By Don Plummer
ATLANTA - Bishop Rob Wright opened a session of the Georgia House of Representatives by speaking out on issues important to Episcopalians and other people of faith.
After meeting with House Speaker David Ralston and being introduced by Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, an Episcopalian from Decatur, Bishop Wright told lawmakers that he brought greetings from 56,000 Episcopalians in middle and north Georgia â€œmen, women, children, teenagers and feisty seniors in 109 worshipping communities ‒ Georgians from every walk of life, every political persuasion, every income level: your constituents.â€
Wright said Episcopalians pray weekly at worship services for legislators â€œbecause you hold the public trust and enlarge the common good. We pray that you â€¦ will walk with the powerful but remember to keep the common touch, â€¦ and hold on to your souls and your most generous selves in the face of the insidious temptation to care narrowly for your own constituency.â€
The real task of legislators, Wright said, is not â€œto mummify the Constitution with our fear but to revive its best hopes with our courage and compassion.â€
He called upon Georgia representatives to provide â€œgreater safety for her citizens ‒ greater safety for her childrenâ€ by enacting universal background checks for gun purchases.
â€œIt is hollow to respond to parents who have lost children to gun violence that their dead child is somehow just the price of keeping the Second Amendment intact. And it is unseemly to bury our law enforcement men and women knowing we didn't given them every advantage over the criminals they face.
â€œOn what reasonable grounds can we argue against background checks before the purchase of a weapon? To issue a weapon to someone without a modicum of scrutiny is not an exercise in liberty, it is an exercise in folly. I urge this body: Lead the South again from this gold dome, provide for the law-abiding gun owner and sportsman while at the same time making Georgia more safe.â€
He also called upon lawmakers to pass legislation providing for â€œthe ignorant, the indigent and the immigrants of our state.â€
â€œStep over your fears and do what is right on behalf of the elderly, the poor, the orphan, the veteran, the prisoner and those who love differently,â€ he said. â€œThe time is always right to do right. This is what Jesus of Nazareth invites us to do.â€ Read full text of his remarks HERE.
Wright ended his time at the State Capitol by offering the following prayer, then leading representatives in the Pledge of Allegiance.
â€œWonderful God, whom we know by many names, who is the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of all men and women: We know you to be good and faithful, gracious and full of mercy.
Look down on the state of Georgia and bless her richly. Where she is corrupt, purify her. Where she is in error, direct her; where she is right, strengthen her. Where she is in want, provide for her; where she is divided, reunite her. We ask all these things in the Name of God and of his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.â€
Afterwards Wright and his wife, Dr. Beth-Sarah Wright, were greeted by scores of legislators, who thanked him for his message and words of encouragement.
Photos by Amanda Coker for the Georgia General Assembly
Don Plummer is a member of St. Teresaâ€™s Episcopal Church, Acworth, and media consultant for the Diocese of Atlanta.