JACKSON, Miss.—This week, Mississippi House and Senate negotiators are facing major decisions that could have lasting effects on Jackson, Miss., and its relationship with the state government. We write to express our strong opposition to any legislation that will partition Jackson along racial and economic lines, or strip Jacksonians of constitutional rights other Mississippians hold. Given the lack of transparency to date, we believe it is imperative that conference committee deliberations be held in full view of the public.
As representatives of different faith traditions, we are no strangers to division and disagreement. Despite our varied theological positions, our shared ethical convictions call us to stand united as Mississippians who believe working together across religious, racial, partisan and geographic divides makes all of us stronger.
We lament how contentious debates during this legislative session about Jackson’s future illustrated these divides and an unwillingness to reason together in good faith. White Republican legislators from other parts of the state have advanced harmful bills related to Jackson without support from the mostly Black and Democratic Jackson/Hinds County delegation, and whatever good-faith efforts made to amend these bills, suspicion and mistrust have clouded them.
No matter what happens in the final days of this legislative session, the breach between the state and its capital city has widened, to the detriment of all Mississippians.
Because Mississippi’s future prosperity depends on the success of Jackson, we encourage state leaders to put aside racial, class and partisan bias, seek solutions emerging from all Jacksonians—especially the most vulnerable citizens—while putting your respective faith traditions and moral principles into action.
To that end, we believe the conference-committee proceedings must be transparent and public, and conferees must honor these principles:
- Jacksonians should not be deprived of democratic rights afforded to citizens of other municipalities, including the election of local judges and prosecutors.
- State government should not divide Jackson along racial or socioeconomic boundaries.
- All law-enforcement agencies must be accountable to local authorities and the community.
- State government should invest in Jackson without dismantling its civic assets.
We will gather with other faith leaders in the Capitol rotunda at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 24, 2023, to pray for our leaders to honor these principles.
Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz D.D., Catholic Diocese of Jackson
Bishop Brian R. Seage, Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi
Bishop Stafford Wicker, 8th Episcopal Diocese, African Methodist Episcopal Church
President Dr. Reginald M. Buckley, General Missionary Baptist State, Convention of Mississippi
Bishop Glake Hill, Jr., Presiding Prelate, South Central Diocese, Church of Christ (Holiness) USA
Bishop Sharma D. Lewis, Mississippi Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
Bishop Daniel Littleton, Prelate of the Mississippi Southern First Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction
Church Of God In Christ
Bishop Ronnie Crudup Sr., Mid-South Diocese, Fellowship of International Churches
Rev. Dr. Nadine Burton, Executive Regional Minister, Great River Region of the Christian Church
Dr. CJ Rhodes, Third Vice President, General Missionary Baptist State Convention of Mississippi
Timothy F. Bourne, Pastor, Beulah Grove Church, State Overseer of the MS Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship
Emad Al Turk, Co-founder/Chairman Emeritus, International Museum of Muslim Cultures
Imam Dr. Ameen Abdur Rashied, Resident Imam, Masjid Muhammad of Jackson
Okolo Rashid, Executive Director/CEO and Co-founder, International Museum of Muslim Cultures, Jackson Residents for a Beloved Community
Rabbi Debra Kassoff, Hebrew Union Congregation, Greenville
Pastor Hosea J. Hines, Christ Tabernacle Church, Jackson National Leader, A New Day Coalition Equity for Black America
Rev. Joel L. Alvis, Jr., Ph.D., Interim Pastor, Fondren Presbyterian Church, Jackson
Rev. Msgr. Elvin Sunds, Faith in Action Team, Catholic Diocese of Jackson
Rev. Maxine Bolden, Chaplain, Tougaloo College, United Methodist Elder
Rev. Horace McMillion, Moderator, Gulf States Mennonite Conference
This MFP Voices essay does not necessarily represent the views of the Mississippi Journalism and Education Group, the Mississippi Free Press, its staff or board members. To submit an opinion for the MFP Voices section, send up to 1,200 words and sources fact-checking the included information to [email protected] We welcome a wide variety of viewpoints.