Pundits politicizing and polarizing instead of praying about Las Vegas tragedy

David Virtue david at virtueonline.org
Fri Oct 6 20:42:07 EDT 2017

Pundits politicizing and polarizing instead of praying about Las Vegas
Washington Bishop says prayer is not enough

By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
Oct. 5, 2017

It is so easy to ridicule, demean, and rush to judgment before all the
facts are in, so it didn't take long for the pundits to come out of the
woodwork to criticize, satirize, or politicize the horrific shooting
tragedy in Las Vegas Sunday night, which left 59 dead and hundreds
wounded, some still clinging to a thin thread of life in area hospitals.
Even the church is not immune to wading into the fray.

An attorney for CBS went to Facebook to post her commentary even as the
horrendous situation in Las Vegas was yet unfolding. She was the first
to be axed for her early ill-mannered comments: "If they wouldn't do
anything when children were murdered I have no hope the Repugs
[Republicans] will ever do the right thing," attorney Hayley
Geftman-Gold posted. "I'm actually not even sympathetic bc [because]
country music fans are often [R]epublican gun toters."

CBS was quick to respond: "This individual [Hayley Geftman-Gold], who
was with us for approximately one year, violated the standards of our
company and is no longer an employee of CBS," the television network
announced in a formal statement. "Her views as expressed on social media
are deeply unacceptable to all of us at CBS. Our hearts go out to the
victims in Las Vegas and their families."

In the nation's capital city, Episcopal Bishop Mariann Budde (IX
Washington, DC) declared that prayer was not enough.

"As people of faith and of prayer, we know well -- we know better than
anyone -- that thoughts and prayers, while important, are insufficient,"
she said at Tuesday's outdoor interfaith gathering at the National

For her, the insufficiency of prayer lies in lack of gun control. She is
a member of the Episcopal Bishops United Against Gun Violence (EBUAGV)

"It has become cliched at moments such as these to offer thoughts and
prayers. But as Christians, we must reflect upon the mass killings that
unfold with such regularity in our country. And we must pray ..." the
united Episcopal bishops said in a released statement. "And then, having
looked, we must act."

Tuesday, Bishop Budde rang the National Cathedral bells 60 times in
remembrance of those who died in Las Vegas. This is not the first time
she tolled her cathedral's bells. In 2013, the mourning bell sounded for
the students, teachers and staff killed at Sandy Hook School in Newtown,
Connecticut. She again sounded the tolling bell in 2015 for the shooting
victims at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

The Washington bishop rang her bells in solidarity with Bishop Dan
Edwards (IV Nevada) who asked his churches to toll their bells for those
who died Sunday night. Other Episcopal churches across the United States
joined in the tolling of their mourning bells.

"As Christians, we are called to engage in the debates that shape how
Americans live and die, especially when they die due to violence or
neglect," the EBUAGV statement continues. "It is entirely reasonable in
the wake of mass killings perpetrated by murderers with assault weapons
to ask lawmakers to remove such weapons from civilian hands."

"In the United States of America, our beloved country, still the world's
super power and self-proclaimed moral force for good in the world,"
Bishop Eugene Sutton (XIV Maryland) thundered Tuesday from his pulpit at
the Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation in Baltimore at the special
Service of Lament for Victims of Gun Violence. "Over thirty thousand of
our citizens are killed every year by firearms. Another eighty
thousand-plus are shot every year, most of whom will carry permanent
injuries, and all of whom will carry emotional scars for the rest of
their lives."

Bishop Sutton is one of the three Episcopal bishops, along with Bishop
Mark Beckwith (X Newark); and Bishop Ian Douglas (XV Connecticut), who
founded Bishops United Against Gun Violence in 2013. The group members
nearly 70 active and retired Episcopal bishops.

Following the election of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the Episcopal
bishops, all decked out in their flowing bright red chimeres and snowy
white rochets marched down Salt Lake City, Utah streets during the 2015
General Convention, bringing a focused attention to their united front
against gun violence.

"Our country is feasting on anger that fuels rage, alienation and
loneliness ..." the EBUAGV Las Vegas statement notes. "We must, as a
nation, embrace prayerful resistance before our worse impulses consume

The Episcopal bishops are also supporters of the annual National Gun
Violence Awareness Day in early June. Even though orange is not a
liturgial color, the bishops don orange vestments and stoles for the
day. They join other faith-based organizations, such as cultural,
educational, journalistic, political and athletic groups as well as
other community clubs of various sorts to raise awareness of gun

The EBUAGV not only focuses on bloodshed by firearms, but they also
highlight what they call the unholy trinity -- racism, poverty, and gun

President Donald Trump called the deadly Las Vegas carnage "an act of
pure evil." Evil is defined as: profoundly immoral and malevolent;
wickedness and depravity.

The postmodern world has had to deal with various and escalating forms
of evil: Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust (1933-1945) ... Idi Amin and
ethnic cleansing in Uganda (1971-1979) ... Roe Vs. Wade and lawful
abortion that rips out an unborn child from the safely of its mother's
womb (1973 - current) ... Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 terrorist attacks
(2001) ... the Pakistani Taliban attack on All Saints Anglican Church in
Peshawar (2013) ... Jihadi John's YouTube videos of ISIS beheadings
(2014-2015) ... Dylann Roof and Charleston's Mother Emmanuel AME Church
Bible study shootings (2015) ... Stephen Paddock and the Route 91
Harvest country music festival massacre in Las Vegas (2017) ...

