December 16th, 2012
06:50 PM ET

National Cathedral dean: Let's 'mobilize the faith community for gun control'

By Stacey Samuel

Washington (CNN) - On the first Sunday after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the Rev. Gary Hall of the Washington National Cathedral called on religious communities to take a stance against gun violence.

"The Christian community, indeed, the entire American faith community, can no longer tolerate this persisting and escalating gun violence against our people. Enough is enough," said Hall, who is the dean of the cathedral.

After 20 schoolchildren and six adults were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, the national debate over gun control has resumed with a fervor.

On Friday, President Barack Obama said "we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."

From the pulpit, Hall delivered the liturgy with a strong message to his faithful to call for action by their legislators to institute stricter laws banning access to semi-automatic rifles, such as the one police said the gunman used in Friday's massacre.

"The best way in my thinking to mourn the Sandy Hook shooting is to mobilize the faith community for gun control," said Hall, to which the congregation clapped wildly.

Not since the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act and the assault weapons ban in the early 1990s, which was allowed to lapse, have significant reforms been passed. Measures to implement background checks on those purchasing guns have been widely criticized for loopholes that have allowed many gun dealers to avoid administering them.

Hall said political leaders have been "in terror of the gun lobby," but now they need to know that faith communities such as his are willing to stand behind efforts to push for gun control.

"I believe the gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby" said Hall.

- CNN's Laura Koran

Filed under: Crime • Faith

soundoff (126 Responses)
  1. lionlylamb

    Our God knows of all our pains,
    Our God loves yet He refrains.
    My God is your God too,
    Your God is my God ever so true.
    Their God is our God one and the same,
    God cares for all creatures even the lame.

    December 16, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • This is your brain on religion!

      Any questions?

      December 16, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  2. KentM

    Not giving up on God, my church or my guns.

    December 16, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • chuckie

      Then it will be done for you.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Extra Medium

      May you meet your god by way of your gun in your church 😉

      December 16, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Okey Dokey

      What a freakish mix god and guns are. Everything about guns is a total denial of what Jesus wanted people to be.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • TC

      Which god? Certainly not a christian one.

      If your need to have guns, even though it contributes to the demented gun culture of this supposed christain country, is more important than the lives of the 9000 Americans murdered byu guns this year, you aren't any follower of Jesus.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  3. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    So, what does the Second Amendment mean to you?

    Here’s what it means to me.

    The right to arms has roots that date back at least to the English Bill of Rights, enacted with Royal consent by William and Mary after the Glorious Revolution in 1689 (1688 Julian). These rights applied equally to Englishmen in North America.

    Bill of Rights, 1688
    Standing Army.
    That the raising or keeping a standing Army within the Kingdome in time of Peace unlesse it be with Consent of Parlyament is against Law.
    Subjects’ Arms.
    That the Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defence suitable to their Conditions and as allowed by Law.

    They are an unalloyed product of the wars of the reformation, whose primary purpose was the defense of a religious state.

    A scant 87 years later a secular echo of this religious ‘right to arms’ appears in the Virginia Declaration of Rights, authored by George Mason and James Madison in May of 1776, albeit with the significant removal of the word ‘Protestant’. Thomas Jefferson plagiarized not only the preamble to the Declaration of Independence from the Virginia Declaration of Rights, but also the second amendment.

    Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776
    XIII That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and be governed by, the civil power.

    The focus here is unambiguously on a militia to defend the free people of a new free state – instead of a standing army. Arms for self-protection from criminals is an irrelevant concept here.

    Thirteen years later President Jefferson went back to plagiarizing the Virginia Declaration of Rights for the Bill of Rights, editing it for brevity, and moving another big issue around standing armies (that of quartering) to the third amendment.

    The Bill of Rights, 1789
    Amendment II. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    In context with his source, the clear emphasis is on the first phrase – a militia to defend the free people of a new free state.

    So what changed?

