By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – With the bells of the Washington National Cathedral ringing 28 times – honoring all those killed in last week’s Connecticut shooting – a broad group of religious leaders on Friday called on their congregations, the White House and Congress to do more to combat gun violence.
“We gather as religious leaders both to commemorate the one-week marker of the tragic shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, and to call our people and the nation to action,” said the Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the Washington National Cathedral. “As clergy, we in our traditions know something about suffering, and we know something about our shared faith that love is finally stronger than anything, including hate and including death.”
The group assembled outside the cathedral, comprising religious leaders from almost all the major faith traditions in the United States, said it is fighting for three specific goals: the outlawing of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, tightening controls on the sale of all guns and improving access to mental health care.
The event featured leaders from evangelical and mainline Protestant traditions, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam and Sikhism.
On top of asking clergy to discuss gun control, the group said it would ask congregants to participate in a national call-in day to Congress on February 5.
Most of the 20 speakers echoed one another on the cold, blustery day in Washington, saying that although it is important to pray and comfort the victims, now is the time to act.
“We must now, even in our grief, call the nation to an immediate and a healthy response that moves us, all of us, beyond our epic failure to respond to the culture of violence in our country and in our world,” said the Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition.
After previous mass shootings, like the Columbine school shooting that killed 15 in 1999 and the Virginia Tech massacre that left 33 dead in 2007, leaders from many of the same religious traditions spoke in favor of tightening gun legislation. Those statements and actions, however, failed to move public sentiment, and many of their efforts stalled.
But the religious leaders said they sense a difference after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
“It gets back to that instinctive way in which we are reviled by the notion that we would be a society that massacres its own tiny children,” said Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly.
“People across the country in all of our congregations are responding to the rabbis, and they are responding from a sense of personal grief,” she said. “It is as if every one of these families lost every one of these children and adults in the school as their own.”
Hall told CNN that because so many religious leaders help run schools, they strongly identify with the tragedy of young victims.
“There is something about this shooting and the fact that it was 6- and 7-year-olds. There is something about this shooting that just feels like a critical mass has been reached,” Hall said. “I think it probably makes us identify with this shooting more powerfully than with others.”
On Sunday, in churches across the country, sermons focused on gun control.
“Everyone in this city seems to be in terror of the gun lobby. But I believe the gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby,” Hall said during his sermon, a line that elicited a standing ovation from the crowd.
This type of sermon, along with action from political leaders, leads Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the primary organizer of Friday’s event, to believe that the religious community could play a big role in this discussion.
The religious community is capable of “mobilizing people to be a political force that we have done on issues of conscience since the beginning of this country,” he said.
When asked about the biblical basis for gun control, Saperstein quoted Leviticus 19:16: “Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened.”
“Is the need for sensible gun control a religious issue?” he asked rhetorically. “Indeed, it is, for our worship of guns is a form of idolatry, the random distribution of guns is offense against God, and the only appropriate response is sustained moral outrage.”
There will never be any kind of gun control in this country.
In fact, the American answer to any problem is to have a "war" on it and have even more violence and guns.
I fully expect within the next 10 years children will be toting guns.
And why not, if the argument is that people need a gun to be safe, then why should that right be given to children?
They are people too.
More guns for everyone!!!
When in doubt, shoot it out!!!
A "War on Violence." Kind of catchy.
While I understand the sentiment, I've felt that about many things in the past which have been proved otherwise.
• Black President
• Legalized pot
• Legalization of gay marriage
If any country is capable of change in the face seemingly insurmountable odds, it's America. I don't intend that as a patriotic statement. It's just an analysis based on my observations.
I am all for banning high capicity magazines and assault weapons, so long as law enforcement on the local, state, and federal level do not have access to these types of weapons or magazines either. The authoritative force should never be allowed to drastically outclass the general populace in regards to armaments in case a mass corruption in power causes the authoritative force to be used in a way that is unjust and unsound, the general populace will have a way to defend themselves in such a situation.
Cool! So I can walk down the street with a flame thrower to protect myself frofrom the cops. An I can mount a 50 cal machine gun in the bed of my pickup truck to protect my self from the DOT closing an off ramp I want to use. And I can keep a pocket nuke in a briefcase to use on the mailman when he gets all uppity.
I think a rational approach is to ban the assault weapons and high capacity clips. The NRA response of having armed guards in every school is inadequate for an attacker using advanced weapons. The NRA solution is just to have more guns. Although that may appeal to gun huggers, many of us don't want to have to carry guns. There will probably always be someone who is thinking of committing a terrible attack on other humans but lets not make it so easy to use such advanced weapons.
The NRA is just making themselves look whackier every day.
