Bishop of Washington statement on Capital protests

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After a mob of protestors stormed the U.S. Capitol as Congress gathered to certify the results of the 2020 election, the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral, and the Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, issued the following statement:

Dean Hollerith:  Friends, on this tragic day, we are witnessing an outrage, and from the sacred sanctuary of Washington National Cathedral we feel compelled to speak directly to President Trump, and those within his party who have aided and abetted his attempt to hold on to power, all evidence and facts to the contrary, as well as to the religious leaders who have encouraged this behavior.  

Bishop Budde: Mr. President, there has been no fraudulent election. You called your supporters to our capitol, you fed their wild fantasies and conspiracy theories. You whipped them into a frenzy.  This is not acceptable.

And let us be perfectly clear: To those who see this as a Christian endeavor, or something to be blessed in the name of Jesus, there is nothing Christian about what we are witnessing today. Nothing. 

Dean Hollerith: Moreover, here in America, we have a constitutional framework for choosing our leaders. Though strained and rent asunder, that process has worked. And we must continue to allow it to work until it reaches its necessary conclusion. 

That process is built around our social contact as a nation. Together. One person, one vote. All votes are counted. The outcomes are respected. There will always be winners and losers, regardless of whether we voted for them or not. The peaceful transition of power is a bedrock principle of our system of government, and what we have seen today is what happens when peaceful means are discarded in favor of violence and lawlessness. 

Bishop Budde: Ours is a process is democratic, yes, but it is also built on some fundamental principles: we care for our neighbors as ourselves. We accept outcomes we may not like. We live to struggle another day. We are gracious in victory and magnanimous in defeat. 

But that is not what we are seeing today. The demonstrations here in Washington want to take those foundational principles — principles that have undergirded this nation for nearly 250 years — and toss them out. They do not respect our laws. The protestors do not respect our social contract. They do not respect our safety. And they bring dishonor to themselves and on those they claim to support. This. Must. End. 

Dean Hollerith: To the demonstrators, you have succeeded in that you have been seen and you have been heard. You have made your point. Now lay aside your violence, give rest to your anger and go home. Violence is not the answer, and it does not aid in your crusade. We realize you are angry, but that is no excuse for the violence or lawlessness you have shown today. I believe you are better than this because you are Americans and you carry within you the fingerprints of being a beloved child of God. You must do better. We must do better. 

Bishop Budde: To our first responders and law enforcement, thank you for bravely standing in the face of danger and doing everything necessary to keep our nation, our leaders and our institutions safe. You have our prayers for your health and for your safety, and we are so grateful for your service. To the residents of the District who are anxious and fearful, please know that we are praying for you, we’re praying for us all. We ask that you honor the Mayor’s directive and please stay home tonight. Please stay safe. And please join us in prayer. 

Dean Hollerith: And to our fellow citizens, today’s chaos at the Capitol is as clear a signal as anyone needed that we are a deeply divided and fractured nation. Look at the rage, see the fear, look at this pain. We cannot and will not excuse it, nor must we sanction it. But we must see the brokenness of our body politic, and as President-elect Biden just called each of us to do, we must step up to do what we can to repair the breaches in our life together. 

Bishop Budde:  As Christian leaders, we speak to you in the name of Jesus and his way of love. He calls us to love one another. Love requires sacrifice. It demands kindness. It seeks understanding. Love believes all things. Hopes all things. Endures all things. 

Dean Hollerith: My friends, we have endured much as a nation. And today shows you how much further we still have to go. But we have no other choice. We only have this life, only this nation, only this planet. We are in this together. God must be our guide, and love must direct our way. 

Bishop Budde: Let us pray: 

God of ages, in your sight nations rise and fall and pass through times of peril. Now when our land is troubled, be near to judge and to save.  May leaders be led by your wisdom; may they search for your will and see it clearly. In any ways we have turned from your way, help us to reverse them.. Give us your light and your truth to guide us; through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of this world, and our Savior. Amen.