December 21, 2012

Pro-Gun Control Evangelicals?

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(New York Times photo of National Cathedral Dean and Episcopal Bishop of Washington, D.C. preparing for gun control press conference.)

The National Cathedral is making gun control its new big focus and is hosting an interfaith press conference Friday morning, December 21 to showcase how religions supposedly are uniting behind gun control after the Newtown horrors. A United Methodist and Episcopal bishop will be there, plus the Islamic Society of North America, and former National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) lobbyist Richard Cizik. No surprises, and whatever happens to gun control politically, these groups will probably have negligible influence. The United Methodist Church has advocated abolition of handguns since at least 1972, with no appreciable impact on its own members, much less the nation. Recall that Methodism’s last truly successful political crusade was Prohibition, ratified in 1919.

A New York Times article on this event more interestingly quoted NAE President Leith Anderson saying NAE has no official stance on gun control but might now “take a harder look.” He cited King Herod’s slaughter of the innocents.

“Mary and Joseph fled. It’s a part of the story, and they took decisive action. This is now a part of our story,” Anderson said, referring to shooting rampages, “and we need to take decisive action.”

So will Anderson now push NAE to join liberal, old line Protestant elites in prioritizing gun control? NAE keeps sliding leftward under Anderson, so stay tuned. But as NAE follows marginalized Protestant groups in no longer representing its own constituency but instead loftily speaking to it, its own influence will continue to recede. These political pronouncements will also be accompanied by poor and strained biblical exegesis, claiming the Gospel backs a specific political remedy in sync with whatever fashionable cause du jour. Instead of learning lessons from the implosion of old line Protestantism, NAE seems increasingly determined to follow its unfortunate example.

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  • Ray Bannister

    When I was growing up in rural Tennessee , I’m quite sure every family in our church owned at least one gun, usually more, and I know our pastor (an ex-Marine) did. I don’t think anyone in the congregation was aware that UMethodists had any stance on gun control, and if they did know, they sure didn’t care. Don’t people have a right to protect their loved ones? I know it’s a cliche, but it’s still true: guns don’t kill people, people kill people. If the NAE wants to join Obama and the mainliners on the gun control bandwagon, it won’t make them any friends among liberals and may well alienate many evangelicals.

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  • J S Lang

    An “interfaith press conference.” Wow, don’t you just know liberal clergy relish those? They’ll be watching videos of themselves for days. Look at me! I’m concerned-n-compassionate!

  • http://csalafia.wordpress.com csalafia

    It’s really kind of pathetic that The IRD is smearing those faithful who believe Newtown was the “Enough is Enough” point regarding gun violence in this country as “leftist” or “liberal”. If you want to talk about “poor and strained biblical exegesis” one needs look no further than those who claim gun ownership is one of their “God given rights”.

    • Eric Lytle

      What are you referring to? I don’t see any reference in the article or the comments to gun ownership being a God-given right? Rule 1 of honest debate: Don’t put words in your opponent’s mouth.
      We do have a constitutional right to bear arms (that’s called the “Second Amendment”), the assumption being that a honest citizen has the right to defend himself – and defend others. When Adam Lanza planned his killing spree, he assumed, correctly, that he would be the only person on the school grounds with a weapon. You see how that worked out.

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