December 21, 2012

Interfaith Officials Call for Restricting Gun Ownership

Former NCC President Michael Livingston and New Evangelical Partnership President Richard Cizik call for more restrictive gun control measures during a press conference of interfaith officials on December 21 at Washington National Cathedral.

Former NCC President Michael Livingston (L) and New Evangelical Partnership President Richard Cizik (R) call for more restrictive gun control measures during a press conference of interfaith officials on December 21 at Washington National Cathedral.

A gathering of religious officials from across several religious traditions called for stricter gun control measures this morning. Speaking in the Bishop’s Garden at the Washington National Cathedral, whose dean advocated gun control in a sermon this past Sunday, the officials touted their own history of gun control advocacy and rededicated their faith groups to further restricting firearms.

The officials outlined three goals: banning semi-automatic assault weapons, banning high-capacity magazines, and better care for those suffering from mental illness. A few of the speakers also called to “confront the culture of violence,” as Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, former Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington, voiced.

While most of the speakers were from Oldline Protestant and Reform Jewish traditions (the gathering was facilitated by Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism), reporters also heard from Sikh, Muslim, Orthodox Jewish, and two Evangelical officials.

“We can’t stop every random act of violence, but we can do more,” insisted the Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition. Salguero singled out violent video games and “of course, gun control,” as two areas of special concern.

Former National Council of Churches President Michael Livingston said it was time to move past a Second “Amendment crafted for a time that bears little resemblance to our own.”

Highlighting the ecumenical council’s move to declare January 6 “gun violence prevention Sunday,” Livingston called for closing a gun show sales “loophole” and enact regular background checks of buyers there.

“Enact within 50 days of returning to work legislation that will end madness,” the former NCC official requested of the incoming U.S. Congress.

Speaking next to Livingston was past National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) government affairs official Richard Cizik, now president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good.

Explaining that he was speaking as a “new” Evangelical, Cizik described his previous employer NAE as “old” Evangelicals.

“We need a conversion,” Cizik said of Evangelical Christians, adapting his common refrain on climate change to gun policy, calling for an end to the sale of “weapons of war” and to close down a gun industry that was profiting from their sale.

Positing that the main question in the aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings was not “where was God?” but rather “where were we?” Washington Episcopal Church Bishop Maryann Budde declared that “God has no body on Earth but ours,” and that advocacy action was required.

“We commit ourselves to end violence across our land,” Budde prayed, pledging “to honor [shooting victims] memory by doing what we all know to be right.” During the prayer, the cathedral bell tower tolled 28 times, once for each death at last Friday’s shooting.

Budde was followed by a string of additional officials, each stating that those in their traditions would take action to ban guns. Bishop Peter Weaver, executive secretary of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, promised Methodists would “turn tired tears into thick action,” and “be a community of conscience.” Noting that United Methodist churches were declared “weapons-free zones,” Weaver reported that the UMC General Conference this past Spring had “almost prophetically” laid out an 11-point plan to end gun violence. Weaver concluded by calling for “social policies and personal lifestyles to end the culture of violence.”


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  • Donnie

    Pathetic. Especially when you realize that most of them are part of denominations that support abortion. In fact, most of the people calling for stricter gun control are pro-abortion.

    • Jim Eckland

      Usually Pro-Abortion, Pro-Homosexual, Against Constitutional Limitation on government, Pro-Illegal Immigration, etc. Communists in Christian Leadership Positions… “The Long March Continues”….

      • cken

        Jim, don’t forget Christian Apologetics, which is certainly the devil dressed in the finest Christian garb.

  • Jim Eckland

    Remember, as always, the police came after the massacre and this is why we must be able to protect ourselves. I’m amazed not one person here ever suggested bringing the Ten Commandments back into our schools and society in general.
    These people are nothing but “False Teachers”… Marxist Christians…. Marx was an atheist !

    Jim E.

  • J P Logan

    Always amusing how theo-liberals use words. The pompous NCC geek wants legislation “that will end madness.” Good luck with that! Any legislation to end madness probably IS madness. Naturally he’s in a rush for this, since he fears that cooler heads will prevail once the initial shock of the school shooting wears off. God takes his time, but the Devil is always in a hurry.

    This Richard Cizik, who might as well call himself sorta-evangelical wants “conversion.” Well, traditionally evangelicals use that word only to refer to metanoia, the change of the individual, i.e., being “born again.” As he slides further to the left (apparently with lubricated shoes), maybe he will forget all about the older meaning of metanoia. After all, why convert individuals, which takes time and doesn’t get much fanfare? So much better, and easier, to gather a herd of liberals together and make some somber statement to the media. Now, that’s what being a Christian is all about! If your pronouncement doesn’t get publicity, you just ain’t doing Christianity right.

