Statement from the Bishops of Long Island Regarding Shootings in Buffalo and Laguna Woods, California
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
The Rev. Howard Thurman, Baptist minister, theologian and civil rights leader, once wrote, "Hate cannot be defined. It can only be described." Hate was unleashed on both sides of the country last weekend with shootings in the East Side of Buffalo and at the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California. This is reflected by the calculated brutality and inhumanity of the two gunmen who purposefully sought to kill and injure innocent people because of the color of their skin, and their nation of origin. The sin of racism and prejudice can describe their motives, but we cannot let their hate define us. Hate comes from the soul when we turn our backs on God; it is an act against the very substance of our redeemed humanity as the people of God.
The shootings in Buffalo and in Laguna Woods, California, were especially significant for us in the Diocese of Long Island. Our Assisting Bishop R. William Franklin is the retired bishop of Western New York. Our Presiding Bishop, Michael B. Curry, was raised in the East Side of Buffalo; his father was the neighborhood priest. And since we have a significant Taiwanese population in our diocese, there are people in our midst deeply affected by the shooting in California.
As bishops of the church, servants to God's people, who have vowed to defend the people entrusted to our care, we demand that action be taken to address the careless rhetoric and ignorant posturing that fuels hatred, sets people against one another, and belittles the peace makers in our midst.
In this vein, we call upon all religious leaders to call out the evil of White nationalism. We must seek unity and concord in every setting. Rather than fueling division and mistrust as a way of gaining status and control, we must work together, pray together, teach together, and minister to our communities together.
A common denominator in these two separate incidents, along with the other 201 mass shootings in this country this year-and it is only May-is the availability of firearms, and the complacency of elected officials who refuse to act to save lives and pass gun control legislation.
The very nature of the ideals we hold dear in this nation are being torn apart by hate. We need an abundance of love shared between all of God's people, respecting the dignity of every human being and defending each other's right to be. Love is the only way.
We call upon the clergy and people of our diocese to pray for the victims and their families, to pray for the police and emergency responders and their families. But above all, we call upon our people to prayerfully and deliberately share the love of Jesus Christ. Love, genuine, unconditional love will always conquer hate.
The Rt. Rev. Lawrence C. Provenzano Bishop of Long Island
The Rt. Rev. Geralyn Wolf Assistant Bishop of Long Island
The Rt. Rev. Daniel Allotey Assisting Bishop of Long Island
The Rt. Rev. R. William Franklin Assisting Bishop of Long Island