VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 12/9/13)—Dr. Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins III, executive director of American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS), is among 53 national faith leaders to endorse a letter that Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence sent to Congress today.
Urging members of Congress to support bipartisan legislation that extends background checks to private gun sales in commercial settings, the letter comes one year after the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Conn.
A Senate majority voted in April for background checks legislation sponsored by Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey. More than 185 co-sponsors are backing corresponding U.S. House legislation sponsored by Congressmen Peter King and Mike Thompson. The letter encourages House members to join their colleagues in becoming co-sponsors.
The letter notes that these proposals have gained wide public support and suggests that “in the 16 states and Washington, D.C., that already require background checks for private sales, gun trafficking is 48 percent lower, the rate at which women are killed with a gun by an intimate partner is 38 percent lower, and the gun suicide rate is 49 percent lower.” The letter further calls on Congress “to act to ensure that background checks are required to protect innocent lives nationwide.”
In addition to Wright-Riggins, other Baptist leaders who have endorsed the letter are Dr. Carroll A. Baltimore, president, Progressive National Baptist Convention; Carol Blythe, president, Alliance of Baptists; Dr. Walter L. Parrish II, executive minister, American Baptist Churches of the South; and the Rev. LeDayne McLeese Polaski, program coordinator, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America.
Other endorsers include the United Methodists, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, Sojourners, the Islamic Society of North America, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
Curtis Ramsey-Lucas, ABHMS’ managing director of Resource Development, encourages American Baptists to join this call to action. “Write your own letter to Congress, and join other people of faith in the December 13 Interfaith Call-In Day to End Gun Violence,” he says. “We also invite American Baptist congregations to participate in the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend, March 13-16, 2014, and to encourage others in your community to do the same.”
To participate in the December 13 Interfaith Call-In Day to End Gun Violence, visit faithscalling.org. To participate in the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend in March, visit marchsabbath.org.
Founded in 2011, Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence is a diverse coalition of denominations and faith-based organizations. ABHMS is a member of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence.
American Baptist Home Mission Societies—the domestic mission arm of American Baptist Churches USA—ministers as the caring heart and serving hands of Jesus Christ across the United States and Puerto Rico through a multitude of initiatives that focus on discipleship, community and justice.
American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.