Today, December 10th, the Des Moines Register published a letter regarding gun violence signed by 165 faith leaders from across our state. As Conference Minister, I was pleased and gratified to see so many UCCer’s on the full list of signers. Together we can make a difference. We must speak to the convictions of our faith as followers of the Prince of Peace. Thank you.
Here is the link to the letter with a full list of signers: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/iowa-view/2015/12/09/165-faith-leaders-urge-changes-gun-laws/77059812/.
(Plus the entire letter with the six judicatory signatures is printed below.)
Rich Pleva, Conference Minister
As faith leaders from across Iowa, we see our nation becoming increasingly violent and unsafe for our children and our communities. Whether it is San Bernardino, Colorado Springs, Chicago, Denver, Newtown, Des Moines or Iowa City, our children are faced with the possibility, and for some children the inevitability, of a gun being used against them or someone they love. Our children’s sense of community and safety has shifted dramatically.
We have become a nation described by the violence we see on the nightly news. Shocking images from our streets. Law enforcement harming or killing citizens. Men abusing women. And, mass shootings perpetrated against everyday people who are carrying out the norms of life.
Mass shootings at schools, parks, theaters, stores, malls, public building, offices, houses of worship and more. Mass shootings with assault-style weapons and handguns, both legal and illegal. Mass shootings killing three, nine, 12, 26 people in split seconds. Mass shootings that now number in the hundreds in one year. Mass shootings that are now the expectation, rather than the anomaly. When did it become mundane rather than horrific to learn about another mass shooting?
Whether Christian, Jew, Muslim, Unitarian Universalist, Hindu, Buddhist, or Sikh, as faith leaders we also wonder when did we as a society decide that a person’s right to own a gun outweighs the value of another person’s right to live?
Iowans of faith and of goodwill know that, when it comes to guns and gun violence, the status quo is no longer acceptable. We have a responsibility to our communities and to our children to keep them safe with common sense laws and it is time to act.
As faith leaders, while prayer is core to our faith traditions and we will certainly spend time in that sacred act, prayer without action leads us nowhere. We believe the tide has changed and action must be taken.
We support three critical corrections to our laws that currently allow too easy of access to guns that results in unnecessary violence in our society. We call for a requirement that every gun buyer pass a criminal background check, to remove military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines off our streets, and to make gun trafficking a federal crime.
We ask that all people of faith participate in this weekend’s Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend, Dec. 10-14. Pray, recite holy text and readings and impart wisdom. But, above all, pledge to take action.
Today, we demand that our elected officials stand on the right side of history and join the solution in stopping the rampant proliferation of guns and the resulting violence facing our nation. It is our responsibility and it is the responsibility of lawmakers to take action to stem the tide of gun violence and make our society safer for our children.
Connie Ryan Terrell, executive director, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa
Rev. Dr. Mary Newbern-Williams, Presbyter, Presbytery of Missouri River Valley
The Most Rev. Richard E. Pates, Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Des Moines
Rev. Dr. Rich Pleva, Iowa Conference Minister, United Church of Christ
The Right Rev. Alan Scarfe, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
Rev. Bill Spangler-Dunning, Regional Minister, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Bishop Julius C. Trimble, Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church