Arkansas Faith Letter Against Stand Your Ground

Dear Governor Hutchinson and Honorable Members of the Arkansas Legislature:

We, the undersigned, informed by our faith, write in opposition to SB24, a dangerous Stand Your Ground bill.

As people of faith, we take seriously our commitment to love God and to love our neighbors not just with our words, but with our actions. We are called to seek justice, lead with compassion, and serve with humility. As faith leaders, we have a moral obligation not just to preach and teach within our own congregations, but also to seek the welfare of the communities where we serve.

Faith leaders in Arkansas have been at the forefront of resisting gun violence. The Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas has passed a resolution urging its churches to be agents for gun safety. The Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church encouraged congregations to keep guns out of churches, after the state of Arkansas passed an “enhanced concealed carry” law. Churches have been affected by gun violence, and faith communities have hosted rallies and vigils against gun violence and promoting nonviolent conflict resolution.

Stand Your Ground is fundamentally opposed to these beliefs. It is always better to avoid taking a life if there is a clear and safe way to do so, but Stand Your Ground encourages people to resolve issues with violence. These laws are associated with increases in homicides and injuries, while disproportionately impacting communities of color. In states with Stand Your Ground, we have seen the senseless loss of life. Shootings in movie theaters because a bag of popcorn was thrown, arguments over parking spaces that turn deadly, arguments over loud music that lead to the death of a teenager. In addition to the everyday impacts, this proposal that promotes violence couldn’t come at a worse time, with violent anti-government extremism and white supremacy on the rise across our country.

The incident at the U.S. Capitol is only one example of the increasing violent rhetoric that should concern us all as Americans. In the aftermath of the election, we’ve seen the armed intimidation of election officials and the public in multiple states. The need to reject radical policies which would likely embolden extremists and vigilantes has never been more evident. Stand Your Ground is not only associated with clear increases in homicide, but too often used by those who already have violent backgrounds.

It is our hope that as elected leaders of our state, and people of faith, you will do whatever it takes to reduce the loss of life. We urge you to reject SB24 and any other attempts to enact Stand Your Ground. We look forward to working with you to promote a culture of peace and love.

Rev. Sara Milford, Vicar

All Saints’ Episcopal Church

Bentonville

Matt Bussell, Minister

First Presbyterian Church

Jonesboro

Don Morrow, Senior Minister

First Christian Church & WaterWay

Bentonville

Viola Turner

Licensed minister of the state of Arkansas

Christ the Rock Outreach church

Ashleigh Givens, Associate Pastor

Compass Church

Jonesboro

Elijah Walker, Pastor

Highland Drive Christian Church and Solomon’s Porch

Jonesboro

Rev. Maxine Allen, Senior Pastor

St. Paul Maumelle UMC

Little Rock

Rev Dr Charles Coleman

Methodist

Jonesboro

Anika Whitfield, Assistant Minister

The Church Without Walls Global Reach Ministries

Little Rock

Preston Clegg, Pastor

Second Baptist Church

Little Rock

Britt Skarda, Retired clergy

The United Methodist Church

Little Rock

Carol-Ann Blow, Deacon

San Damiano Ecumenical Catholic Church

Little Rock

Barry Block, Rabbi

Congregation B’nai Israel

Little Rock

Rev Chris Ellis

Second Baptist Downtown

Little Rock

Charlie McAdoo, Retired

United Methodist

Little Rock

Brittany Stillwell

Minister with Students and Families

Second Baptist Church

Little Rock

Suzanne Cain, Minister of Worship

Second Baptist Church

Little Rock

Jeremy Jones, Pastor

St. Paul AME Church

Jonesboro

Chestine Sims, Pastor

Union AME Church

Little Rock

Perry Jackson, Pastor

Saint Paul Missionary Baptist

Jonesboro

Peggy Cromwell, Associate Priest

Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church

Conway

Rob Leacock, Priest

Episcopal Church

Little Rock

Rev. Joyce Campbell, Senior Pastor

Greater Ward Chapel AME

Pine Bluff

Rob Leacock, Priest

Episcopal Church

Little Rock

Bishop Mitchell

AME Church

Little Rock

Sara Tariq, Board Member

Madina Institute

Little Rock

Michael Scroggins, Pastor

Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Bigelow

Rev. Barbara A. Butler, Pastor

Moody Chapel AME Church

Little Rock

Tom W Scott, Pastor

St Paul AME Church

Arkadelphia

Batesville Unity Group (Paul C. Bube, Acting Chairperson)