    Twenty three years after the Bill of Rights, in 1812, President Madison went to war with Britain in a war of territorial expansionism. It failed. More specifically, the militia failed. Almost every time US militia forces squared off against British regulars they were soundly beaten. After the war, John C. Calhoun reorganized the War Department and the intended meaning behind the second amendment started to change. Over time, the emphasis shifted to the second phrase: “… the right to bear Arms shall not be infringed.”

    To be continued in Part 2.

    December 16, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      So, what does the Second Amendment mean to you? (Part 2)

      What about the notion that the second amendment was intended to encourage citizens to revolt against a government that has gone off the rails (despite that this is clearly not what the amendment says)?

      People like to quote from Thomas Jefferson, 1787:

      The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it's natural manure.

      I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.

      Feel free to look up the tree of liberty quote but in context Jefferson is complaining about non-specific deficiencies in the Constitution and made observations about the revolution including: ”I say nothing of it's motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness.” and goes on to say ”Our Convention has been too much impressed by the insurrection of Massachusets: and in the spur of the moment they are setting up a kite to keep the hen yard in order..”

      Jefferson’s thinking is replete with the concept of personal liberty trumping personal safety. One can only imagine his response to the G.W. Bush ‘Patriot’ Act! In the ‘little rebellion’ quote, Jefferson also says:

      “Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.”
      “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”

      While doubtless Jefferson’s words still resonate with many Americans, the actual history of the United States repeatedly squashes Jeffersonian ideals of liberty.

      Not too long after these letters, and by the end of 1794, George Washington militarily put down an armed rebellion by moonshiners in western Pennsylvania (the Whiskey Rebellion).

      More dramatically, there is a time where states tried to exercise what they interpreted as, amongst other rights, implied second amendment rights to rebel against the United States. Depending where we live we call this either ‘The Civil War’ or more quaintly, ‘The War between the States’. This insurrection was put down with brutal military force, forever squashing the notion that the second amendment exists for citizens to keep the government in check by a hypothetical armed force majeure.

      Anytime citizens in the United States rise against the Government, they are put down. The notion of the second amendment securing the ‘right to rebel’ is a chimera. It is entirely specious.

      While I personally believe contemporary interpretations are a perversion of what was intended by the second amendment, I don’t expect it to be repealed anytime soon. Frankly the opinions of people who think the second amendment needs revision or repeal are moot. The only opinions that really matter here are the pro-gun people – they hold the cards in this discussion.

      What do they think can be done about gun violence?

      December 16, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  4. there is no other truth but truth absolute, and truth absolute is LORD AND GOD OF THE WORLD.

    Humans, let's mobilize the FBI/HSD community for sicide vest control

    December 16, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
  5. mama k

    There is just no justification whatsoever for anyone in this country to own or possess legally or otherwise any kind of automatic weapon. If you think the Constitution grants you that right with no limitation, then we may as well all be walking around with rocket launchers strapped to us "for our own protection". This gun situation is completely out of control.

    December 16, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      SCOTUS said there could be reasonable regulation, but there's no will in Congress to bite the hand that feeds.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Marky Plimpton, Condiment Application Technician To The Stars!

      I hate to tell you this, but the Second Amendment was actually written to allow any and all arms (not just firearms) that anyone wanted to have. If you had a cannon, fine. If you had a ship full of cannons, fine. That was what the Founding Fathers conceived of. So the Second Amendment means people have the uninfringable right to nuclear weapons, shoulder-launched antiaircraft missiles, the whole range.

      Because the Founding Fathers never imagined that superweapons would be developed, like WMDs and the like. And they never imagined that the rare occasion where Ichabod shoots his family and himself would turn into 20 dead children in a kindergarten due to the killing capacity of weapons they never imagined.

      This is why the Supreme Court always always always deals with Second Amendment questions in the most limited, oblique ways possible. They know what is written there allows EVERYTHING, and that's a really bad idea. They want to allow as much rights as possible, but they have to infringe the uninfringable or airliners start going down and body counts get crazy. And the government will not address it either because it is too hot an issue.

