Church leaders condemn Pittsburgh Tree of Life Shooting

candles zoran kokanovic 530941 unsplashA mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in which 11 people died has been condemned by the United Reformed Church (URC), the Inter Faith Network for the UK (IFN), and the Faith Communities Forum.

The victims – eight men and three women aged between 57 and 94 – were targeted at the Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday (27 October) morning.

The alleged gunman, Robert Bowers, 46, is in custody to face charges against what is said to be the worst anti-Semitic attack in recent US history.

In a statement the IFN – of which the URC is a member – and Moderators of the Faith Communities Forum said: ‘[The] terrible antisemitic attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, USA, has been responded to here in the UK with prayers and with words of condemnation and strong messages of solidarity with the Jewish community from across the UK's faith communities.

‘Like attacks on churches, gurdwaras, mosques, temples and other places of worship of different faiths here and around the world, it is a reminder of the need to condemn extremist violence in the strongest terms and to stand together and to continue to work together with ever greater urgency against ignorance, prejudice and hatred. 

‘There is no place in civilised society for antisemitism. Nor is there a place for Islamophobia and hatreds targeting communities of other faiths and beliefs. 

‘All communities must be able to exist in safety and to practise their faith freely and without fear.’

Mr Derek Estill, Moderator of United Reformed Church General Assembly, added: ‘Our thoughts, prayers and sympathy go out to all those who have lost loved ones or who have been affected in any way by this horrendous and senseless act of barbarity against Jews during an act of worship.

‘We pledge our support and resolute determination to work to combat antisemitism wherever and whenever we can and urge others to do the same.’

He offered this prayer: ‘We pray that love will triumph over hate in all its forms and for peace and friendship amongst all peoples. As Christians we remember that new commandment from Jesus Christ to love each other, so important in our troubled world, and commit ourselves again to this by holding all affected close in our prayers at this most difficult and painful time.’

Picture: Burning candles by Zoran Kokanovic/Unsplash