The brutal act of terrorism against Jews in Pittsburgh has united many in the Judeo-Christian family in Pennsylvania and the country at large to pray and seek the Lord during a time of sorrow.
According to Reuters, a gunman yelling, "All Jews must die," stormed Tree of Life Synagogue during Saturday services, killing 11 worshippers and wounding six other people including four police officers, before he was arrested.
Here's how major faith leaders are responding:
Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and senior pastor of New Seasons Christian Worship Center in Sacramento, California:
As Americans, and as a fellow community of faith, we can testify that nothing is quite as despicable, horrifying or barbaric as when worshippers of any tradition or creed are targeted for what they believe, or as is the tragic reality today, senselessly murdered for it. We at the NHCLC stand in unity with the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, as well as the larger Jewish community throughout America, and affirm our deeply shared kinship and love— unbreakable bonds that span millennia. Where one of us is less safe to believe, we are all effected and we are all less free. While we thank God for the bravery of our first responders in law enforcement, our hearts are deeply grieved by this senseless violence. We pray that the wounded would heal, that the family and friends who have lost loved ones would be comforted, and that justice would ultimately be swiftly served.
Jentezen Franklin, senior pastor of Free Chapel:
I plead with all of America to pray for our brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh who have awoken to the news of this horrible tragedy. I grieve with my Jewish friends in the aftermath of such senseless hatred. People of every faith must be able to worship freely and without fear. This is a hallmark of our nation's history, and every faith leader must treat this as an attack on the free expression of worship, regardless of their own religious beliefs.
I can't imagine what the families of these innocent victims are experiencing right now. But I want them to know that the entire nation is grieving with them. We need to do more to protect our places of worship in this country. We are all too familiar with this sort of breaking news; and we can't grow numb to it. I don't ever want to wake up to hear of a story like this ever again.
Anti-Semitism is sadly still a very real and dangerous ideology that plagues every corner of the globe. So I also pray that everyone, no matter their political persuasion, will put aside their differences and help combat this and try to turn the tide.
Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of the 13,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas:
I strongly condemn Saturday's attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Our Founding Fathers built our country on the most precious of all freedoms, the freedom to worship God free of persecution, without compulsion and in safety. Attacks on any faith are wrong and reprehensible. It's time to remember, as I pointed out in my book, Twilight's Last Gleaming, that true tolerance doesn't require surrendering your own beliefs or deeming them unimportant or negotiable. Instead, true tolerance is respecting the right of others to be wrong.
I know that Christians everywhere will join me in praying for the victims of this tragedy, in expressing our solidarity with the Jewish people, and deploring anti-Semitism in any form.
Rabbi Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, dean and founder and associate dean and director of Global Social Action of the leading Jewish Human Rights NGO:
We are sickened by this horrific attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh's historic Jewish neighborhood. Our thoughts and prayers are with families of the dead and injured as well as the rest of the congregation and Jewish community.
Rabbi Tuly Weisz, director of Israel365 and editor of The Israel Bible:
There is a long, bloody history of Jews being murdered in our houses of worship. What is new is that this is happening in America in 2018. It is jarring, horrible and should be a wake-up call that terror needs to be obliterated everywhere.
People all over the world must stand together against religiously motivated terrorism.
As an Orthodox rabbi who has dedicated his life to building bridges between Jews and our Christian friends, I call on lovers of Israel everywhere to stand in unity and pray for these families whose loved ones were killed, and to fulfill the words of the prophet Isaiah, "Comfort, oh comfort My people, says your God."
Dr. Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Cross Church and president of the National Day of Prayer:
Please join me in praying for the victims and the families of all affected by today's terrible shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, including the three police officers who were injured trying to stop this attack. This was an act of pure and outright hatred, and it should be condemned by all of us. Anti-Semitism should have no place in America.
Debra Minotti, Operation Exodus USA president:
It's a sad and heart-wrenching time for our Jewish friends and for the world. A horrific, ant-Semitic and evil attack was perpetrated upon a peaceful group of gathered worshippers.
We need to be alert to this event. Anti-Semitism is rising. We must pursue the Lord for His leading this day, and for the days to come. What would He have us be, and what would He have us do in the day we live in. OEUSA has a representative covering Pittsburg, Judy Peterson. That team is now praying.
Let's take this moment and first pray and seek the Lord's will and heart. Next, look for a way to reach out to your local Jewish community and extend to them your love and support. Do this with no agenda but love, God will show you the way. Lastly, we serve a faithful God who is watching over His Word. Let us walk in the confidence of the knowledge of this truth.
Hug your family this day!
Dr. Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church:
Before the finger-pointing begins and this tragedy gets lost in politics, please stop and consider this: Eleven people will not return to their families tonight. Many others will bear on their bodies and in their minds the wounds of this day for the rest of their lives. Whether we are near or far from this tragedy, we should all pray a prayer for them.
We also must call this violent act for what it is: Anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is one of the oldest, most despicable forms of racism in the world. It has paved the way for a myriad forms of hatred and prejudice. We must all condemn it and commit to root it out of our country.
Dr. David Jeremiah, Pastor, Bible teacher, New York Times best-selling author and nationally syndicated TV and radio host:
What a devastating day it has been for the Jewish community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Yet it's also a devastating day for all Americans and people of all faiths. No one should ever have to endure such horrific violence in a house of worship in a nation where the free exercise of religion is a fundamental and basic human right. I'm praying for the families of these victims right now, and I pray that God gives them comfort and a peace that surpasses all understanding.
Brigitte Gabriel, New York Times best-selling author:
The civilized world must band together in solidarity to ensure that people of all faiths can live in peace and harmony and that Jews are never persecuted and victimized by barbaric, murderous ideologies ever again," she said. "To allow anti-Semitism to continue to exist unchecked in the 21st century destroys a piece of everyone's humanity. There is simply no room for such hatred in the world.
The sooner we realize that allowing the stain of anti-Semitism to persist will only result in violence eventually against everyone, the better.
Jason Yates, CEO of My Faith Votes:
The murder of 11 Jews [Saturday] isn't just an attack on the Jewish community, but an assault on all Americans. This act of pure evil struck at America's foundational value of religious liberty. No person should ever face persecution or violence for their faith. Our hearts and prayers are with the families of the victims, and we are praying for the recovery of the six individuals who were wounded. People of faith— every faith—share in mourning with the Tree of Life Congregation.
This story will be updated throughout the day. Please check back for more information.
Jessilyn Justice @jessilynjustice is the director of online news for Charisma.
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