Republican Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky advised people in Louisville on June 1 to form roaming prayer groups to combat the high level of violence in some parts of the city (video below).
According to the Courier-Journal, Bevin told residents, religious leaders and local officials during a meeting at a local school to walk a block two to three times a week, and pray with people.
"I'm going to ask you to walk that block, do it at the same time every single week," Bevin stated. "I'm going to ask you to stick with your block all year."
Bevin asked people to contact his office in order to get a block that needs to be walked and prayed.
"I'm just asking you to genuinely pray for the people on that block," Bevin added.
"We’ve seen throughout history, Biblical history and world history, the power of prayer," Bevin said, reports WEKU.
He also shared his plan during a press conference, after the meeting, at a local park, notes the Courier-Journal.
Bevin's speech at the school was met with applause, heckling and sporadic standing ovations.
Toya Johnson, a retired bus driver who called Bevin a "hyprocite" at the meeting, said later: "He doesn't care about the West End. He is an insult to Louisville… He won’t come down and walk with us."
Micheshia Norment, who recently lost her 7-year-old son, Dequante Hobbs, to a stray bullet, said Bevin's idea was a "good thought," but added, "It doesn't matter if it's practical or not. It won't bring my son back."
Rev. Clay Calloway, who is part of the West Louisville Ministers Coalition, said: "He didn’t say anything of substance. He has a responsibility to produce public policy, regulation and provide resources. We don’t need a sermon or him quoting Scripture, we know the Bible and we’re already praying."
Demetrius Gray, CEO of Reliant Exteriors, supported Bevin's idea and attends Bevin's church: "We probably could be doing more and I did feel challenged in that way. And to be honest, it’s the first time we’ve ever been asked."
Republican Metro Councilwoman Angela Leet also supported Bevin: "For a politician to step out and wear his spirituality on his sleeve I thought was a good thing, and I’m motivated on how to adopt a block and take that first step."
Democratic state Sen. Gerald Neal told WEKU that there have been faith-based groups in the city praying for decades to reduce violent crime for as long as he's been alive.
Neal said: "There are all kinds of things we need in the community [that] we’re not getting enough of," such as fresh food, employment, and housing.
"The greatest moral document that we have, at the state or federal level, is the budget," Neal added. "Good work is being done, but they need resources."