      Essentially speaking, the Constitution has been pretty badly bastardized. Freedom of speech and assembly have been pushed into "free speech zones" well away from where they are effective. Probable Cause has been tossed aside at drunk driver checkpoints and airline security point. The ninth amendment has been totally ignored (especially by the strict constitutionalists, whose very position is denied by that amendment). The powers of the Federal Government are vastly larger than the 10th Amendment allows. And so on.

      The Constitution is in need of a big healthy debate and a rewrite, but we are not a generation capable of healthy debate, and especially not of a fair and equal rewrite uf the Constitution.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  6. mama k

    Yes, although Washington National Cathedral holds multi-denominational services and events, as I understand it, he is the 10th dean of the church, the official seat of the Episcopal Church in the United States. I would imagine he would have trouble getting many to rally to his call. But I have already heard some non-Southern Baptists who are in fact ready to rally around his call.

    December 16, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • mama k

      Sorry – this was a reply to "I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV" which was a reply to Kenneth G. at 6:58pm 12/16.

      December 16, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  7. EX catholic

    Just make sure it is not like in the England of old of James II. Guns ONLY for the Catholics!! That's why that is in the Const. So that neither they nor anybody else can Impose their Idolatry or Ideologies one way or the other. Catholics are very, very Idolatrous and want to Impose their Idolatrous Religion by hook or crook. Just ask Paul Ryan. Ryan wanted to be Vice-Pres. so he could go as such and kiss the Pope's ring many times over.

    If the Government could take away ALL of the guns from the criminals, which it CANNOT DO then the right could be questioned. The Right of the People Should and Ought to Remain even, if guns could be Controlled and Restricted. The Abuse and Misuse of the Right by Criminals Should Not and Is Not a good Argument against the Rights of the Citizens who abide by the Law and who are NOT criminals. Put the blame where the blame ought to be, on the criminal.

    The Catholic Doctrine, of the Just should pay the same as or for sinner who brake the Law is not Just. Neither is Godly, Biblical or Fair. Be on guard about this Idolater's idea. He is not being Clear and Precise enough about what is it he is asking for or proposing.

    December 16, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @EX Catholic,

      Rather than this: Guns ONLY for the Catholics!!:

      I presume you mean "Guns ONLY for the Protestants" since that is what was specified in the English Bill of Rights (1688) and was law in the colonies.

      December 16, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      James converted to Catholicism.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      fair point. I did not read carefully enough there.

      The Stuarts were all Catholic or at the very least least accused of harboring Catholic sentiments. Hence the civil war, the Commonwealth, and the glorious revolution.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      English history, particularly after the introduction of Protestantism, is very interesting. I both love and hate Cromwell in equal measure.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      I quite agree that it is interesting. Not only that I believe that an understanding of 17th century English history is essential in understanding what is "America".

      It is the real founding history of what would become the United States.

      In many ways Britain moved on from the 17th century and the United States despite an amazing start with the revolution, did not.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Inst.itutionally though, England has remained the exact same. House of Commons, House of Lords, the monarchy, the Church of England. They're all still at the forefront of British politics and remain virtually identical in operation to their predecessors.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      Nonsense. The monarchy is a figurehead. They have zero real political power. The Queen opens Parliament and reads a speech written by the PM. Even the hereditary Lords are gone.

      Technically there is zero separation of church and state (The t!tular head of state is the head of the established church) yet Britain is far less obsessed with religion that the United States – and it's not like there is a monolithic belief system there.

      They don't have nearly as much of the religious nonsense interfering with the legal system that we do.

      As soon as Napoleon was defeated they got over their formal issues with Catholics (1828)* and made slavery illegal in the empire (1833). The last vestiges of Elizabeth I's Act of Uniformity (1558) – which was more political than religious in nature have finally been expunged as well.

      * With the Roman Catholic Relief Act (overturning the Test Act – 1673)

      December 16, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  8. Apple Bush

    The prez is giving the NRA and the GOP a lashing right now.

