Bishop Mariann Budde of Washington and Bishop Ian T. Douglas of Connecticut tell why they will orange as they work for an end to gun violence.
Budde writes on the blog of the Diocese of Washington:
Once a year, in honor of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old girl shot and killed in Chicago in 2013, her friends wear orange to remember her and symbolize their desire to be seen. Hunters wear orange to keep others from killing them, they reasoned, and so they would do the same.
That prophetic act has become an annual event across the nation. This year, with other members of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, I’m joining in, as an act of prayer and a visible reminder to myself and others that evil persists when people of goodwill do nothing.
If you’d like to be inspired to take a stand for what is right, watch the video that tells the story of Hadiya’s friends. What if, in memory of all who have lost their lives to gun violence, we all wore orange on June 2nd and then again on Sunday June 5th? It could be our collective prayer and witness, joining with others across the country. You can learn more here .
I know it’s not easy to talk about the issues that divide us as Americans, such as gun violence, from the perspective of our Christian faith. But we simply must persevere with courage and love. In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
Douglas writes on the Christian Century blog:
Here in Connecticut, we have learned about remembering those who have lost their lives because of senseless gun violence. An image, a phrase, a chance meeting, or a date on the calendar so easily brings back the profound tragedy of December 14, 2012, when Adam Lanza shot and killed first his mother, and then 20 school children, six adults, and finally himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School. With sacred and secular rituals of memorial services and vigils, we struggle to honor and cherish the loved ones we have lost.
We owe our children something we can no longer give them—safety, protection, a society in which the slaughter of innocents is unthinkable rather than routine. Sadly, the best we can do is redouble our efforts to provide some sense of security to the children who are still with us. The work is urgent: in the three years after the tragedy in Newtown, a child under 12 was shot and killed in this country every other day.
That is why I am wearing orange on June 2 to mark National Gun Violence Prevention Day. I hope you will, too
He cites some sobering statistics that frame the crisis in gun related violence:
Whenever faith leaders take up a cause such as gun violence prevention we can count on a few correspondents urging us to stay out of politics and stick to what we know. So here are a few things I know:
- More than 34,500 people died of gunshot wounds in this country last year. Of that numbermore than 21,000 killed themselves. Some 27,000 people received gunshot wounds and lived.
- The price of gun violence is borne by women, children, and people who are already victims of poverty and racism.
- More than 750 children were killed by gunfire in 2015.
- Almost 560 American women are shot to death by a romantic partner every year.
- Homicide is the leading cause of death among African American women aged 15 to 45.
- Black men make up six percent of the U.S. population and about half of those killed by gunfireeach year.
One more thing I know: a society that does not work to end violence against God’s children has no claim to righteousness.