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February 26, 2013
Jesus said to Peter, those who live by the sword will die by the sword. [i]
May we, who are followers of Jesus, never become accustomed to violence.
The U.S. has experienced several widely publicized outbreaks of violence that have shaken, devastated, and confounded the American public. Continual outbreaks of violence in Mexico threaten to crush the spirit of the people who live there. Puerto Rico suffers daily from gun related violence and death. Canada, too, has experienced publicized outbreaks of violence in recent months. This repeating brutality across the Americas has broken our hearts.
This heartbreak is added to the heartbreak of families and communities who experience death and injury every single day in less publicized events across the North American continent. When protesters are murdered by those who would devastate their lands; when innocent bystanders are killed by stray bullets as part of the “drug war;” when a returned soldier commits suicide; when jobless young people are recruited into gangs or militias and learn to practice the art of death; when countless women are terrorized or murdered by the hand they took in marriage; when moments of anger between family members end with bloodshed; when vigilantes attack those who “do not belong” in their neighborhood or country, God’s heart breaks along with ours.
Too many people in too many places are dying unnecessarily. We grieve with God in these deaths: those that did and did not make the news. Joining our voices with other concerned individuals, organizations and faith communities, we declare that enough is enough.
We call on the governments of the nations across North America[ii] to enact, practice and encourage life-affirming measures to resolve conflict and preserve the integrity of the lives of their residents. We call on elected leaders to show courage by legislating measures that will decrease gun violence as well as every other form of violence. We call on our governments to cease their participation in the profitable but deadly international arms trade. We lift our voices against the wars, declared and undeclared, that destroy both individuals and communities, and we call on our leaders to declare a ceasefire on all forms of violence.
We call on faith communities to proclaim, teach, advocate for and practice the principles of justice with peace as proclaimed in holy writings. In so doing, we as the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America will remain prayerfully committed and faithfully active in the work of realizing the realm of peace, which we believe is the vision of God for all creation, and look forward to the day when all will be called the children of God. [[iii]]
[i] Matthew 26:32
[ii] The Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (BPFNA) gathers, equips and mobilizes peacemakers from North America (Americas) specifically from Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the U.S.
[iii] Matthew 5:9