    December 16, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  9. chuckie

    Simple solution. You can have all the weapons you want. But it will be illegal to have ammunition. Solves the problem and keeps the Second Amendment in place. Genius.

    December 16, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      True. The second amendment says nothing about ammunition.

      December 17, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  10. cannonball200

    I am continually astounded this horrible tragedy is being exploited for political gain. The first response from so many individuals rings very insincere when it is intertwined with a self-serving desire to push their political agenda forward on the shoulders of the poor children and adults killed in this senseless attack. Instead of focusing on the possible causes and the underlying issues of mental illness and societal factors that might have contributed to the tragedy, many seem to take the simple and easy (and sensationalist) way out. It is not acceptable to simply point fingers at inanimate objects (in this case guns) and ignore the more difficult and challenging issues (mental ilness and social / socital influences) that this awful event affords us the opportunity to address in the straightforward and unflinching manner that is so desparately needed. Why did this happen and what can we do to prevent a recurrence in the future should be the focus – not playing the sensationalist card of pointing at only the methods (guns) used to cary out the attacks.Would anyone find this tragedy any less horrific if the method was some other implement? Absolutely not. So let's all focus our energies where we have the opportunity to turn a horror into something better for society in the long term and not short-sighted political posturing.

    December 16, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      You should leave. People who make that much sense in a single, enlightened comment aren't welcome here.

      December 16, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • chuckie

      You mindless, stinking gutter filth. YOU are the problem. If you were in front of me I'd spit in your face. Enjoy your time in hell.

      December 16, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Do you realize that Hell was invented to get children to eat more fruit and vegetables?

      December 16, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  11. Apple Bush

    I just watched a tribute to the victims during the pre-game of the Pats vs 49ers game. It culminated with Tom Brady blowing a big booger out of his nostril. Great TV. Arg.

    December 16, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
  12. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    ""I believe the gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby" said Hall."

    Sadly, with a minority of exceptions, the gun lobby IS the cross lobby.

    December 16, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      You don't have to be religious to want to keep the king of England out of your face.

      December 16, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      What is the contemporary relevance of the King of England, and there isn't one by the way.

      The fundies in the Massachusetts Bay colony (who belonged to the same religion as the mob that executed King Charles I because of his Catholic sympathies) never wanted a King from the get go. Their fervour had nothing to do with taxes and representation.

      December 16, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  13. Akira

    Why do we need assault weapons exactly, in a non-military situation?
    I am not trying to be disingenuous, because I do understand the 2nd amendment, but why assault weapons, which by their very design, are meant to inflict the maximum amount of death in the minimum of time...
    I'm just not getting necessity of assault weapons for basic protection, or recreational hunting.
    Help a girl out here?

    December 16, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      When the king of England kicks my door in demanding obeisance, I'll be glad of my M16.

      December 16, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Akira, I don't like saying it, but the United States is a very violent society. People live in fear. Weapons proliferate like the cold war. The bad guys take advantage of our horrible gun laws. Rednecks and Christians have so much influence and they encourage violence mostly because they are racists, a self-defeatist position. In my opinion.

      December 16, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    It is GREAT seeing the bishops and the NRA are now aiming at each other instead of at children 😉

    December 16, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  15. Mohammad A Dar

    for tough gun control laws, I am right behind you Rev. Gary Hall!!

    December 16, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  16. Rational Libertarian

    Religion and gun control, my two least favorite things.

    December 16, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  17. there is no other truth but truth absolute, and truth absolute is LORD AND GOD OF THE WORLD.

    Means to defend is a right ordainment by truth absolute GOD for every human, enshrined in consti tution of USA, opposed by self appointed cardinal, brother of hindu Lucifer, criminal self centered, secular pretending to be GOD,

    December 16, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      can you just say in plain English, are you for or against gun control, goon?

      December 16, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • there is no other truth but truth absolute, and truth absolute is LORD AND GOD OF THE WORLD.

      I did not realize you were so hindu, brain less, use your own ID, hindu, idiot.

