During our Lenten Communion services, Rev. Betsy Aho led us in a lament on the existence of the phrase ‘another mass shooting.’ How can we not be upset when so many continue to be killed and hurt?
In light of several recent shootings, I am thankful that the Christian Reformed Church, which is the denomination that supports Campus Edge, recently put out a statement on mass shootings.
The following are some highlights of that statement:
“As Christian Reformed people, we grieve this loss of life. We grieve the hatred and extremism behind these acts of violence. We, as God’s church and society, grieve that we’ve been unable to put a stop to mass shootings
What these shootings have in common is a fuel of false narratives that the gunmen were allowed to feed on. They were hearing stories about, connecting with communities that support, and believing in the idea that some people are less human than others, and that these “others’” lives are worth less. As long as this fuel is allowed to continue, senseless deaths will continue.
White supremacist acts of terror have been committed in the United States from its earliest days, at the hands of those most often radicalized on the margins or in secret. Today, these ideas have come into the mainstream, and have been espoused and amplified by people in leadership, even in the highest elected offices.
Words matter. Using dehumanizing and hateful speech when referring to immigrants, refugees, and people of color, fuels and affirms violent actions against them. And these words, especially when they come from people in leadership positions, greatly displease our God.
The document continues by providing biblical basis for their condemnation of racism, as well as condemnation for those, especially authority figures, who do not use their influence to do good to all people, especially those most vulnerable. We are encouraged to do something since “we know that words can fuel and affirm violent actions.” So the statement calls on all members of the CRC to “take an active stance against false narratives. We ask them to stand up against racism and acts of white supremacy. We ask them to speak up against words of misogyny and of hatred toward immigrants. We ask them to be proactively anti-racist, proactively anti-sexist, and to proactively promote the dignity of all people.”
We, too, at Campus Edge, encourage everyone to:
- “pray for the president and prime minister of our respective countries, our elected officials, and those with the most resources and political influence, that they will use their positions of power to promote the dignity of all people, particularly people of color, immigrant communities, and women targeted by these shootings
- pray for those who are grieving following incident of mass shootings and violence
- pray for Latina/o, people of color, and immigrant pastors and congregants of the CRC who may be feeling overwhelming fear and grief at this time
- pray for people of color, immigrants, refugees, and other vulnerable and marginalized people who are too often the targets of hate speech and violence fueled by false narratives in society
- pray that the individuals, who have been radicalized or are at risk of being radicalized by hateful rhetoric, would learn truth and find community with truth-tellers
- lament the ways in which the church (and Christians) have not only been silent about these false narratives but has, at times, used them to oppress others
- speak up from our individual places of influence when we notice hate-filled speech and white supremacist beliefs being shared around us
- extend an act of kindness or encouraging word to your colleagues, neighbors, fellow church members, and friends that are Latina/o, immigrants, and/or people of color.”