Religious leaders from around the country Friday attacked the “senseless shootings” this week, including the ambush that killed five Dallas police officers on Thursday, and called on other pastors to “do whatever we can do to help bring America together.”
“Once again our nation is faced with the reality of senseless shootings,” said Jerry Young, president of the National Baptist Convention USA, and Ronnie Floyd, the immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Young heads the largest historically black denomination in the United States, while Floyd served the nation’s biggest Christian evangelical denomination.
Their statement referenced the deaths of Alton Sterling on Tuesday in Baton Rouge, La., Philando Castile on Wednesday outside St. Paul, Minn., and the five Dallas police offices on Thursday.
“With the tragic and devastating news of these recent killings, along with the seven others who were injured in Dallas, we are reminded that violence and retaliation are never the solution to our frustrations and anger,” the pastors said. “Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are extended to the family of each victim.
“May all know that we are resolved as spiritual leaders in this nation to do whatever we can do to help bring America together.
“May the wisdom of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. provide us the needed encouragement today: ‘Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’
“Now is the time to come together in love and unity, praying for America,” Floyd and Young said.
In Texas, El Paso Catholic Bishop Mark Seitz, who once served in Dallas, called for calm and prayer.
“My heart is broken to hear that last night, in my former home of Dallas, once again violence has been employed against innocent people, this time against police officers who have dedicated their lives to protecting us, men and women who were guarding a peaceful protest,” Seitz said, The El Paso Times reports. “In a week in which the country is rightly horrified by what appears to have been unprovoked shootings of people of color, the cycle of violence has continued to exact its terrible toll.