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.