Faithful Americans Push Congress on Gun Violence Prevention

Feb 04, 2013, 11:29 ET from Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Millions Engage in Moral Campaign on February 4 to Prevent Gun Violence

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Americans from a remarkably diverse array of religious backgrounds will join together on Monday, February 4 at to call on Congress to act to prevent gun violence. Religious leaders and interfaith groups are mobilizing their flocks and empowering faithful Americans across the country to continue the moral drumbeat for passing sensible gun violence prevention laws. Participants include the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Council of Churches representing 37 Christian denominations, the Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist Jewish movements, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, PICO National Network, the Islamic Society of North America, Bishop T.D. Jakes, senior pastor of The Potter's House, and many others.

The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, with a history of bringing together unique coalitions of religious, moral and civic leaders in the pursuit of social justice, is again leading the religious community to mobilize for action on gun violence.

"On this issue of dire importance to the safety of all of our children and communities, the broadest array yet of faithful Americans is joining together in one chorus to call on Congress to pass sensible solutions to the epidemic of gun violence that has long plagued our country," said Rachel Laser, deputy director of the Religious Action Center.

Although all callers are compelled by the urgency of acting to prevent further senseless gun-related deaths, each reflects the diversity of viewpoints among Americans and will be highlighting the priorities of special concern to them, including universal background checks, bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, criminalization of gun trafficking, and improved access to and availability of mental health services.

"As people of faith, and as responsible citizens, we have a moral obligation to press our elected leaders to take concrete steps toward the prevention of gun violence," remarked Rev. Kathryn Lohre, Director, Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Lohre is also President of the National Council of Churches. "We may not fully agree on what those steps are, but we can certainly agree that the task ahead is nothing short of transforming the culture of violence in which we live for the sake of all of God's children."

"We all have to be watchmen on the wall and answer the question of the Scriptures: 'Am I my brother's keeper?' We all are mutually responsible for ensuring the well-being of our society and the safety of our children. We call on Congress to take common sense measures for the sake of our children," said Bishop T.D. Jakes, senior pastor of The Potter's House, a 30,000-member congregation.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Coalition, added, "Hispanic evangelicals stand committed to joining other communities of faith in advancing an agenda that protects our children, communities and future. For at the end of the day, we understand that silence is not an option. Quenching the spirit of violence advances not the agenda of the donkey or the elephant but more importantly, it advances the agenda of the lamb."

"As evangelicals, we believe our Christian faith teaches us that we are called to honor all life," noted Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President of the National Evangelical Latino Coalition and pastor at Lamb's Church in New York City. "Gun violence remains one of the most powerful challenges to a holistic life agenda in our nation."

Imam Mohamed Magid, Islamic Society of North America, announced, "We call on the thousands of mosques nationwide to have sermons on the issue of gun violence, asking their congregations to call on their representatives in Congress to bring about a solution to end gun violence in America. As religious communities, we are in the business of saving lives."

Sister Simone Campbell of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby, asserted that her faith tradition is clear on the issue: "We are called to honor all life. Gun violence remains one of the most powerful anti-life realities in our nation. We call on all people to responsibly support life by limiting gun violence."

"We know the cost, in lives and dollars, that could be prevented by a wiser gun policy and a better mental health safety net, continued Sister Carol Keehan, DC, President and CEO of the Catholic Health Association. "I believe there is a balance between responsible gun ownership and the broad availability of weapons that can only cause tremendous violence. We can find that balance." 

In communities and congregations nationwide, priests, ministers, pastors, imams and rabbis have been teaching, preaching and praying with families who have been affected by the epidemic of violence that plagues us.

Members of Congress will hear the calls of faithful Americans and others committed to preventing gun violence that they work across partisan lines to quickly and effectively pass legislation to save lives and prevent future tragedies.

Participants in the Call-in Day include (in formation, most current version on site):
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
AME Zion Church
American Baptist Home Mission Societies
Bend the Arc
Catholic Health Association
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Center for American Progress Faith & Progressive Policy Initiative
Church of the Brethren
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Empowerment Temple AME Church, Baltimore
Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Heeding God's Call
Hindu American Foundation
The Interfaith Alliance
Jewish Council on Public Affairs
Jewish Women International
Latin American Working Group
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Mennonite Central Committee
Mexican American Catholic College
National Council of Churches
National Council of Jewish Women
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (Rev. Sam Rodriguez)
National Latino Evangelical Coalition
NETWORK, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Orthodox Union (Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America)
PICO National Network
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Progressive National Baptist Convention
Rabbinical Assembly
Reconstructionist Rabbinic Assembly
Sisters of Mercy of America
Sikh Council on Religion and Education
U.S. Episcopal Church
The Islamic Society of North America
The Potter's Church
Tzedek Georgia
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association
United Church of Christ
United Methodist General Board of Church and Society
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Washington National Cathedral
Women of Reform Judaism

SOURCE Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism