An invitation to action to combat gun violence

The first anniversary of the attack on Mother Emanuel AME Church (Charleston, South Carolina, USA).  The massacre at the Pulse Nightclub (Orlando, Florida, USA). NewtownSan BernardinoVirginia TechFort Hood.  It’s not just about the list of mass shootings being too long. There should be no list.  The Global Justice Institute and Metropolitan Community Churches are inviting of people of faith, peace, and goodwill to rise up, raise their voices, and work to end gun violence.  We believe in a world where everyone should be free from gun violence.  We resolve to work toward building that world.
That the Pulse Nightclub attack happened within days of the first anniversary of the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charlestown reminds us of the common link bigotry plays in gun violence.  One attack targeted the LGBT and immigrant communities and the other targeted African-Americans in their place of worship. Through our prayers and worship services, we remember the dead and honor their sacrifices, and call out the common thread of hate in all these acts.  MCC stands at the intersection of so many targeted and marginalized groups, providing a space for safety and healing.  Joy MCC (Orlando, Florida, USA) along with several other MCC congregations have hosted or participated in interfaith prayer services and gatherings that focused on the shootings at Pulse and on ending gun violence.  We hope that your community of faith will join in the effort to prevent the proliferation of guns and end gun violence.
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Our goal is to build faith communities that actively oppose gun violence through our Sunday worship, our prayer life, and our special programs.  Here are some suggestions on how you can start:
  • Visit Faiths United Against Gun Violence to find a wealth of resources for worship service including litanies, music, sermon topics, and prayers.
  • Sign up to participate in/endorse the National Vigil for Gun Violence Victims and National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend (14-18 December 2016).
  • See the liturgies that Sunshine Cathedral MCC (HERE) and Christ the Liberator MCC (HERE) used in special worship services to ground their response to gun violence, especially in the aftermath of the shooting in Orlando.
  • See the liturgy used at All God’s Children MCC to honor and memorialize the Emmanuel 9 (HERE).
  • Find additional resources (HERE) on gun violence prevention at the North Carolina Council of Churches.
Activism Through Advocacy
Tell your lawmakers to support sensible gun control legislation!  We can build faith communities that actively oppose gun violence by petitioning government at all levels to outlaw assault weapons and to appropriately regulate sales, possession, and use of guns and other rifles.  We can express our faith in our actions.  May our actions lead to an end to the sale and distribution of assault rifles, stronger regulation of gun manufacturing and purchases, an end to the violent use of firearms, and the building of safer communities.
We encourage you to take actions at these levels of government.
  • Federal:  Write your members of Congress and tell them to support legislation that helps prevent gun violence!  The Brady Campaign has a useful tool that will queue your email message to your congressional delegation and local media.  While supporters of gun control lacked sufficient votes to advance the issue, the work remains and we must not relent.  Contact your delegation and ask for their support for common sense gun laws.
  • State:  States United to Prevent Gun Violence offers a clearinghouse of state-based anti-gun advocacy organizations whom you may contact for campaign and partnership opportunities to advocate for common sense gun laws at the state level.  You can also reach out directly to the state representatives who represent your church and your members. The Brady Campaign has a score card of how your state rates in terms of the strength of its gun control and gun violence prevention laws. Use that a discussion point with your State Representatives and State Senators.  Here are other talking points to use.
  • Local:  Contact your City Council or County Board of Commissioners and call for implementing a gun turn-in or buy-back program.  These allow gun owners to responsibly get rid of their weapons. Local law enforcement takes the weapons and destroys them.  A 2015 program in Greensboro, North Carolina had over 1,000 people participate.  Ask your local officials to adopt “amnesty days” in which people can turn in illegally owned firearms with no questions asked and free any potential prosecution.
Activism Through the Internet
Consider building virtual and online faith communities that actively oppose gun violence by carrying our witness into cyberspace through the use of technology.  Here’s how you can make the most of your virtual presence:
  • Include anti-gun violence graphics, statements, hashtags, and blogs in your websites.  You can start social media campaigns.
  • Start, promote, and participate in online discussion groups.
  • “Like” or “follow” anti-gun violence groups like the Brady Campaign and theNational Gun Victims Action Council to stay informed about the issue.
  • Visit the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence to stay current on all their action alerts (link here somewhere).
  • Send tweets (and encourage your congregants to tweet) messages opposing gun violence.  #gunviolence #orlando #disarmhate #orlandostrong #charleston9 #enough #sandyhook have all trended in social media in the past week.
  • Visit the Council of Elders’ fasting and prayer vigil Facebook page where they invite you to offer your own prayers and comments.
Additional Anti-Violence Resources
Overturn the Blood Ban
The Orlando massacre reminded the nation that there is still a ban on blood donations by gay men.  The unwarranted ban highlights how men who have sex with men remain unable to provide real, immediate, and meaningful help to the victims of the attack.  Federal policy prohibits us from helping our own.  The Public Policy Team, the Global Justice Institute, and Metropolitan Community Churches call on all people of faith and goodwill to actively petition the U.S. government to end the blood ban.  Our lives hang in the balance.  Read our previous statement and call to action (with resources) HERE.
May Our Activism Be Our Prayer.
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