Violence in Our Society and World

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WHEREAS the American Missionary Association, the Commission for Racial Justice, the Coordinating Center for Women in Church and Society, the Office for Church in Society, and the Twentieth General Synod of the United Church of Christ seek to have the whole church begin to address the pandemic of violence in our society;

WHEREAS our Christian convictions call us to be peacemakers in a world in need of peace;

WHEREAS violence is assaulting all persons through physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and through the media;

WHEREAS homicide is the leading cause of death for African-American youths 15 to 24 years old and every 4 hours an African American child is killed by a gun;

WHEREAS nearly 50,000 children were killed by guns in the United States between 1979 and 1991, almost equaling the number of Americans killed in Vietnam, and the number of children killed in gun-related incidents is the equivalent of a classroom full of students every two days;

WHEREAS domestic violence occurs every 15 seconds in this country and is the leading cause of death for women; with 30 percent of women murdered in the United States being the victims of husbands, boyfriends or former partners;

WHEREAS children and the elderly, the most vulnerable in our society, are not safe in their homes or communities and are afraid for their lives;

WHEREAS the incidence of rape continues to increase, leaving no girl or woman free from threat either at home or in public places;

WHEREAS violence pervades all our lives, from suburbs to inner cities, in rural areas of the country, in streets, homes, schools and even churches;

WHEREAS the United States is the leading weapons dealer in the world, supplying 70 percent of the international weapons market;

WHEREAS all persons deserve a place to live where they know love an can live without fear;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Twentieth General Synod publicly and actively appose violence as a societal norm;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Twentieth General Synod calls upon the Commission for Racial Justice, the Coordinating Center for Women in Church and Society, the Office for Church in Society, the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, and the United Church Board for World Ministries, in collaboration with the Conferences:

to facilitate nationwide hearings on violence in the next biennium, inviting local church members and members of the larger community to testify about the impact of violence in their lives and to share strategies they have used to respond to violence in their communities, and to report to the Twenty-First General Synod on the results of these hearings and proposed strategies;

to facilitate opportunities for United Church of Christ members to participate in local, regional and national gatherings to form partnerships and offer training and assistance in setting up programs to end violence;

to pursue legislation in the United States Congress, State Legislatures and the United Nations that will help diminish the acceptance of violence in any form and restrict the availability of instruments of violence using every means possible to advise our leaders and the leaders of the world that the violence must stop;

to work with members of local congregations to provide education in peaceful alternatives for conflict resolution and explore alternative forms of nonviolent entertainment; and

to help local congregations to educate and heighten personal awareness of personal and family attitudes, forms of discipline and language of violence such as jokes or threats;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Twentieth General Synod:

Calls on all local churches, Conferences and Associations to become involved in ending the violence in our society and endorses the national project of United Black Christians “Churches as a Safe Space:”

Calls upon United Church of Christ members to advocate for public policy programs which address the root causes of violence and poverty, and

Encourage each local congregation to organize its own peace action team to develop resources for alternative entertainment activities and family violence awareness and prevention curriculum;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Twentieth General Synod encourages all members of the body of the United Church of Christ to register their opposition to all forms of violence by calling or writing television stations, media producers, and companies involved. Furthermore, when such action fails to receive results, to boycott specific products made or sold by advertisers of programming that sensationalizes acts of violence and/or portrays violence as the only solution; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Twentieth General Synod supports the President of the United Church of Christ in speaking out boldly and prophetically on this issue across the country.

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