I don’t write every time there is a mass shooting in our beloved country. I do pray every time there is one (about once a week) and I pray daily for the 95 Americans a day killed in the public health crisis of gun violence. And, with you, I take part in witness events – like those organized by our youth at Smith & Wesson. I contact politicians locally and nationally pleading for gun safety laws, and engage in socially responsible investing for our Episcopal Church to buy stock in gun companies to gain influence in stockholder meetings.
But I am writing today about the most recent mass shooting at the offices of the Capital Gazette Newspaper in Annapolis. Five people dead. Two wounded. Threats made on social media in advance of this horror. On February 20 of this year, we held a “Blessing of Journalists” at our Cathedral. It touched the soul of bishops and church leaders throughout the country who will be offering it the future. In that liturgy we acknowledged the great blessing that journalists are to us.
We pray, in this changing era of journalism, for those from the various forms of media who fulfill the sacred trust of reporting on the lives and events of this world.
We acknowledged how crucial they are to democracy.
“If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free AND many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid we would lose much of our individual liberties overtime.” Sen. John McCain
And we prayed for journalists who are in physical danger throughout the world.
We remember especially those who are pressured by their government, those who are threatened and silenced, those who are put in harm’s way by their work, and those who have lost their lives throughout the world reporting on the news.
Physical danger to journalists has now struck close to home. It is not state sponsored. It is by no means government sanctioned. But our government bears the responsibility for our gun laws, and our government officials bear responsibility for the way in which they refer to the work of journalists as, “fake news.”
We pray for the dead and the wounded. We pray for the grieving families. We pray and we continue act for policies that address the public health crisis of gun violence. And we call for the end of tweets and speeches from the highest office in this land condemning journalists and demeaning their work – work that often places their lives in jeopardy.
Jesus gave us a Spirit that guides us in his mission of mercy, compassion and hope. It is also a Spirit of courage and prophetic power. May we have the courage to let Jesus’ mission guide our lives completely. If not now, then when?