Laser: "When 30,000 Americans are killed each year by gun violence, we recognize our moral obligation to speak out. Yesterday and over the course of the past two months, a broad array of faithful Americans joined together in calling on the Senate to pass a gun violence prevention package that will address the epidemic of violence that plagues our communities."
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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 10, 2013 - As Senators Manchin and Toomey finalized their negotiations on a compromise amendment on background checks, Americans from a remarkably diverse array of religious backgrounds again joined together on Tuesday, April 9th at faithscalling.org to sound the moral drumbeat for gun violence prevention. Together, these faithful Americans from some 75 participating religious denominations and organizations placed 10,000 calls into the Senate, where the debate and vote is imminent. Participants included 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, and Bishop T.D. Jakes, senior pastor of The Potter's House megachurch in Dallas, Texas, among many others.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, with a history of bringing together unique coalitions of religious, moral and civil leaders in the pursuit of social justice, is again leading the religious community to mobilize for action on gun violence.
"When 30,000 Americans are killed each year by gun violence, we recognize our moral obligation to speak out. Yesterday and over the course of the past two months, a broad array of faithful Americans joined together in calling on the Senate to pass a gun violence prevention package that will address the epidemic of violence that plagues our communities," said Rachel Laser, deputy director of the Religious Action Center.
While all callers were encouraged to rally behind a call for universal background checks, each denomination and organization advertised their own specific asks. Many people of faith are also championing gun trafficking laws, the enhancement of school and campus safety, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and improved mental health services.
"I trust that Congress will take appropriate measures to uphold the Constitutional rights of our citizens while also providing common sense protections for all, especially those most vulnerable to violence," said Bishop T.D. Jakes, senior pastor of the 30,000-member church, The Potter's House, of Dallas, Texas.
“We are proud of the numerous mosques across the nation that have featured sermons on the problem of gun violence," said Imam Mohamed Magid, President of the Islamic Society of North America. "The religious community is in the business of saving lives, and we call on our Senators to enact laws to end gun violence in America."
Reverend Gabriel Salguero, President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition and Senior Pastor of Lamb's Church, explained, "As evangelicals, we believe our Christian faith teaches us that we are called to honor all life. Gun violence remains an affront to life, and it is our religious calling to curb such violence. We strongly urge the Senate to pass a gun violence prevention package in the near future."
“We must strike the right balance between 2nd amendment rights and the need to protect life. We call on Congress and the Administration to enact meaningful changes -- including universal background checks and limits on high-capacity weapons -- that will keep our communities safe, healthy and strong," offered Sister Carol Keehan, D.C., President and CEO of the Catholic Health Association.
In communities and congregations from coast to coast, priests, rabbis, ministers, pastors and imams have been teaching, preaching and praying with families who have been affected by gun violence. Aside from providing vital pastoral care and community support, congregations and activists are working to improve public policies that safeguard our rights while protecting children and communities plagued by this epidemic of violence.