As our nation reels from the mass shootings in Dallas, Orlando, Charleston, San Bernardino and countless other senseless tragedies, we look to communities of faith for strength and solutions. Bishop Eugene Sutton is a reservoir of both.
As head of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and co-founder of Bishops United Against Gun Violence (BUAGV), Sutton is harnessing the convening power of church leaders to counter the epidemic of gun violence in our country. What started out as several bishops coming together after Sandy Hook turned into more than 60 bishops dedicated to confronting the idolatry of violence.
“Faith leaders are in the healing business,” said Sutton. “And violence is a disease. We’re challenging the disease.”
The initiative empowers faith leaders to have difficult conversations about gun violence in their communities and to advocate for common-sense gun laws.
Under Sutton’s leadership, the group has brought together a diverse coalition of faith leaders — Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and others — and successfully lobbied for the passage of the Maryland Firearm Prevention Act in 2013, which limits access to assault weapons and excludes guns from schools. “We as a nation have worshipped for far too long at the altar of the gun” he said. “We put our faith in firearms instead of faith in God.”
What gives Sutton the motivation to take time out of his busy schedule overseeing more than 100 schools, churches, and institutions in the episcopal church? In one word: hope. “I get up in the morning because it’s going to happen. We are going to win this battle against gun violence. There is a greater spirit at work than the spirit of violence.”
To those who wish to do the work of God that Sutton has accomplished he says: “Keep walking, and first learn to listen to one another. Do a lot of listening with those whom you think are your enemies. It can go a long way.”