American Christian leaders and megachurch pastors have condemned and expressed their solidarity with the victims and families of the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh on Saturday.
The massacre left 11 people dead at the Tree of Life synagogue and many lamented that anti-Semitism continues to swirl in the country.
The suspect, 46-year-old Robert Bowers, said that he “wanted to kill Jews” before entering the worship building with an assault-style rifle and multiple pistols. Media profiles reveal that he raged online against Jewish and Muslim people, blaming them for many problems in America and accusing them of “committing genocide to my people.”
Some, such as ethicist Russell Moore, declared in no uncertain terms that “if you hate Jews, you hate Jesus,” however.
Here are six reactions to the slaughter by notable Christian leaders and pastors working to strengthen Christian-Jewish relations.
1. Russell Moore
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, stated on his website that “if you hate Jews, you hate Jesus.”
“Sadly, in a time when it seems that every week brings more bloodshed and terror in this country, we should not let the news cycle move on without a sober reflection of what this attack means for us as Christians,” Moore said of the massacre.
“Such is especially true as we look out a world surging with resurgent ‘blood-and-soil’ ethno-nationalism, much of it anti-Semitic in nature,” he declared.
“As Christians, we should have a clear message of rejection of every kind of bigotry and hatred, but we should especially note what anti-Semitism means for people who are followers of Jesus Christ.
“We should say clearly to anyone who would claim the name ‘Christian’ the following truth: If you hate Jews, you hate Jesus.”
The ethicist insisted that Christians must always remember that all of them are “adopted into a Jewish family, into an Israelite story.”
2. Rev. Alvin Herring
The Rev. Alvin Herring, executive director of Faith in Action, an international network of 39 federations and local groups in 21 states and three countries, condemned anti-Semitism and hate-fueled rhetoric in America.
“We stand today with our Jewish loved ones, heartbroken and angry to find ourselves in the wake of yet another mass shooting. We mourn the lives lost today to hatred and anti-Semitism fueled by politicians, just as we’ve mourned the hundreds of thousands of lives lost to gun violence since a gunman opened fire in a Connecticut elementary school,” Herring declared.
“Today’s shooting is not the only act of violence this week committed in the name of hate. Only two days ago, two Black Americans were killed, including the father of the woman in charge of diversity and equity for the city of Louisville, after a gunman attempted to enter First Baptist Church in Jeffersontown with the intent to kill African Americans,” he added, referring to a separate incident in Kentucky on Wednesday where a white shooter attempted to enter a black church.
“Both instances of gun violence come in the shadow of a string of pipe bombs sent to several Democratic officials and public figures.”
3. Bishop Joseph Bambera
Bishop Joseph Bambera, bishop chair of the Committee for Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, talked of the horrors of the attack, but also the bravery of the first responders.
“Yesterday morning, death and violence entered a house of worship. The attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, is a cowardly act and to be condemned by all Americans. Those killed and injured represent the best of who we are: people of faith gathered to pray and celebrate the birth of a child and officers responding to the ensuring violence with no concern for their own safety,” Bambera said in a statement.
“Anti-Semitism is to be condemned and has to be confronted by our nation. The Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stands with our Jewish brothers and sisters during this time of great distress.
“May God grant peace to the dead, healing to the injured, and comfort to the families of those hurt and killed and to all the Jewish Community.”
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Source: Christian Post