Faith-based Coalition Commemorates Gun Violence Anniversaries, Recommits to Raising the Moral Voice to Prevent Future Tragedies
Faiths United Coalition Spearheads Faith-based Call to End Gun Violence, Re-launches Strategic Partnership with Center for American Progress
Washington, D.C. - As affected communities and gun violence prevention advocates prepare to gather to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL (June 12) and the two-year anniversary of the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC (June 17), Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence announces its restructure and strategic partnership with the Center for American Progress to offer state and federal policy expertise and amplify the critical voices of people of faith in gun violence prevention work. A faith-based gun violence prevention coalition formed in 2011, Faiths United includes more than 50 endorsing organizations representing diverse faith traditions who have banded together to stand against gun violence.
Two years ago, nine people were killed and three were injured when Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was violently interrupted by a white supremacist in a racially motivated attack. One year later, 49 people were killed and 53 were injured in the largest mass shooting in U.S. history when a gunman opened fire at Latin Night at Pulse nightclub, an LGBTQ safe-haven.
These shootings indelibly wounded their local communities and affected the soul of a nation. Faiths United mourns the lives lost and changed - and demands action to prevent further loss.
That these anniversaries fall within the span of a week calls attention to the proliferation of gun violence and the horrifying regularity of gun deaths in our nation. This moment reiterates the importance of elevating the moral call to action on gun violence and guns in America. We must see with clear eyes the culture we have allowed to flourish-a culture of violence, fear, and death.
In the current political moment, Faiths United and the moral voice are needed more than ever to speak the truth about gun violence. The shooters at Pulse Nightclub and at Mother Emanuel AME sought out spaces of safety-indeed, of sanctuary-for the LGBTQ and African-American communities. Gun deaths in this country reflect the disproportionate rates of violence against women, sexual and gender minorities, religious minorities, and racial and ethnic minorities. Gun violence cannot be separated from vitriolic rhetoric and policies targeting vulnerable communities. Gun violence prevention efforts must similarly be mounted in solidarity with these communities.
As people of faith, our role is not merely to lament killing, but to stop it, and to change the culture around it. As Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, we commit to witnessing, educating, and advocating for our shared values and common sense solutions to gun violence.
Members of Faiths United Weigh In on Moral Demand to Act to End Gun Violence:
"The compelling anniversaries of the massacres at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and Emanuel AME Church in Charleston should motivate the American faith community to seek an end to gun carnage in our country. Faiths United works to mobilize that critical constituency to action to save lives from gun violence. Prayer is not enough." Rev Woody Dalton, Chair of Heeding God's Call to End Gun Violence
"In the historic shadows of the assassination of Bro Medgar Evers, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Minister Malcolm X, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and the upcoming anniversaries of the massacre of the Charleston Emanuel 9 and the 49 who were slaughtered at the Pulse Club, we are reminded of the destruction and demonic havoc that gun violence in America is reeking on our entire nation. The poor, young, and minorities are at the forefront as victims of this destructive violence. Gun control is mandatory if we are going to decrease the violence and increase safety for all. The A.M.E. Church, in light of this destructive history, joins with other faith traditions in calling for a strong gun control bill that will make our streets safe again." Bishop Frank M. Reid, III, Chair Social Action Commission
"Our faith demands that we refuse ever to adjust ourselves to the reality of violence in our streets, in our homes, or in our communities. God's Image, inherent in every human being, is being ravaged by the effects of our numbed acceptance and the inaction of elected leaders. In the name of our fallen sisters and brothers, we will pray and we will march and we will mobilize to combat the scourge of American Gun Violence." Rabbi Menachem Creditor, Founder, Rabbis Against Gun Violence
"As United Church of Christ members and congregations, we are called to resist the acceptance of violence as a norm and our idolatrous relationship to guns as a violation of our fundamental Christian beliefs. In a culture where death and violence have become commonplace, and despair is the order of the day, we are called to work with God's life-giving Spirit to restore hope to communities impacted by the gun violence epidemic. With that vision, we are committed to advocating for responsible policies and practices to prevent gun violence." United Church of Christ
"Franciscan Action Network (FAN) stands in prayerful and active solidarity with those who lost loved ones to gun violence in the Pulse Orlando and Charleston AME Church shootings, and all the thousands of shootings in the US since June 2016. As followers of Francis of Assisi, who forbade his followers to bear arms, we see gun violence prevention as integral to FAN's mission of peacemaking." Franciscan Action Network
"The Dominican Sisters of Peace, charged with our Congregational commitment to preach truth with hope in God's promise for our future, are committed to creating environments of peace by promoting non-violence and sensible gun safety to protect the life and dignity of all peoples." Dominican Sisters of Peace
"The Jewish tradition calls on us to love life, to choose life and to preserve it at all costs. We do not place stumbling blocks before the blind nor do we stand idly by the sufferings of our neighbors. How can we not work to end the scourge of gun violence that kills 33,000 Americans each year? This time of year, when we recall the memories of those lost due to gun violence, we must rededicate ourselves to ending this plague and ensuring that all people can live free from the fear that gun violence poses." Rabbi Elyse Wechterman, Executive Director, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
"The anniversaries of shootings at the Pulse Nightclub and the Mother Emanuel, AME Church demand that we stand before God answering who are we and what we have become in the world. How can we be immobilized by such unthinking gun use? It is incomprehensible, violent, and now, sadly, descriptively American. We seem to tolerate those who would try to reconfigure the world by vigilante violence. Dark and hateful thoughts can be turned into loathsome acts when, again, we postpone intervening with substantive laws which restrict the acquisition of firearms. So, ours is not an observance only; it must be a declaration. Restrict gun sales, certainly, but more importantly, bravely address how our society colludes with the distressed among us to fatally bully the vulnerable in our midst." Episcopal Peace Fellowship
"During this week of remembrance, we mourn the lives lost, and countless others changed, in the shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and Pulse Nightclub. The United Methodist Church stands against gun violence and the rampant cultures of fear and hate that led to these attacks. As we continue on our journey to transform the world - girded by the call to 'turn swords into plowshares, and spears into pruning hooks' - may all people of faith and good will join us in the vital work to end gun violence." Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church