Dozens of National Religious Leaders Come Together to Demand Washington Take Action to Prevent Gun Violence
Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence Calls for Background Checks for All Gun Sales and Removing Military-Style Assault Weapons From Our Streets
Just over a month since the tragic mass shooting in Newtown, national religious leaders sent a letter today to President Obama and Congress, calling for urgent action to respond to the gun violence crisis in our country. The letter, signed by 47 national religious leaders representing over 80 million Americans includes an enormous breadth of faith traditions including United Methodists, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, Sojourners, the Islamic Society of North America, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and dozens more. The letter is available on: www.faithsagainstgunviolence.org.
Many of the faith leaders who signed onto the letter participated in a news conference at the United Methodist Building in Washington, DC to announce their letter to Congress and President Obama.
"Faiths United To Prevent Gun Violence brings together over forty prominent national faith denominations and organizations committed to doing all we can to reduce gun violence,” said James Winkler, Chair of Faiths United To Prevent Gun Violence and the General Secretary of the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church. Highlighting the faith community’s strong support for concrete policy changes to reduce gun violence, he continued, “We will make sure Congress knows that America's faith community wants them to take action now on reasonable measures such as banning assault weapons and universal background checks which will save lives.”
Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, Director of Public Witness for the Presbyterian Church USA, highlighted the urgency of the faith leaders’ involvement. "We are living in a society in which gun violence is making everyone vulnerable to premature death,” he said. “With over thirty thousand gun deaths a year in the United States, it is time that faith leaders and others call elected officials to committed action so that gun laws are stiffened and lives are saved.”
Dr. Sayyid Syeed, National Director for Interfaith and Community Alliances of the Islamic Society of North America, underscored the recent change in public and political will on gun violence prevention. He said, "The faith community, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Sikhs and others, has long championed saving lives from gun violence. Since the tragedy in Newtown, the entire nation has risen up to join us and we will succeed."
Sister Carol Keehan D.C., President and CEO of the Catholic Health Association of the USA, emphasized, “As Catholics, we believe there is a moral imperative to build and maintain safe communities. Part of that means making substantive efforts to address and prevent gun violence, including common-sense measures like banning assault weapons and requiring universal background checks.”
“We in the Jewish Community join our fellow faith leaders in making reducing gun violence a top priority,” said Rachel Laser, Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. She stressed the importance of truly comprehensive action. “As part of this effort, we are asking faith communities across the country to join with us in contacting Members of Congress on February 4th to demand comprehensive gun violence prevention measures including banning assault weapons, universal background checks, financial support for mental health services, and policies that address our country's culture of violence such as school safety and anti-bullying legislation.”
Vincent DeMarco, National Coordinator of Faiths United To Prevent Gun Violence, concluded by noting that faith leaders and lay people nationwide will continue to push forward until real policy change happens. “The almost fifty national faith leaders who signed this letter represent faith groups with tens of millions of members across the country. They know that responsible measures to reduce gun violence like banning assault weapons and universal background checks save lives and they will do all they can to get them enacted.”
About Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence
On Martin Luther King Day, January 17, 2011, 24 national faith groups announced the formation of “Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence,” a diverse coalition of denominations and faith-based organizations united by the call of our faiths to confront America’s gun violence epidemic and to rally support for policies that reduce death and injury from gunfire. Two years later, we have grown to over 40 groups representing tens of millions of Americans in faith communities across the nation – and our call to confront this epidemic has grown ever more urgent and imperative.
Learn more at: www.faithsagainstgunviolence.org .