Across the Atlantic Ocean, Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is
attending the 2017 Primates' Gathering, hosted by Archbishop of
Canterbury, Justin Welby. Then tragedy struck in the Diocese of Nevada.
The Archbishop of Canterbury reached out to the American presiding
bishop to lead the prayer for the victims and those reeling from the
shock and devastation left in the wake of Las Vegas carnage.

"Michael Curry, who is a citizen of the United States, was asked by us
-- after we had talked with anguish about the events in Las Vegas -- we
said: 'Could you lead a prayer as we begin our prayers together at
Evensong?'" Archbishop Welby explained.

"Dear Lord," the Presiding Bishop prayed: "... We come to you tonight,
Lord, with sorrow in our hearts, for 58 of your children are no longer
with us, and some 500 of your children are hurting physically and
emotionally, and one of your children took their lives, and they are all
our sisters, they are all our brothers, they are all your children ..."

Later, the Archbishop of Canterbury was "taken back" by GAFCON's
apparent pushback on the decision to ask the American presiding bishop
to pray for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting at the start of
Monday's Evensong in Canterbury Cathedral.

By Tuesday afternoon, ACNA Canon Andrew Gross, the Canon for
Communications and Media Relations for the Anglican Church in North
America, weighed in on the subject.

The Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) reported that Canon Gross
"...speaking on behalf of GAFCON, said that the decision to invite
Michael Curry to lead the congregation in prayer at the Evensong service
'put the GAFCON primates in a difficult spot.'"

Reportedly, the American canon was speaking at a press conference in a
hotel near Canterbury Cathedral. Canon Gross explained that GAFCON
primates were "forced to look like they are walking together when they
are not walking together."

"People all over the world are praying for Las Vegas," the Archbishop of
Canterbury shot back. "I don't think we ought to bring church politics
into Las Vegas. I mean, it is the most dreadful, horrendous, appalling
event. I suppose that I would be surprised and disappointed by that

The Anglican world has joined in common prayer before. In the Spring of
2014, then Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, called
The Episcopal Church into prayer for the violence which was rocking
South Sudan.

"Prayer, at the very least, changes our own hearts, it joins us to
people who are in the midst of radical suffering," she explained.
"Prayer is a reminder that we are all connected. We are all children of
the same God."

Then, during Advent 2014, the Presiding Bishop called The Episcopal
Church to unified prayer for the Province of West Africa, which was
battling the Ebola pandemic, including the hardest hit dioceses of
Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

"I ask your prayers for the people of West Africa in the midst of this
plague," the former Presiding Bishop said. "Today we continue in a
covenant relationship of mutual support and fellowship."

By Wednesday, a codicil was added to the ACNS story, attempting to
clarify the ACNA-GAFCON connection: "This article was amended on 4
October, to make clear that Canon Gross was not thought to be speaking
on behalf of any Anglican primate and that his church, the Anglican
Church in North America (ACNA) is not part of the Anglican Communion or
involved in the Primates' Meeting."

However, the ACNS story failed to mention that Archbishop Foley Beach
(II ACNA) is a member of GAFCON and an active part of the Primates'
Council. Canon Gross is Archbishop Beach's go-to media man for ACNA
press communications and, as such, the Canon is also very involved in
GAFCON public relations.

Archbishop Beach may not be attending the October 2017 Primates'
Meeting, but he did attend and was very influential in the January 2016
Primates' Meeting.

Canon Gross has not responded to an inquiry by VOL for further comment
about his earlier reported GACFON remark.

Thursday, GAFCON issued a statement entitled: "We Are Not Walking

"The persistent assertions that the Primates of the Anglican Communion
are 'walking together' do not reflect the reality," GAFCON's statement
begins. "Three of the leading Primates of the Communion are absent on
firmly stated principle.

GAFCON Chairman, Nigerian Archbishop Nicholas Okoh said: "I have
concluded that attendance at Canterbury would be to give credibility to
a pattern of behavior which is allowing great damage to be done to
global Anglican witness and unity."

Ugandan Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, GAFCON's vice-chairman, added: "If
we are not walking in the same direction, how can we walk together?"

"In no way can these leaders, with the Archbishop of Rwanda [Onesphone
Rwaje], be said to be 'walking together,''' the GAFCON statement
continues. "They have chosen to witness to the truth by their absence."

"The presence of the Primates from Canada [Fred Hiltz] and the United
States [Michael Curry] and the absence of Archbishop Foley Beach, whose
Church [Anglican Church in North America], is recognized by Anglicans
around the world, is a further testimony to a Communion in which the
leaders are not walking together," the GAFCON statement continues.
"Several of the other primates who are attending the meeting are equally
concerned about the divisions over the authority of Scripture within the
Communion, but intend to remain in defense of the Gospel. The Primates
are not walking together. At best, they say, 'they are walking at a
distance.' At worst, 'they are walking in different directions.'"

Thursday's GAFCON statement concludes: "Surely public statements need to
reflect reality rather than mere wishfulness."

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular
contributor to VirtueOnline

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