Subject: NCC Weekly News: Orlando Shooting, Sentencing Reform

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From Jim: It Has Got To Stop.
Over the years, I have written too many articles and reflections, offered too many prayers, and made too many speeches and talks about the need control the gun violence problem in our nation. Now, I write in the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in US history which took place several days ago in Orlando, Florida.

49 people were killed and 53 wounded by a deranged man who had been under surveillance by the FBI, had beaten his first wife, was known for extreme views, homophobic and racist comments, and yet legally obtained an AR-15 assault rifle.

Despite this slaughter and dozens of others like it in recent years, there is almost no chance the US Congress will take any action to prevent this from taking place over and over again. The reason for that is that many members of Congress are controlled by the National Rifle Association. 

Every time a mass shooting takes place, the standard response of the NRA and its supporters is that it is inappropriate to call for gun control while we are grieving for those who have been needlessly killed. The problem with that viewpoint is that they don’t believe there is ever a time to control guns.

The answer to the horror that took place at the Pulse night club is not to ban Muslims from entering the United States. The answer is to make it impossible for ordinary citizens to own and use weapons that can kill dozens of people. It is inconceivable that the authors of the U.S. Constitution intended to protect the “right” of citizens to massacre people.
Let us not forget there is a long history of domestic terrorism in our nation ranging from the Ku Klux Klan to the Weather Underground to Timothy McVeigh, among many others. We also have a long history of blaming ‘outsiders’, ‘others’, and ‘foreigners’ including Jews, Catholics, and Communists. 

We have reached a point where you cannot feel safe anywhere—not in churches, schools, fast food establishments, night clubs, restaurants, sporting arenas, public libraries, parks, swimming pools, playgrounds, movie theaters, shopping malls, etc. It is only a matter of time before another mass shooting occurs. People are unnecessarily frightened for their lives and our elected officials won’t do a single thing about it. 

We are days away from commemorating the tragic murder of nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. I pray all of the millions of Christians connected to the National Council of Churches will mourn the innocent lives lost through gun violence and demand the Congress take action so this carnage comes to an end.
Yours in Christ,

Jim Winkler
President and General Secretary

In Wake of Orlando Shooting, America’s Faith Leaders Continue Push for Sentencing Reform

Faith leaders from across the country converged today on the grounds of the US Capitol to pray for victims and families of the Orlando shooting and to pray that another issue critical to our safety and security -- reform of systems that imprison 2.3 million Americans -- is accomplished through changes in federal sentencing guidelines.

The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 (S. 2123) has been sitting on the desk of Senate Majority Leader McConnell since last October after receiving wide bipartisan support. Faith leaders are meeting today with Senators and members of the House of Representatives to urge that this bill, and other reforms, move forward.

"In the face of a tragedy like we experienced this week, we people of faith come together to bear witness that the world as it is, which is broken with suffering and oppression, is not the world as it need be,” said Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism. “And so we lift up our moral voice today in outrage and in prayer."

In a time of bitter partisanship, sentencing reform has been perhaps the single issue that has received support from both Republicans and Democrats.  

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Condemns the Terrorist Attack in Orlando

NEW YORK – The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is saddened and appalled by the latest senseless mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, in which 49 people lost their lives and many more were injured.

We express our unequivocal condemnation for this terrorist attack, the worst mass shooting in American history.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims. May God give rest to the souls of those who were brutally killed and may He provide comfort and courage to their families, as well as to those injured and are now facing the difficult road to recovery.

We also fervently pray to the Lord and God of mercy and peace, to strengthen and guide all efforts to eliminate from the face of the earth the plague of terrorism and the poison of hatred and violence, and to advance reconciliation and peaceful coexistence among all people.

Video: Statement from the Senior Bishops of the AME, AMEZ and CME Denominations
Statement by the Religious Coalition for a Violence Free Rhode Island

Our nation is reeling in the wake of yet another horrific mass shooting, this time our nation's deadliest. In response to this heinous event that ended at least fifty lives, left many more wounded, and broke hearts worldwide, we, the religious leaders of Rhode Island, call on our communities to pray for healing and wholeness amidst our brokenness. Empowered by our relationship to the Divine, we endeavor to stand up and speak out against all acts of violence.

As people of faith, we voice our loving support for the people of Orlando, the LGBTQ community and our Muslim neighbors. The terror that ensued has affected us all and we will not rest until we assure that such terror will not happen again.

We are inherently concerned about the increasing violence in our society and we commit to bringing it to an end. Working in solidarity we will move our nation from darkness to light. Together we will bring our communities from despair to hope. We will not give in to fear!

