Statement from the Council of Bishops
RE: NOT ORDINARY TIMES
October 28, 2018
In ordinary times, it would seem appropriate to say last week was a difficult time in the life of our nation. However, these are not ordinary times. Unfortunately, ordinary times are becoming rare in our nation. Last week the nation was startled by an individual who sent 14 pipe bombs to two of our former presidents, a former vice-president, former secretary of state, two former national intelligence officials, two US Senators, a Congresswoman, and other citizens. On yesterday, eleven people were killed and a number of people, including four police officers, were killed by a gunman who went on a shooting spree at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. Yet, while our minds were riveted by these evil acts, another incident received less attention when Gregory Bush, killed two Blacks at a Kroger in Louisville, Kentucky after he went to First Baptist Church in Jeffersontown, a Black congregation, with the intention of shooting those in the church. Fortunately, the doors were locked, and a member in their car in the parking lot called the police. Mr. Bush was later arrested.
These incidents have become common place in our country. We are no longer in shock or stunned by these kinds of incidents. While they are becoming common place, we should be alarmed by what is the impetus for them. The rhetoric and tone of our political leadership is not only polarizing the nation, it is also encouraging and motivating people to do these evil and despicable acts. Cesar Sayoc, arrested in Florida, claims Donald Trump is like a “father to him”, and sent these pipe bombs to anyone who Donald Trump has criticized or verbally attacked. Robert Bowers, arrested for the shooting in Pittsburgh, is anti-Semitic and was charged with a hate crime. He stated that he wanted to kill Jews. It is clear Gregory Bush intentionally was looking for Blacks to shoot. The impetus for these acts is that these sick people are being encouraged by what they see and hear coming from our leadership. In the current environment our political leaders are encouraging bias and violence on the basis of race and religion. Be clear, it is not from one party, or one leader, it is a bipartisan problem.
While it is a bipartisan problem, it must be acknowledged that Mr. Trump during his campaign and now as president, has had the loudest microphone, and been the biggest instigator. He does this to rally and motivate his base, many of who share his “nationalistic” thinking, and are opposed to immigrants entering the country. His and their view is that this is “our” country, with “our” meaning white Europeans. Most will not come out and say it, but they clearly think it.
The Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church extends our sympathy and prayers to the families of those killed in the Jewish Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and at the Kroger in Louisville, Kentucky, and for the policeman and others who were shot and hospitalized. We also call upon our political leaders, beginning with Donald Trump, and including leaders of both parties to exercise leadership and tone down their rhetoric and vitriol. Donald Trump despite his protestations is not a victim. He must lead in unifying the nation. We must however, express our doubt that he has it in him, or the desire to unite the nation. He feels it is in his best interest to have a divided nation.
We also call upon our ministers and congregants to be aware of the environment and mindset in which we live. Therefore, the Council of Bishops calls upon our churches and congregants not to take our safety and security for granted. Churches must take security precautions, especially for worship and other events where crowds will gather. We also encourage our congregants to be careful and observant wherever we are. No longer can we assume that when we leave home, we are assured of returning home. Public places can no longer be assured to be safe. Let us also be in fervent prayer for our nation and its people, as we pray for the world in which we live.
The Council of Bishops
African Methodist Episcopal Church
African Methodist Episcopal Church