This article was first published in the State of the Faith Newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox every Monday evening.
Faith leaders committed to fighting gun violence say the recently passed bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a step in the right direction. But they also think the country still has a long way to go.
“Don’t think this is the end of the game,” the Reverend Michael McBride, executive director of faith-based organization LIVE FREE, said in a July 20 press call.
Going forward, legislators and other community leaders need to improve many aspects of violence prevention efforts, including their duration. Too often, officials abandon promising programs before activists have a chance to show their worth, said the Reverend Ciera Bates-Chamberlain, executive director of LIVE FREE Illinois.
“We can’t give it two years and say we’re going to throw it out the window,” she said.
Another persistent problem is getting public funds to the right place. In many cases, grassroots organizations in neighborhoods struggling with gun violence are left to fend for themselves with very little government support, said Reverend Rhonda Thomas, executive director of Faith Florida, at the event. Press.
“The fact that a bipartisan bill has been created and that funding is included in that bill seems like a plus, but we are often disappointed because the funding does not reach the grassroots organizations that do this work while time,” she said.
In addition to earmarking more money for violence prevention, the bipartisan gun law, which was signed by President Joe Biden in late June, expands access to mental health services and creates a new process more extensive background checks for adults 21 years of age or older. young people looking to buy a gun.
Many of the faith leaders who participated in the recent press call were able to attend the White House celebration honoring the new policy. But other speakers described being turned away from the party, likely because they only got involved in gun violence prevention after being convicted of a crime and serving time in prison.
“The impartial way in which we were dismissed was just insulting,” said the Reverend Joseph Paul, chief executive of the Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership, noting that he was detained for 45 minutes at the entrance to the House rally. Blanche before being sent back.
Situations like those described by the Reverend Paul show that there is still no seat at the table for everyone affected by the gun violence debate, Reverend McBride said, adding that if you close the door to some stakeholders, you miss opportunities to find the best possible solutions.
Leaders at “all levels of government can give us the impression that our highest highs must be accompanied by the lowest of lows,” he said.
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Term of the week: Sofer
A sofer is an expert in the maintenance and restoration of Torah scrolls, the sacred texts used by Jewish congregations. These scribes travel the country and the world to consult with leaders of the Jewish community to decide how best to repair scrolls that have fallen into disrepair and protect those that are not.
Last week, Rabbi Moshe Druin, a Miami-based sofer, traveled to Utah to work on the Torah scrolls at Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake City. My colleague Trent Toone visited him to find out more about his work.
“It’s a very specialized art, mastering this Hebrew calligraphy on parchment. We use pen and ink the same way it has for thousands of years,” Rabbi Druin told Deseret News.
What I read…
A group of archaeologists from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation are currently working to unearth the graves of members of one of the first black churches in the United States. The graves had been covered by a parking lot before community members pushed for excavation in hopes of better understanding and honoring the past, my friend, Daniel Silliman, reports for Christianity Today.
At first glance, Sock Religious, a company that sells socks with images of Catholic leaders and saints, looks like a joke. You might think that Catholics only buy the socks as gag gifts or stocking stuffers. But when you actually ask customers how they feel, surprisingly poignant stories emerge, according to America magazine. “A lot of women will wear them while giving birth. … It’s just beautiful to have a tangible, physical reminder that the saints are always with us,” said one of the company’s executives.
The Opinion Section of The New York Times did something special last week: it published eight essays by established columnists on the topic “I was wrong.” Writers revisited issues they had addressed in the past and expressed regret or described changes of heart. For example, Gail Collins wrote that she wished she hadn’t written so much about Senator Mitt Romney’s dog.
I recently fell in love with reading again after several months of wishing I could read more (and never making the time for it.) Here’s a great column from Alissa Wilkinson of Vox on how to re-establish a reading habit by following a few easy steps.
Your wellness reading of the week: This couple have been married for 79 years after meeting in church at 19. Here are their secrets to a successful relationship.