      December 16, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      F U bot, I am taking beating from people because I am using your skunk name, go smell your Hind, goon

      December 16, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • there is no other truth but truth absolute, and truth absolute is LORD AND GOD OF THE WORLD.

      You love it, don't you hindu, skunk.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      No I took a challenge to make you a better and gentler person, at least on the CNN forum, goon

      December 16, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      Turn off your random word generator!

      December 17, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  18. Sam Yaza

    as long as governments have guns so will I

    December 16, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Agreed 100%.

      December 16, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • mama k

      You are both part of the problem, and not the solution.

      December 16, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      You can suck my balls. And if part of the solution is to be a hippy, liberal d.ouchebag, I'm glad I'm part of the problem.

      December 16, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Dang RL, are you drunk?

      December 16, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I rarely drink. Sobriety is far too precious a commodity.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • mama k

      OK, RL – why don't you explain to me the need to be able to legally possess an automatic weapon as a citizen. Why limit it there? Why not a rocket launcher? The constitution just says "arms", right?

      December 16, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I can't put it more succinctly than to keep the king of England out of your face.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • Damocles

      We have the right to bear arms to protect us from tyranny. Yes, those that choose to be gun owners have a responsibility to do it in as safe a manner as possible, take the proper classes, keep them locked up or safe when not in use etc etc. You are not going to stop every incidence of gun violence, you are not going to keep guns out of criminal hands by disallowing citizens to have them. A person who wants to do violence is going to find a way and will, more often than not, find a way around just about any safeguard in effect.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Damocles


      Well said.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian


      December 16, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Ad Absurdum

      As long as the government has weaponized anthrax, so will I.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Timothy McVeigh

      as long as governments have explosives, so will I

      December 16, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Kim Jong-un

      That's why I'm getting me some of that nuclear weaponry.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • mama k

      Hmm. Interesting. I wonder how much the mother of this young man that killed these children was concerned about tyranny. But why not allow people to legally register rocket launchers and keep them in their homes? That would be more helpful in certain situations to help them avoid "tyranny". Do you see how ridiculous your arguments are. I'm still waiting for a *reasonable* explanation as to the need for automatic weapons among citizens.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Damocles


      What's a reasonable explanation to you? Say we totally ban assault weapons, ok, now what? The next time it happens it will be with a bolt-action rifle. Oops, there go bolt-action rifles. After that it'll be done with multiple handguns.... there they go. Next up, black powder weapons. Poof in every sense of the word. Blades up next, there goes my unique collection of cutlery. Pretty soon you won't be able to drive because too many cars will be used as missles. You will be escorted around 24/7 by an approved gov't chaperone and forced to wear a helmet all in the name of protecting the citizens. Meanwhile the criminals are laughing their damn fool heads off because, hey, they can still get their guns.

      December 16, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      As long as governments have M1 Abrams tanks, I want one, too!

      December 17, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      Rational Libertarian "I can't put it more succinctly than to keep the king of England out of your face."

      Umm ... the last King of England died in 1952. I think you could probably beat the Queen up with your bare hands.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  19. Apple Bush

    Sorry Rev. Hall. The dollar is king in Washington.

    December 16, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  20. Kenneth G.

    I guess he didn't get the "God and Guns" memo. He'll be tarred-and-feathered and run out of Jesustown of a rail.

    December 16, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Rev. Gary Hall of the Washington National Cathedral, is Episcopalian correct?

      Aren't the Episcopalians the ones supportive of ordaining women and gay priests? While I applaud Rev. Hall, just how many Southern Baptists will rally to his call?

      December 16, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @mama k,

      replying to:
      Yes, although Washington National Cathedral holds multi-denominational services and events, as I understand it, he is the 10th dean of the church, the official seat of the Episcopal Church in the United States. I would imagine he would have trouble getting many to rally to his call. But I have already heard some non-Southern Baptists who are in fact ready to rally around his call.

      Rev. Hall is an Episcopal minister. I was being rhetorical and a bit sarcastic.

      I don't think many of the fundie preachers will sign up to his call.

      December 16, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.