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Christian faith leaders call out government inaction on gun violence during vigil for Uvalde victims

"While it is perfectly acceptable to say my thoughts and prayers are with you...we should be doing something."

INDIANAPOLIS — The bells at Christ Church Cathedral tolled downtown 21 times in somber commemoration of every life lost at Robb Elementary School in Uvelde, Texas, on Wednesday afternoon.

Christian faith leaders from Roberts Park United Methodist Church and Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis called the community together to mourn at a public vigil while pleading with government officials to take some sort of action against gun violence. 

In two sermons, Rev. Dr. Andrew Scanlan-Holmes and Revered Gray Lesesne called out a "lack of action" on behalf of government leaders to address gun violence. 

"I think its a case of giving up whatever you perceive as being the power that is held by others, and stepping into what I believe is the will of the people. I believe that those senators — both within Indiana and across the whole of the states — could, if they, wish make a difference today," said Reverend Scanlan-Holmes, who is a minister with Roberts Park United Methodist Church.

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Speaking to nearly a dozen parishioners, both leaders advocated for tangible measures on the part of local and national legislators. 

For these two faith leaders, thoughts and prayers are no longer quite enough. 

"Whilst it is perfectly acceptable to say my thoughts and prayers are with you — that's great. But we also should be doing something. We are called to be active in the world. To make a difference," said Scanlan-Holmes.

Credit: AP
The archbishop of San Antonio, Gustavo Garcia-Siller, comforts families outside the Civic Center following a deadly school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

Both faith leaders specifically called on Indiana Senators Mike Braun and Todd Young to work on behalf of Hoosiers at the national level to pass gun reform legislation. 

"We wish we did not have to do this. We are numb, and sad, and angry all at the same time. As a leader, I've had to do this far too often," said Rev. Lesesne.

They pointed to HR 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, which would establish new background check requirements for firearm transfers between partners. 

The bill passed in the House, but has stalled in the Senate for more than a year.

As legislators delay passing measures related to gun control, faith leaders from across the country are continually tasked with addressing widespread community trauma in the wake of shootings. Going on scene to assist families of victims lost to gun violence, overseeing funerals, or holding vigils after mass shootings has partially defined Rev. Scanlan-Holmes' life since moving to the United States ten years ago. 

In the wake of persistent gun violence in the country, he said faith leaders are exhausted, and perplexed, as to how they can uplift communities mourning in the face of legislative inaction. 

"The church can step in and fulfill its role. But, in a sense, we step into a vacuum because nothing seems to be done," said Scanlan-Holmes said.

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