Reflections on the Shootings in El Paso and Dayton

Photo Credit: “Thoughts and prayers are not enough, a student participating in National Walkout Day at the Capitol, Washington DC,” by Lorie Shaull

I woke up this morning to an email from my boss. It’s Sunday and he’s supposed to be on sabbatical, so I knew it must be urgent. He wanted to issue a statement about the shooting in El Paso and an urgent call to action. And while we were preparing the statement and list of resources, news of a second shooting in Dayton came in. Two mass shootings in 24 hours. And as of right now, nearly 30 dead and more injured.

When I started in my current position three years ago this month, I stopped sharing as much about social justice related issues on my personal social media accounts. Much of my work life and energy is dedicated to advocacy, communication, and education on issues of race, gender, immigration, poverty and homelessness, environmental concerns, gun violence prevention, and support for the LGBTQ+ community. With all of the hateful and divisive rhetoric coming from our current president, I always have to be on my toes and ready to address the president’s latest comment or policy decision. I don’t have as much bandwidth these days to engage as frequently in these same conversations with my many conservative acquaintances on Facebook.

But the events of the last few weeks have been weighing heavily on me. Our president continues his constant barrage of racist and hateful vitriol, indulging in his most authoritarian and narcissistic tendencies. Immigrants and asylum seekers continue to be mistreated by our government and new, racist policies are being put in place to drastically limit the number of refugees and asylum seekers we allow into the country – in the midst of the worst refugee crisis in modern history. And now we have two mass shootings in as many days – one of which was fueled by the same racism and bigotry that our president has been spouting since he began his campaign in 2015.

And through it all, I continue to see the conservatives in my Facebook feed bend over backwards to justify the actions and policies of our president and other powerful, abusive leaders. They post long statements filled with half-truth and cherry-picked facts, constantly use the refrain of “what about this” or “what about that,” delight in splitting hairs rather than engaging with the substance of the issue, share false reports and misinformation that supports their worldview, and deliberately obfuscate and talk around the truth to avoid facing the fact that our president is a racist, white supremacist, homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic, xenophobe. Many of these same people also profess to be Christians and have most likely spent the morning in church, in worship and prayer.

It is clear that the Republican party has become the party of death and hatred, unwilling to do more than offer up platitudes in the face of these horrific acts of violence and terror, unwilling to criticize a leader who foments hatred and division – a leader who is unapologetically racist and believes in white supremacy.

I know this post will mostly be preaching to the choir of acquaintances who care about issues of social justice, but if you’re a conservative and/or call yourself a Christian but still support Trump and oppose policies like sensible gun reform, I have a few things I’d like to say:

  • If you call yourself a Christian and still support Trump, you support racism and white supremacy.
  • If you call yourself a Christian and still support Trump, you support sexism and misogyny.
  • If you call yourself a Christian and still support Trump, you are choosing to ignore Christ’s call to care for the immigrant and the stranger, the widow and the orphan.
  • If you call yourself a Christian and still support Trump, you support homophobia, transphobia, and the continued marginalization of the LGBTQ+ community.
  • If you call yourself a Christian, support Trump, and oppose sensible gun reform, you are perfectly fine with all of the innocents killed by gun violence each year and don’t care if the children in your life are killed in one of the almost weekly mass shootings that has become all-too-common in our country.

And for those Trump supporters and gun reform opponents who walked into their church services this morning offering their “thoughts and prayers,” I have the following words from Isaiah:

So when you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Yes, even though you multiply prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood.

Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.
(Isaiah 1:15-17)

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