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MS Hate Crimes Law

November, 2020: The Board of Directors and Pastors of Safe Harbor Family Church UCC fully support Senate Bill 2424. Our pastors have signed their names in support of the following letter to the MS House and Senate, which was drafted by the Human Rights Campaign and will be used in the upcoming session. Please join us in supporting this bill that would update the hate crimes law in Mississippi to match federal law by including disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Here is the full letter:

"As leaders of Mississippi faith communities, we write this letter in support of including disability, gender identity, and sexual orientation in Mississippi’s hate crime law.  Too often, do theological differences inhibit constructive dialogue. In a world torn by pain and violence, now, more than ever, we must work to repair our relationships with each other. Despite our different identities, we share a desire to make our communities more just and to ensure that every person sharing the blessing of freedom is allowed to live their life without fear or prejudice. As leaders of Mississippi faith communities, we come together here to urge you to make our state a place where the promises of justice and freedom are validated. Our faiths have a collective understanding of the importance of piety to God and a mission to love our neighbors as we do ourselves.

"Statistics reveal that persons with disabilities and LGBTQ people are victims of a disproportionate amount of crime. Although our faiths have different perspectives on human sexuality, we affirm the fundamental value of divine spark that resides within each person. No person should be subjected to harm because of who they are or who they are perceived to be.

"With bipartisan support, our federal lawmakers addressed this disparity in 2009, updating the 1969 United States Federal Hate Crimes Act to include disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The first federal prosecution and sentencing under the revised Hate Crimes Act occurred here in Mississippi in 2017. The Justice Department under former Attorney General Jeff Sessions successfully tried a hate crimes charge when the victim was targeted because of gender identity.

"Amending Mississippi’s hate crimes law to match the federal law gives law enforcement and prosecutors the ability to investigate and prosecute crimes motivated by hate without having to wait on the federal government.

"Out of our love for God and all Mississippians, we add our support for this bill which will align our state with the federal standard. This legislation has Republican and Democratic sponsors and enjoys bipartisan support in both chambers. We represent diverse communities of faith.  The broad partisan and faith support for this legislation speaks to it as a matter of justice that bridges those perspectives that often stand in the way of building community and constructive dialogue.

"Every citizen has a fundamental right to feel safe in our state. We ask for you, our servant leaders, to help us embody this sacred commitment to love one another by supporting this legislation."


MS State Flag

July, 2020: The Board of Directors and Staff of Safe Harbor Family Church UCC would like to offer our thanks to the elected officials of Mississippi for their decision to retire Mississippi’s state flag. We firmly agree that a Confederate symbol of oppression and violence has no place on a state flag that is meant to represent all the people of Mississippi.

We have all heard that the flag stands for “heritage, not hate.” Unfortunately, this recalls only the heritage of defiant whites, while ignoring the deadly price inflicted on our Black brothers and sisters. Mississippi’s history is clear: the state fought a war to preserve slavery. Let us be equally clear today – slavery is evil, and should never be allowed in a civilized society.

Our state is now presented with the opportunity to pick a new flag that represents all of its citizens – one that will instill pride, hope, and unity. In November, we will all have the opportunity to vote on our new state flag. If you are an adult, and you aren’t registered to vote, please get registered! Every voice is needed.