Offering thoughts and prayers at times of tragedy has been mocked by liberals before. The day after the terrorist mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., New York’s Daily News ran a full-page headline reading “God Isn’t Fixing This.”
But when a church comes out and apparently denounces prayer in the aftermath of an horrific event, you know something is wrong.
That is what the First Congregational United Church of Christ in D.C. did when it featured signs from the “March for Our Lives” in its windows that dismissed the power of prayer and demanded instead stricter gun control measures.
The church featured several of the protesters’ signs in its windows at the front entrance to the building. Among the signs were one that read “Thoughts & Prayers Don’t Save Lives” and another that said “We Need Gun Control, Not Thoughts & Prayers” in large, bold lettering. Rev.
Audrey Price, the Senior Supply Minister of the church, sent a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation, defending the signs as part of an “art installation.”
“With the Enough! exhibit, we elevate the voices of these youth and young people at First Congregational. We also honor the individuals who were killed in Parkland, other school shootings and in daily gun violence throughout our country,” Price wrote in the statement.
The church also displayed a poster featuring information about the march and the protesters’ demands and proffered a link to pro-gun-control website Every Town For Gun Safety as an answer to “What can you do to help end gun violence?” The link brings users to a page prompting them to donate to the website’s organization.
The poster does not, however, specify the signs were part of an art exhibit and also does not clarify whether the messages on the signs align with the church’s beliefs about the power of prayer — or lack thereof. No posters featured in the windows advocate prayer or God as part of the answer to gun violence.
The church acknowledges the need for prayer to empower the congregation to affect change in society, Rev. Price wrote in the statement she sent to TheDCNF.
“We realize we cannot obtain peace and justice through human efforts alone. Through prayer and the power of God and the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to continue our work together to bring forth this transformation of our world,” the statement noted.
The church adheres to a Just Peace theology, which promotes reconciliation in Christ as the solution to perceived injustices, the statement added.
“Grounded in UCC polity and covenantal theology, the position focuses attention on alleviating systemic injustice of all types using non-violence and calls us to offer the message, grounded in the hope of reconciliation in Jesus, that ‘Peace is possible.’”
The church did not post any such statement promoting prayer or reconciliation in Christ among the signs displayed in the windows for passersby to see. Church representatives did not respond to TheDCNF’s repeated inquiries as to whether they were concerned passersby might construe the prayer-denouncing signs as the church’s overarching message. Church representatives also did not answer why they chose to display those particular signs, given Price’s statement on prayer and the plethora of signs from the march that promoted gun control without denouncing prayer.
First Congregational prides itself in the fact the UCC denomination “has been bold in extending an invitation to all.”
“For example, our historic denominations were first to ordain an African American pastor (1785), a woman (1853), and a gay or lesbian person (1972),” a poster displayed just inside the church’s front doors.
The church considers “racial justice and working to confront white privilege as a critical priority,” the church’s website advertises. The church is part of the Sanctuary movement and seeks to protect illegal immigrants from deportation by the authorities, the website also promotes.
This report, by Joshua Gill, was cross posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.