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Religious leaders call for prayer and action following Florida school shooting

“A child of God is dead.”

That message came Wednesday (Feb. 14) not from a religious leader, but from CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd as he broke down while discussing the school shooting that had happened earlier in the day.

In all, 17 people were killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., making it one of the deadliest school shootings in modern American history.

The shooting came on Ash Wednesday, when Catholic and many Protestant Christians remember their mortality as they begin the penitential season of Lent. It also happened to be Valentine’s Day, when many Americans plan to celebrate their loved ones, not lose them.

Details still are emerging, and authorities have not commented on a motive. The 19-year-old suspected gunman reportedly had been expelled by the school.

And many religious leaders are still searching for words in the aftermath of the tragedy; most called for prayer, while some begged for that prayer to be accompanied by action.

— by Emily McFarlan | RNS

Here are some statements:

Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:

Today our nation’s attention is on Broward County, Florida, and the news of multiple fatalities at Parkland High School. As parents, every time we hear the terrible news of another school shooting, Eva and I are heartbroken and deeply troubled for our country. Our hearts and prayers are with the parents and family members of those children who have lost their lives.

Let every American stop what he or she is doing, and call out to God on behalf of all America’s students, that God would spare our nation of ever again having to mourn such a senseless loss of life at our children’s schools.

 

Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force

Psalm 145:18 says, ‘The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.’ This is a moment when every American who professes to believe in God must call on Him with all of his heart. Let us pray for the victims of this terrible attack and their families the way we would like others to pray for us. It’s in times like these when we need God’s presence and comfort the most. May God be with all of us and our nation.

 

Pastor Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California

Only three weeks after a fatal school shooting in Kentucky, our hearts are broken once again by news of yet another, this time in Broward County, Florida, with multiple lives lost. We mourn with the parents and families who have lost their beloved children, and for the community of Parkland, Florida, that has just had its world turned violently upside down.

Students should never be afraid to step onto their school’s campus, and parents should never have to see images of their children fleeing the scene of a shooting on the news. Let us pray for God’s comfort for all the victims and let us never grow tired of praying that these types of mass shootings will one day soon come to an end in America.

 

Tim Clinton, president of the American Association of Christian Counselors

This tragedy, like so many before, highlights the glaring need for our country to better understand and destigmatize mental health issues. I agree with Broward County Public School Superintendent Robert Runcie who said mental health issues, ‘need to be addressed within our school systems as well as the broader society to make sure these tragedies don’t continue.’ To prevent these atrocities we must identify and reach out to those who need our caring intervention, guiding them to healing and away from potentially harmful decisions. For today, though, we must focus our efforts on comforting the brokenhearted and those traumatized by the evil they encountered.

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