The Maine Council of Churches and leaders from a wide range of religious traditions realize that gun violence not only damages lives, but also the relational and spiritual well-being of our communities. When our communities hurt because of gun violence, we are compelled to heal the hurt and seek transformation.

Benjamin Rogers, 6, right, and Logan Rogers, 8, center, stand alongside their mother Bryanna Rogers, left, all of Lisbon, as they bow their heads during a moment of prayer at a vigil in Lisbon on Oct. 28. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

On whatever day they worship, from Feb. 16 to 18, we ask all Maine faith communities to pray for and honor those lost to gun violence, the survivors of gun violence and their loved ones.

For 50 years, the Episcopal Church has advocated for legislation seeking to reduce the risk of gun violence in the United States. Unfortunately, decades later, we see increase in gun violence, especially among communities of color, in domestic disputes, violence against women and suicides, and in mass shootings in nightclubs, churches and schools. According to a Pew Research report released this month, gun deaths among America’s children increased by 50% between 2019 and 2021. Last year marked the deadliest year in American schools since 1999.

This national tragedy came home to Maine on Oct. 25, 2023. Nineteen Mainers died, 13 others were injured, all of us were left shattered and grieving. In case we thought this was only a problem elsewhere, we know now that it’s ours, too. Our voices of protest must now be accompanied by measurable action.

We believe that God has provided us with the elements to be agents of change in the world. The change needs to be comprehensive: We need to address the idolatry of guns, the violence that permeates our culture, and our obsession with personal rights over public responsibility. In a Gospel narrative, we read about Jesus overturning the tables of money changers in the temple. He did this because the money changers preyed on the most vulnerable. As citizens in a society who values caring for the most vulnerable among us, we can work together to overturn the injustices of gun violence:

• The presence of more guns makes us less safe. The best means of deterring gun violence is to ensure that there are fewer and less lethal guns.


• Universal background checks are a necessary foundation for any policy that keeps firearms out of the hands of people convicted of domestic abuse and others who are ineligible.

• Assault-style weapons do not belong on the streets of our communities.

• A brief cooling-off period between the purchase and possession of a firearm can save lives and preserve Maine’s strong tradition of responsible gun ownership.

• Finally, extreme risk protection order laws are a critical tool for saving lives when someone is in a temporary moment of crisis.

Most religious Americans support commonsense policies aimed at gun violence prevention. For example, one study found that 84% of Buddhists, Catholics, evangelical and mainline Protestants, Hindus, Jews, Mormons and Muslims want background checks for all gun sales.

So, we call upon all faith communities in Maine to join us Feb. 16-18 for Gun Safety Awareness Sabbath. An excellent resource for Christian liturgical resources can be found at Bishops United Against Gun Violence; for Jewish resources, visit the Rabbinical Assembly.

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