Gun violence, voting rights, social safety net discussed

By David Paulsen
Posted Jul 4, 2018

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] The Social Justice and United States Policy Committee kicked off its hearings at the 79th General Convention on July 4, taking up resolutions relating to gun violence, the social safety net and voting rights, while leaving resolutions on immigration for an upcoming hearing.

Bishop Sutton

Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton speaks in favor of a gun violence resolution July 4 at a hearing of the Social Justice and United States Policy Committee, held in a ballroom of the JW Marriott in Austin, Texas. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

The morning hearings, held in a ballroom at the JW Marriott hotel in downtown Austin, covered eight resolutions and lasted about an hour. More than 15 people spoke to the resolutions, and most of their voices were in favor. The committee next will meet to modify the resolutions, as needed, and decide whether to send some or all on for full legislative consideration.

“This is a wonderful committee that’s ready to go prayerfully to work,” Bishop Suffragan Anne Hodges-Copple of North Carolina said to draw the day’s hearings to a close.

Another eight resolutions relating to immigration were assigned to the committee and presumably will generate even more debate. Those resolutions will all be taken up at the committee’s hearing scheduled for 8 a.m. July 7.

The committee opened its July 4 hearing by inviting all in attendance to join in singing a hymn, “We All Are One in Mission,” followed by an opening prayer.

Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton, who was due to attend another one of the morning’s meetings, spoke on behalf of Bishops United Against Gun Violence in favor of Resolution B005, recognizing gun violence as a public health issue.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Full ENS coverage of the 79th meeting of General Convention is available here.[/perfectpullquote]

“We are in an epidemic,” Sutton said after highlighting some statistics showing the sheer volume of deaths in the United States due to guns. “Think of the cost to our families, our communities, our health systems.”

Virginia Bishop Shannon Johnson, a member of the committee, spoke in support of Resolution B002, a measure he proposed to engage the church in working against government and institutional corruption.

Few people would argue with the evils of corruption, Johnston said, but his resolution seeks to push Episcopalians to actively speak out against it at all levels, in this country and countries around the world.

“Corruption is dangerous evil,” he said. “For far too long, religious communities and churches have not spoken up to challenge corruption and to work alongside other partners in the global transparency movement. … As Episcopalians, we have an obligation to root out corruption where we see it.”

A couple of people spoke in favor of D013, which seeks to end the loophole in the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that abolished slavery except for prison labor. There also were passionate pleas for passage of two resolutions targeting voter suppression and gerrymandered legislative districts (C047).

Harold Patrick, an alternate deputy from Southern Ohio, who spoke on several resolutions, emphasized that the hearing was happening on the United States’ Independence Day, and the voting-related resolutions are “really about the fundamental right that we all have to vote, and to vote equally and properly.”

Patrick and others provided firsthand witness to the need to repair the United States’ deteriorating social safety net, as called for by Resolution C041. Patrick spoke from his experience as an affordable-housing developer. Several young adult members of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship spoke about poverty-related issues they have worked on, including education and health care.

One resolution that wasn’t warmly welcomed was C015, which calls for stricter punishment for manufacture and possession of guns without serial numbers.

Hodges-Copple noted that the resolution was submitted by the Diocese of Bethlehem without explanation. After a member of the Official Youth Presence read info from the diocese’s website, the Rev. Stan Runnels, an outgoing member of the Executive Council from the Diocese of West Missouri, chose to speak against the resolution, saying it sounded like the measures referenced would simply put more people in prison, and the lack of an explanation leaves the committee with little reason to believe otherwise.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at


Comments (11)

  1. Frank Harrision says:

    Suppose that you are a liberal Democrat and that I am a moderate Republican yet we are both Episcopalians. There is little doubt these days that we would both see corruption in the “other part,” in different ways but there. And what you saw in my position I might well deny as corruption, and the same as to what I saw in yours. WHO, then, is to judge within the Episcopal Church is to officially say what corruption is? The liberal Presiding Bishop? Over the last years, there is a group of Episcopalians who have already forced out of The Church. Does The Church want this to continue and especially within claims of loving and accepting everyone? I am only pleading for care and caution in such resolutions, vague and ambiguous as it is in its stating, as BOO2. In the meanwhile, peace be with you ….

    1. John Hobart says:

      I think there are a lot of us who wish they would tone down the partisan political rhetoric, but I don’t hold much hope for that sort of wisdom to prevail.

      1. Frank Harrision says:

        I certainly agree with you. Calm down the partisan language, which is to help to calm down oneself. And please when arguing and discussing an issue do follow the laws of rational thought and not the dictates of one’s emotions/feelings. Admittedly emotions/feelings are often very strong motivators, Emotions/feelings are not evidence for the truth of anything.

        1. Douglas Crellin says:

          If emotions were removed none of these proposals would have been submitted. Cars kill far more people than guns, the church decries immigration policy of the US but demands membership for access to their benefits which is totally hypocritical to their position on immigration.

          I have been a lifelong member and their SJW activism is getting me to the point of leaving. The church has been overtaken by liberal SJW’S.

          1. Frank Harrision says:

            I said NOTHING about removing emotions/feelings/beliefs. I did say that these do not constitute evidence for truth. I can be strongly motivated to murder someone. Does my strong motivation make that right to do? Certainly, without emotions, we do nothing. But, merely doing is not enough. It has to be right doing.

  2. Tim Vann says:

    Please write clearly. There is a lot of double speak in the comments I just read.
    Speak simply.

  3. Steve Price says:

    Corruption is defined by Webster as dishonest or fraudulent conduct .I’m opposed to liberal,moderate,and conservative corruption.Neither the P.B.nor anyone else in the Episcopal Church has to decide what is or is not corruption.Statutory law has already done that

    1. Frank Harrision says:

      So, you think that statutory law — written law usually of a legislative body — is the key. That children can legally be taken from their parents under certain circumstances is embedded in various statutory law. Yet, many of my Episcopal friends think that this is “dishonest or fraudulent conduct.” What you write, which may not be your actual view, would embrace this conduct. The point here is that statutory law itself can be bad law. So, who is decide within The Church what is “dishonest or fraudulent”? Let me know if this comment is not simple and straightforward enough. Certainly, I agree with you: We are all opposed to dishonest or fraudulent” behavior. A problem is that various people may see a given conduct from several perspectives, as I said in my first note. Some may see it as “dishonest and fraudulent” whilst others not. Such disagreement now often ends in shrill shouting instead of reasonable conversation. This is not only very sad, It is also very dangerous.

      1. Bill Louis says:

        Any American citizen who is arrested for a crime may have their children taken from them and placed in foster care if another parent is not available. Why should that be different for immigrants who are not citizens that have commited the crime of entering the country illegally? All they would have to do is to go to a port of entry and ask for amnesty and their children would remain with them. The others, who sent their children away alone thousands of miles with strangers have no right to complain. So I don’t get your argument.

        1. Matt Ouellette says:

          Illegal border crossing is a misdemeanor, not a felony. Do you really think ripping children from their parents is a fitting punishment for illegal border crossing? I see it as cruel and unjust, as do most Americans (liberal and conservative). If it is so important that they go through a port of entry, why not just transport the families to the closest port of entry instead?

          1. Bill Louis says:

            It good for citizens then why should it be any different for illegal aliens entering into the country. It’s meant to deter breaking the law. How would illegal entry be discouraged if free shuttles are provided to entry points. The point is to have migrants enter the country through legal means like those that do follow the law. What is a country without laws. It don’t get your logic.

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