In the face of such hatred and anger, we are called to elevate love. We are called to pursue justice, and we are called to bring about an enduring peace for all people in all places, regardless of faith tradition, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

A Litany for Gun Violence Prevention offered for use in Sunday services

Giver of Life and Love, you created all people as one family and called us to live together in harmony and peace. Surround us with your love as we face the challenges and tragedies of gun violence.

For our dear ones, for our neighbors, for strangers and aliens, and those known to you alone, Loving God,

Make us instruments of your peace.

God of Righteousness, you have given our leaders, especially Barack, our President, the members of Congress, the judges of our courts and members of our legislatures, power and responsibility to protect us and to uphold our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

For all who bear such responsibility, for all who struggle to discern what is right in the face of powerful political forces, Loving God,

Make us instruments of your peace.

PC(USA) leaders mourn victims of Orlando nightclub tragedy, recommit to advocating for a just society

We join our heavy hearts with the great multitude of those who mourn the killing and maiming of so many of our brothers and sisters at the Pulse club in Orlando, Florida.

As people of the Reformed tradition, we are not naïve about the reality of evil in the world in which we live, or the capacity within us all to choose evil over good. Nor can we doubt the profound capacity to accomplish such evil deeds in a society overrun with weapons designed to kill. Even so, it is shocking when that evil is manifest in such a horrendous way.

We applaud the courage of those touched by these killings, who even in their grief, have joined together to declare their intention to stand firm against all the forces in the nation and the world who wish them harm. We pledge our support to them and promise to work with them, as we seek to quell all the forces in our society that divide us.

It would be naïve to ignore the implications of this brutal attack for the LGBTQ community as a whole. Likewise, we would be remiss if we did not also acknowledge the fact that the attack in Orlando primarily impacted people of color, particularly the Latinx community. This provides a painful reminder that experiences of oppression are shaped by multiple social identities and lived experiences.

This Week's Podcast: Subscribe TODAY!

The NCC is bringing the best, most interesting and relevant voices from the faith community to your mobile device. Every week NCC communications director Rev. Steven D. Martin interviews faith leaders, activists, and people from across the NCC's 38 member communions and affiliated organizations.

This week's guest: Lucia McBath, whose son Jordan Davis was shot and killed by in Jacksonville, FL. His murderer, Michael Dunn, said the shooting had been justified because he had felt threatened by Davis and his three friends. Lucia will speak with us about Orlando, gun violence, and what the faith community can do to end gun violence.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast in the iTunes Store and Stitcher Radio. If you like what you're hearing, please write a review. By doing this you will help us reach the widest possible audience!

Ecumenical Opportunities:

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) seeks a full-time Communications and Program Associate to work in its Washington, DC office. The individual will split their time between NRCAT, a 501(c)3, and the NRCAT Action Fund, a 501(c)4. Through NRCAT, the individual will also provide assistance to the New Evangelical for the Common Good. This is a new position and the position will be evaluated after one year. We seek someone who can work independently and as part of a team. The individual will provide critical communications, program and administrative support across NRCAT's program areas.

The Children’s Environmental Health Network is seeking nominations for its 2016 Nsedu Obot Witherspoon (NOW) Youth Leadership Award!

The NOW Youth Leadership Award was created as part of the Children’s Environmental Health Network’s (CEHN) 20th anniversary celebration in 2012, in honor of Executive Director Nsedu Obot Witherspoon. This award honors a young person (ages 12-21 at the time of the nomination) who has demonstrated exceptional environmental health leadership--efforts to protect human health, especially of our most vulnerable populations, through actions including: raising awareness of, advocacy for, and outreach around safer, healthier environments across places.

We encourage submissions of nominees who are young leaders that are involved and committed to environmental health, participate in community action, and have strong leadership skills. Submissions must come from non-family members. This award will be presented at CEHN’s 11th Annual Child Health Advocate Award Event in Washington, DC on October 13th, 2016. The winner must be able to travel to DC and attend the event to accept their award. Submit your nomination here by 4pm EST, July 15th, 2016!

The Episcopal Church is accepting applications for the position of Director of Government Relations, a member of the Presiding Bishop’s staff. Based in Washington, DC, the Director of Government Relations is a full-time position responsible for representing the public policy positions adopted by the Episcopal Church’s General Convention and Executive Council, and the ministry of the Presiding Bishop, to policy makers in Washington, including the White House, the Congress, the Washington, D.C. diplomatic community, the Episcopal institutions and networks, visiting Anglican and Episcopal leaders, the ecumenical community, and public interest organizations so that the Church has a direct presence and ability to advocate its positions to those who make or are concerned about governmental policy. Deadline for applying is June 20.

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