Reconciling United Methodists

First United Methodist Church

Batesville

Ed Wills, Reverend

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church

Little Rock

Elizabeth Henry-McKeever, Priest

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church

Little Rock

Kate Alexander, Rector

Christ Episcopal Church

Little Rock

Rev. Marie Mainard-O’Connell, Minister

Park Hill Presbyterian Church

North Little Rock

Elizabeth Henry-McKeever, Priest

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church

Little Rock

Jason Alexander, Priest

The Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas

Little Rock

Samuel Loudenslager, Reverend

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church

Little Rock

Cameron Highsmith, Chaplain (Reverend)

Presbytery of Arkansas

Little Rock

Sarah Argue, Lay Leader

Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church

Little Rock

Justin Bryant, Pastor

Allen Chapel A.M.E

Atkins

Clint Schnekloth, Pastor

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

Fayetteville

Terry M. Gosnell, Reverend

Trinity United Methodist

Fayetteville

Melissa Ehrhardt, Reverend

Peace Lutheran Church

Rogers

Toby Klein, Co-President

Temple Shalom of Northwest Arkansas

Fayetteville

Julia Kilbourne-Bailey, Junior Warden

All Saints Episcopal Church

Bentonville

David C. Freeman, Pastor

First United Methodist Church

Little Rock

Rev. Jim Parrish, Minister

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Fayetteville

Steve Evans, Reverend

Bringing Peace and Hope

Fort Smith

David Ayres, Minister

Southside Church of Christ

Rogers

Issa Abboud, President

Bentonville Islamic Center

Bentonville

Rev.Jason Tyler, Pastor

St. Joseph Catholic Church

Fayetteville

Kathleen Trotter, Lay leader

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Fayetteville

Stanley McKinnon, Rector

Grace Episcopal Church

Siloam Springs

Reverend Roy Lenington, Associate Pastor

Spirit of Peace NWA

Fayetteville

Reverend Mark Williams, Senior Pastor

Spirit of Peace NWA

Fayetteville

Rev. Pam Morgan, Rector

St. Thomas Episcopal Church

Springdale

Myers David J., Deacon

St.Andrew’s Episcopal Church

Rogers

Rev. Craig Gavin, Priest-In-Charge

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

Rogers

Evan D. Garner, Rector

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Fayetteville

Curtis Wilson, Pastor

First Baptist Church

Jonesboro

Vanessa Ryerse, Reverend

Vintage Fellowship

Fayetteville

Susan Gray, Pastor

Vaughn Presbyterian Church

Bentonville

Melanie Tubbs, Pastor

United Methodist Church

Augusta and Bald Knob

Cheryl Felder-Stuart, State Director of Christian Education

National Baptist

Lewisville

Robert Wetherington, Reverend

St Mary’s Episcopal Church

El Dorado

Chris Seawood, Executive Pastor

The Historic St James Missionary Baptist Church

Fayetteville

Curtiss Smith, Pastor

The Historic St. James Missionary Baptist Church

Fayetteville

Donna Hankins, Pastor

United Methodist Church

Little Rock

Jessica Durand, Pastor/Director

Manchester United Methodist Church, Wesley campus ministry

Arkadelphia

The Rev’d Kevin Gore, Priest-in-Charge

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

Mountain Home

David LeSieur, Pastor

St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church

Rogers

Lowell Grisham, Interim Supply Priest

St. Theodore’s Episcopal Church

Bella Vista

Rev. Guillermo Castillo, Reverend

Misionero hispano Episcopal church in Arkansas

Rogers

Kenneth Parks, Assisting Priest

At.Thomas Episcopal Church

Springdale

Suzanne Stoner, Associate Rector

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Fayetteville

Dr. Jeff Flanigan , Pastor

Carter Temple CME Church

Blytheville

Rev. Mark Snodgrass, Pastor

Bentonville Community Church of the Nazarene

Bentonville

Philip W. Butin, Co-Pastor

First United Presbyterian Church

Fayetteville

Kathleen, Reverend

Episcopal Church

Fayetteville

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