvious that this is not some local Georgia custom and not what the bishop was asked to the statehouse for.

I think that's unfortunate, for political reasons as much as anything else. Delivering an unexpected sermon on a hot-button topic to a captive audience is not the sort of thing that makes for bipartisan cooperation. And judging from the reporters' comments in the video, the GOP legislators present didn't seem to be ready to reach across the aisle to address the topic of gun control because of the bishop's speech.

And of course, ignoring the instructions given you before the invocation (instructions that included not addressing any issue before the House) sets a terrible precedent. The Dem legislator interviewed may have found the bishop's speech "refreshing," but I bet he has a different reaction when some rightwing preacher harangues the House about abortion, or health care, or evolution, under the guise of an opening prayer.

I have never understood the "rules won't stop the criminals" argument about gun control. Speed limits only slow down the law abiding drivers, so why bother with those? Health and safety regulation only work for the conscientious, so why both with those? The Ten Commandments only work for the faithful, so why bother? Where does this argument end and why do otherwise conservative people only apply this approach to guns?

Andrew Gerns

Amendment 2 had absolutely nothing to do with hunting or sport, but that the people of this nation may have [guns] to defend themselves, their posterity, and their property.

Anathema.

JC Fisher

J. C. Fisher, just because you happen not to agree with that statement doesn't make it anathema. Please go read the Federalist Papers and what the founding fathers intended. History will completely agree with my statement.

I wonder what Jesus would have told this group of legislators? I suspect the Bishop's words are closer to His than to our fallible human ancestors. Would Jesus endorse our addiction to guns as a solution to violence?

I wonder how Jesus would have addressed the Georgia, or any, legislature? It seems to me the Bishop's words are more in line with those of Jesus than the words of our country's founders. Aren't we supposed to challenge the ways of the world that clearly are opposed to the ethic of our Savior, regardless of political correctness? Isn't fear the opposite of faith? How can any clergy person argue otherwise?

Fred Brown

Prayer in the legislature entangles church with state. What people may want is for something cute that doesn't challenge, making religion into a pet. What they might get from religion, however, is "You nest of vipers." Both the state and religion are cheapened when mixed.

Prayer for some people means some kind of sermon. That is not my tradition but I understand it.


Gary Paul Gilbert

Please go read the Federalist Papers and what the founding fathers intended. History will completely agree with my statement.

But Christian faith is not founded upon the Federalist Papers, Fr Will.

JC Fisher

Add your comments

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Reminder: At Episcopal Café, we hope to establish an ethic of transparency by requiring all contributors and commentators to make submissions under their real names. For more details see our Feedback Policy.

Advertising Space