September 16, 2016
Dear Gov. Bevin,
On September 12, one day after the anniversary of 9/11, faith leaders, activists and impacted persons marched to the Capitol steps to declare a Moral Day of Action. We invited you to attend the event, and to join us in signing the Higher Ground Moral Declaration (http://www.moralrevival.org/moraldeclaration/). A small delegation went to your office to deliver a copy of the Declaration to you. You were not there. You were in D.C. speaking at the Values Voter Summit.
The moral integrity of our country is critically important, as I’m sure you realize as a man of faith and values. My concern is that the values you have recently publically stated are dangerous for this country, and out of line with our shared Christian faith. The presence of more than 75 faith leaders who gathered to present you the Higher Ground Moral Declaration affirm the need for correction your perceived understanding of faith values.
Isaiah 2:4 reads, “God will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matthew 5:9) Hebrews tells us that we are to make every effort to live in peace and be holy. (Hebrews 12:14)
Your words to the Values Voter Summit were disturbing not because “we the people” are naïve to the possibility of war. It is obviously an unfortunate part of a hurting and violent world. They were disturbing because they were needlessly hate and fear mongering and well beneath someone who is meant to lead and guide all persons in the Commonwealth. Your words were a threat to anyone who does not agree with you and your political allies. They were unbecoming of a Christian, of any elected official, and certainly of Kentucky’s Governor.
We have no way of knowing what the future holds, no matter who is elected. As Christian leaders we have a responsibility to proclaim hope, peace and Christian love to all people. Jesus read, “The spirit is upon me … to being good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (paraphrase of Isaiah 61:1 & Luke 4:18-19) He commanded his followers to continue his work of compassion, reconciliation and love. I and many faith leaders across the state hope that you will exercise such a faith as this, deriving as it does from the deepest wells of Christian teaching.
We are not interested in impeachment or apology. I am writing to invite you to prayerfully reconsider the kind of leader God is calling you to be and how it is that others will see that reflected in your public presentations. I am grateful for your support for expungement and criminal justice reform, and this shows the kind of important, compassionate, and faithful work of which I speak. Can you show the same passion for affordable and accessible healthcare for all? Can you show the same commitment to respectful civil discourse? Will you be a leader for all the people of Kentucky - particularly those Jesus called “the least of these” – the poor, the marginalized, the alien, the children, the oppressed, the hurting, and the sick? I invite you to take the time to read the Higher Ground Moral Declaration and consider committing yourself to the ways of Christ’s peace.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Rev. Dr. Peggy Hinds
Interim Executive Director
Kentucky Council of Churches