June 25, 2022
Dear Siblings in Christ,
Yesterday, in the case of Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion that was recognized in the formative 1973 case Roe v. Wade. On Thursday in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, the Supreme Court struck down a New York gun law regulating concealed carry of firearms. These decisions are deeply distressing to us, and we believe them to be contrary to a nation that seeks to provide care and safety for its citizens.
We join with colleague members of Bishops United Against Gun Violence (BUAGV), in our joint statement acknowledging that the Supreme Court had previously held that the Second Amendment may be subject to regulations that protect “sensitive places.” Houses of worship are such places, and over the last decade there have been numerous mass shootings in houses of worship including the killing of three of our own siblings in Christ a week ago at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama. Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling, however, puts people of faith at even greater risk when we gather for prayer, worship, fellowship and service. At the same time, we thank our elected officials in Washington DC, especially Senators Murphy and Blumenthal and their key leadership, in passing a bipartisan gun bill signed into law by President Biden today.
The Episcopal Church affirms that all human life is sacred and that “abortion has a tragic dimension, calling for the concern and compassion of all the Christian community.” The Episcopal Church has also stated “its unequivocal opposition to any legislative, executive or judicial action on the part of local, state or national governments that abridges the right of a woman to reach an informed decision about the termination of pregnancy or that would limit the access of a woman to safe means of acting on her decision.” (General Convention Resolutions 1988-C047 & 1994-A054.) Yesterday’s decision is not only contrary to our church’s position, but will result in unequal access for women seeking healthcare across the United States, disproportionately harming poor women.
Several clergy and lay people throughout The Episcopal Church have graciously made available a Service of Lament and Healing regarding Roe. Vs. Wade which can be found here. On Tuesday, June 28 at 8 PM EST on Zoom, Bishops United Against Gun Violence will host "Doing Our Part: How Episcopalians Can Respond to Gun Violence in Our Communities and States." This event is for bishops and all Episcopalians who are concerned about gun safety to learn about what we can do in our states to limit the damage of the recent Supreme Court ruling; realize the promise of the proposed new federal law; and respond when gun violence happens in our communities and states. The link to register can be found here.
Siblings in Christ, the compounded news of the Supreme Court’s decisions this week, and in weeks past, can take a detrimental toll on one’s spirit and hope for our country. Please remember that faith is no delusion, and that hope can exist, even in the midst of fear. Real faith does not deny suffering and pain, the pain that Jesus knew on the cross, but is fueled by the belief that despite any discouragement and danger we may face, through God’s love in the Resurrection we can find our persistence to prevail.
The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Bishop Diocesan
The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens, Bishop Suffragan