Responding to Mass Shootings: Beyond Thoughts & Prayers

Beloveds ~

This is not the first time you have received a message from me after some terrible act of violence in our nation. Nor is it likely the last.

This week’s rapidity of one horrendous act of violence after the last is weighing heavy on my soul. Likely on yours, as well.  Certainly, on the soul of our nation.

Gun violence of this proportion is bad enough. But the added measure of white supremacist motivations adds deeper wounds to our society. And to my heart. And likely yours.

We cannot let it become a defining trait of our nation’s soul.

Too often it can feel like there is little we can do.  In case you are feeling that way, I want to offer this to you.

Last night, I took part in a nation-wide conference call for faith leaders, organized by, to address mass shootings, white terrorism, and community violence organized.  There were other UU ministers on that call.  Christian clergy, Jewish rabbis, no doubt other traditions were represented.

They are asking faith communities, leaders, and individuals to respond with more than “thoughts and prayers.”  They had three actions.

Reach out to our U.S. senators to make sure they are supporting HR8, which provides for universal background checks for gun purchases. This bill has already passed the House.  You can read HR8 by clicking here.

As far as I can tell, senators in New Jersey support this bill.  But that doesn’t much matter if it doesn’t get onto the Senate floor.  The organizers of the conference call said to reach out to senators in the following states to pressure them to get the Majority Leader to bring this bill for a vote.

North Carolina
South Carolina

If you know anyone in any of these states, please reach out to them.  Give them this information, including the talking points below.

Reach out to all our national elected officials – senators and representatives – and pressure them to hold public hearings and other actions to address the growing violence of white extremism.Not sure who your U.S. Representative is?  Click here, enter your zip code, and it will let you know.  If you want help thinking about what to say, here are some words that you can adapt and make your own:Representative ____________,
As a constituent in your district, I am increasingly concerned about the rise in hate-motivated violence.  More and more of the reported violence, especially gun violence and mass shootings, reveal nationalist or white supremacist motivations.  This is alarming.  I urge you as my Representative to call for public hearings on this epidemic of white-identity terrorism, to name it for what it is, to identify what is causing it to grow, and to fund means to bring it to an end.If you are white, please identify yourself to your elected official as such — they need to know that this is something white people want to tackle, not just communities of color.#3
They asked communities to hold a vigil or a worship service on gun violence during the week of August 11-18th. While we will not be changing our Sunday service plans, if I hear of a local vigil, I will be sure to get the word out.

Please do what you can to bring this scourge to an end.