    Just a warning, fellows: “My kingdom is not of this world.”

    • cken

      JP, your warning ignores “thy kingdom come on earth as in heaven”. The solution is for the world to become more enlightened spiritually and less egocentric. Christianity does not hold the sole key to spiritual enlightenment. The teachings of Jesus have precedent in teachings going back many centuries before him.

      • Georgian

        “The teachings of Jesus have precedent in teachings going back many centuries before him.”

        But Jesus is the only begotten Son of God.

      • J P Logan

        Cken, I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. This is supposedly a Christian website, I don’t think we do the Unitarian multiculti thing.

  • Roger

    These Church people need to concentrate on what evil is. I have an idea that they do not believe in Satan. Satan’s objective is to steal, kill and destroy. Guns or rope or knives are not evil; however those who misuse these items are. Also violence occurs a lot in supposedly gun free zones. Criminals know that law abiding citizens will not be able to defend against their evil intentions in such areas. The police, etc. can not defend you. Our schools need more visible protection; Morgan Freeman played the part of a school principal in N.Y where he took responsible action to protect the students from drugs & violence. This is a good example that is from a true story concerning our state of affairs today.

  • Mack

    Beyond the precious look-at-me moments, this collage of otherwise unemployable liberal arts graduates gets some basic facts wrong — there is no gun-show loophole, for instance; a vendor must run the purchase through the feds. These poseurs should address the problem of evil, which, presumably, is part of their vocation.

  • Paul Hoskins

    Mack, you made a good point. What would these pompous poseurs be doing if they weren’t clergy? Other than ministry or politics, where can you get paid to tell people how compassionate-n-concerned you are?

  • Paul Hoskins

    Oops, I left out academia.

  • cken

    Our constitution states we have certain unalienable rights. Arguably, that comports with most theology. These rights have been incrementally weakened in recent decades and unfortunately it may become necessary to fight to retain them. Biblical history illustrates God has supported the right of his believers to protect their rights and property. One who believes we should have 2nd Amendment restrictions to stop killing, should be against all killing. To be consistent this would include such things as the death penalty, abortion, euthanasia, and military war. Our spiritual leaders have gotten so comfortable with choosing which parts of the Bible they follow, they now think they can choose which type of killing they support. Evil is simply the dark side of the duality of human nature, not a mechanical device. Our spiritual leaders should not be choosing which evil is acceptable and which is not.

  • http://gravatar.com/citeachery citeachery

    Inalienable rights is from the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution.

  • Don Ellenberger

    The UMC take on firearms makes me ashamed to be a Methodist. UMC should stop trying to mix politics & religion.

    • J S Lang

      I used to work for the UMC Board of Discipleship, I could tell you stories that would curl your hair.

  • cynthia curran

    There are pro-illegal immirgation on the right, Marco Rubio and George W Bush, Bush favors massive immirgation of low skilled and skilled workers in his recent speech. There are some on the left that opposed helping illegal immirgants like the organization Fiar because of rapid population growth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/palzee Paul Zesewitz

    Seems to me we’re beating a dead horse with all this talk about gun control! Let’s face the facts: liberal Protestants have been predominantly pacifist since long before Columbine and Newtown anyhow. But they all seem forget to throw in a little common sense here. If you’re going to talk gun control, then you might as well throw in knife control, bayonet control, machete control, and switchblade control, too. People have a right to self defense, and they can choose from any of these weapons, not just a gun.

    What Jesus told Peter rings true more than ever! “Put down your sword because those who take up the sword shall die by it.” Unfortunately, people seem to have forgotten that fact. If folks had heeded Jesus’ words, we wouldn’t be having a worthless debate over gun control so let’s just forget about it, OK?

  • J S Lang

    I love that crack about UM churches being “weapons-free zones.” I guess it didn’t occur to these pompous nitwits that when that kid showed up at school with his weapon, he felt pretty sure he would be the ONLY person there with a weapon. Robert Heinliein (not an authority I would normally quote) said that “an armed society is a polite society.”

    Years ago I used to drive by a church in Park Ridge, IL, sign on the lawn said “Nuclear-Free Zone.” Yep, you guessed it – United Church of Christ, the gold standard for Poseur Politics.

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