Where Does My Faith Community Stand?
United Church of Christ
From: United Church of Christ http://www.ucc.org/gun-violence
Members of the faith community have long advocated for sensible, responsible policies to end gun violence. In 1995, The UCC 20th General Synod passed a resolution entitled “Violence in Our Society and World,” in which it recognized the complicated and interwoven layers at the root of violence.
That same General Synod also passed a resolution entitled “Guns and Violence,” inviting UCC members and congregations to advocate for legislation to strengthen licensing and registration of gun sales, strengthen regulations of gun dealers and ban semiautomatic assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips.
The faith community has come together many times in the aftermath of gun tragedies to urge lawmakers to pass laws that prevent gun violence. Tested by our grief, resolute in our faith we remain committed to continuing this drumbeat.
From: The Religious Action Center of Reformed Judaism http://www.rac.org/gun-violence-prevention-jewish-values
Jewish Values and Gun Violence Prevention
Jewish tradition emphasizes the sanctity and primary value of human life. The Bible commands us, “Thou shalt not murder” (Exodus 20:13). The Talmud teaches us that “he who takes one life it is as though he has destroyed the universe and he who saves one life it is as though he has saved the universe” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5). In an increasingly impersonal and alienating society, the dehumanizing of the human being and the carelessness with which human life is taken stand in direct violation of these affirmations of our tradition.
Scripture encourages peaceful pursuit of our mutual welfare. Isaiah exhorts the people of the earth “beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks.” (Isaiah 2:4) We are commanded to turn weapons of destruction into tools for the greater good of society. The following text from the Bereshit Rabbah (21:13) further idealizes the land free of weapons, “The Rabbis, commenting on the words: ‘He placed at the East of the Garden of Eden the Cherubim and the flaming sword’ say: ‘At the East of the Garden of Eden at the very spot where stood the Cherubim with the flaming sword – there was Gehenna created.’
The Reform Movement and Gun Violence Prevention
The URJ has long recognized the need for legislation “that would limit and control the sale and use of firearms” and has called on the United States government to “eliminate the manufacture, importation, advertising, sale, transfer and possession of handguns except for limited instances.” (URJ 1975). Over the years, the URJ has spoken out on gun violence prevention with particular passion, insisting that gun regulation is “a vital necessity.”
The Reform Movement makes gun violence prevention a top priority. In 1999, URJ President Rabbi Eric Yoffie made it the primary social action topic of his Biennial sermon and called for a nationwide campaign to end gun violence. The Biennial passed a resolution urging congregations to initiate projects and speak out publicly on the issue that we continue to abide by in our legislative advocacy.
The North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) has also taken an active stance with gun violence prevention and passed a strongly worded resolution calling for stricter gun laws.
The Unitarian Universalist Association
From: The Unitarian Universalist Association http://www.uua.org/liberty/guns
Take Action to Prevent Gun Violence
By our silence, by our willingness to compromise principle… by our readiness to allow arms to be purchased at will and fired at whim, by allowing our movie and television screens to teach our children that the hero is one who masters the art of shooting and the technique of killing, by allowing all these developments, we have created an atmosphere in which violence and hatred have become popular pastimes.
—Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, that killed 20 children and 8 adults, our hearts are broken. Although we are especially affected by the fact that so many of these victims were young children, we are mindful that this incident was but the latest in a long string of tragic and deadly incidents of gun violence. More recently, fifty people died in a nightclub patronized by Orlando, Florida’s LGBTQ community after a person opened fire with two assault weapons.
- Read Rev. Peter Morales’ statement on the Orlando mass shooting
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) has assembled a page of resources, Orlando, Boston, Newtown: Responding to Trauma, to help all of us process the Newtown shooting and its aftermath, emotionally and spiritually.
The purpose of this page is to help all of us understand how we can reduce the likelihood, or at least the frequency, of such tragic events by understanding the factors that lead to gun violence, what changes in public policy might mitigate or reduce gun violence, and how we and other people and communities of faith might advocate for such changes. UUA Witness Ministries will update it as additional resources become available.