To end gun violence, LI religious leaders preach direct action rather than ‘thoughts and prayers’

Some Long Island faith leaders say they are going beyond a “thoughts and prayers” approach after the Texas elementary school massacre and are calling on their followers to take direct action to end gun violence.

The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island says it’s time to repeal and revise the Second Amendment — the right to bear arms — to bring the Revolutionary era measure up to date with modern times.

Bishop Lawrence Provenzano’s appeal came after a man armed with a semi-automatic rifle killed 19 children and two teachers Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas.

Provenzano also says that during services this weekend he plans to call the National Rifle Association (NRA) and politicians who take their money.

“I think that’s part of the evil that’s at work in our society and in our political life,” he said, referring to the NRA’s vast fundraising efforts and political influence.

In places like Texas, “the idea that anyone who wants to can buy a gun and walk around with it, whether it’s a handgun or a long gun, is just plain insane, and it’s not not what the Second Amendment to the Constitution contemplated,” he said.

At the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury, mosque leaders will offer prayers for the victims and their families – but will also urge worshipers to take action, said board co-chair Dr Isma Chaudhry.

“If we are to honor the life and blood that has been shed, we must take action,” says Dr. Isma H. ​​Chaudhry, co-chair of the board of trustees of the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury. It airs on March 5, 2019.
Credit: Howard Schnapp

“Prayers and vigils are for those who survived to support one another,” Chaudhry said. “If we are to honor life and the blood that has been shed, then we must act. To act is to honor those we have lost.

“We need more action from our policy makers, our elected officials,” she added. “They have to act responsibly. We are not ready to sacrifice our young people.

Sensible gun laws are needed

Pastor Danny Rivera of Huntington Assembly of God, a Pentecostal church, called an impromptu prayer service Wednesday night at a local park.

While the service was prayer-driven, he also calls on his congregation to support actions to address gun violence.

“I don’t think an 18-year-old needs an AR-15,” Rivera said, referring to the gun the Texas gunman allegedly used to kill kids and teachers in their classroom. fourth year.

“This shooting was diabolical and a change needs to happen to delay the purchase of guns,” he said. “At the very least, a background check should be in place. Sensible laws must follow the call to prayer. Caring for the broken must be evident with actions in our community and beyond.

Rabbi Beth Klafter, of Temple Beth David in Commack, said she would offer prayers of consolation and healing to the families of the victims this Friday and Saturday while stressing that the faithful must come together to end the carnage.

“We must not only offer words of prayer, but take action in terms of recommitting to the political issues around gun control that remain unresolved,” she said.

She says she disagrees with politicians who argue that now is not the time to discuss gun control policies and that people should just pray for families.

“If this was the first time, we might say thoughts and prayers, but this is clearly a national emergency,” she said.

Some still insist on prayer

Just days before the Texas massacre, Klafter said, she was offering prayers for the victims of the Buffalo supermarket murders. “Not a full week goes by and we have another horrific shooting,” she said.

Not all religious leaders are using the Texas massacre as an explicit call for worshipers to seek ways to end gun violence.

Bishop John Barres, head of the Roman Catholic Church on Long Island, said in a statement, “Long Island Catholics join our brothers and sisters around the world in praying for all those affected by the shooting. tragedy at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. We especially remember the young victims and their families, and we ask Our Lady, Queen of Peace, to help this devastated community to know deeply the tenderness, mercy and the compassion of his Son.”

The Manhattan-based Catholic League, a conservative organization, said the root of gun violence is mental health issues, which the country needs to better address.

“There are five main reasons why we have mass shootings: the killer is antisocial; he comes from a severely dysfunctional family; he has mental problems; he is fascinated by violence; and the red flags were ignored by almost everyone,” Catholic League President William Donohue said in a statement.

Bishop Lawrence C. Provenzano of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island...

Bishop Lawrence C. Provenzano of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island said it’s time to repeal and revise the Second Amendment to bring the Revolutionary era measure up to date with modern times. It is presented at the Garden City Episcopal Cathedral on January 22, 2018.
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But Provenzano says the key to the violence is “access to guns. This does not happen in other countries”, which have “the same amounts of mental illness”.

The Second Amendment “did not envision everyone having the right to have an arsenal in their home,” he said. “There is no reason for a sportsman, a hunter, even a collector to own these assault weapons. They should be reserved for the military.

Reverend Dwight Lee Wolter of the Patchogue Congregational Church noted that places of worship, like schools, have become targets of gun violence.

Call for concrete actions

He said it was time to move beyond thoughts and prayers and take concrete action to protect what he called “soft targets”.

“My concern shifts from ‘Let’s pray and oh my God the sad and miserable world’,” he said. “I kind of got past the numbness and the rage and tried to adopt a defensive posture that’s not reactionary, but reactive. Because I don’t see this going to end.”

His church has undergone “Safe Sanctuary” training with the Suffolk County Police Department and other agencies — what to do in an active shooter situation. He thinks that this training should be generalized in schools.

His church now locks the doors once services begin, and sometimes off-duty police are in the pews.

“My church has given me no feedback on these security issues,” he said.

Meanwhile, Provenzano said that this weekend he “will be asking people to pray and put their prayers into action to try to influence a real sense of sound gun legislation.”

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