OK first off I would like to say that this tragedy is beyond horrific...so many people in this small community will never be the same again..my heart aches for them. I have prayed for them. That being said..I am moving onto the gun issue...I honestly believe that every gun owner of these semi-automatic weapons would be more than happy to give up every one of them if this never happened again..but realistically...it will. It doesnt have to be a semi-automatic weapon...it could be a bomb or just regular handguns or any number of things. I could leave my house in my car and run it through the christmas festival tonight at 80 mph and kill multiple people..are we then going to outlaw cars?...maybe just ones that go over 65..do we really need cars that go over the natl speed limit..NO..no we dont. Or how about texting..how many people are killed every yr because of text messaging while driving..do we really need to "text" to communicate..nope..we sure don't..talking gets the job done and its hands free...so do we outlaw cellphones with all texting ability? making these guns illegal is NOT going to solve the problem and here is another explanation as to why. I have never used cocaine in my life nor do I know anyone who sells cocaine..yet I am 100% positive that I can leave my house and come back with cocaine in the same day...yet cocaine is illegal..how is this possible? If we make these guns illegal..we are just going to open up an entire business to the drug cartels...only these weapons will NOT be registered..and will not be semi-automatic..they will be fully automatic. Another thought...airplane pilots carry handguns to protect the passengers in their plane..yet teachers or administrators are not allowed to carry firearms on school premises. I am not a gambling man but I bet a few teachers at that school would have loved to have had a firearm on them that day. This is just some food for thought I am not trying to say that gun control is right or wrong..I am just saying it wont change...anything.
America – it's time to turn in ALL guns. No more guns.
I've just gotten my 260 to 0.5 MOA at 200 yards. I'm not giving up anything, Peter.
Maybe if the cops had whistles, like they do in England, psychopaths would think twice about killing? I hear crazies don't like loud noises or being told "What's all this, then?"
Blimey, guvnah! 'e got me 'gain! Arright off to the pokey, then!
While the UK does have less than 1/3 the US murder rate, you wouldn't want to diminish the arms the cops carried until you'd already done so for the criminals. That will take a restrictions and quite a few years.
If the school in CT was a gun free school zone this never would have happened.
You're a total moron, aren't you?
The guy broke many laws. A posted sign would be little more than a sun dial to him.
Of course it would have happened-criminals don't care about the law!
I'm sick of religions talking about "peace" and "human values". Phony. Leave us alone and let us do what we want.
Fuck them. Go ahead and do what you want. I'll kill you if I don't like it.
I agree with YOU! Keep made up religious sentiments about values and such out of the public square. There is no god. NO 10 commandments, etc.
In just this month in the city of Chicago there have been 10 murders. Hey – still 10 days to go, to include Christmas and New Year's Eve.
But of course most of that is black on black crime - - not as important as regular white American children
Talk to yourself much?
Not a one of them was older than 39. Oh well. That's 10 fewer welfare recipients.
Where do you people get this racial nonsense at, every life is valuable.
"every life is valuable"
Amen to that.
GOP – Puh-leez. What value. Life is meaningless. Cheap.
Deliberate race baiting.
Don't these liberal christians know that there's supposed to be a separation between church and state.
When conservative christians are such cowards that they need a CAR-15 to protect their family and can't rely on their god to protect them...
Some patriotic "Christian" has to step in and exercise their citizen responsibility by countering the un-american influence of the NRA
It is not patriotic to interfere with the american way of life. Keep religion out of the ballot box!
In fact it is and it takes an even more corageous patriot to put an end to white racists such as yourself...
KEEP YOUR SICK RELIGION OUT OF MY POLITICS
Now today we have a shooter in central Pennsylvania.
Killed three – then gunned down by police in a shoot out involving a traffic accident and injuries to three policemen including one who was struck by a bullet in his protective vest.
Guns – so necessary to defend ourselves! *
* Please note the use of sarcasm.
And in other news:
"More guns is the answer" says the NRA.
... the NRA made its position clear: The prominent gun rights organization will not budge an inch toward discussion of gun control. To the contrary, the group announced it will fund a team that will design a program to get armed security personnel on school grounds across the country.
And that will help how, exactly?? There were armed guards at Virigina Tech, there was a guard on duty 'way back at Columbine. In both cases, the presence of armed guards did exactly nothing to so much as forstall the tragedy, let alone stop it. People need to grab a brain instead of something about two feet lower and think.
I like it when religious kooks weigh in on social issues.
As opposed to non religious kooks....? A weird preference...
At least they're saying something useful this time.
Here is a little test that will help you decide. The answer can be found by posing the following question: You are walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children. Suddenly a Terrorist with a huge knife comes around the corner, locks eyes with you, screams obscenities, Raises the knife, and charges at your family... You are carrying a Kimber 1911 cal. 45 ACP, and you are an expert shot. You have mere seconds before he reaches you and your Family. What do you do?
Democrat's Answer: • Well, that's not enough information to answer the question! • What is a Kimber 1911 cal. 45 ACP? • Does the man look poor or oppressed? • Is he really a terrorist? Am I guilty of profiling? • Have I ever done anything to him that would inspire him to attack? • Could we run away? • What does my wife think? • What about the kids? • Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and knock the knife out of his hand? • What does the law say about this situation? • Does the pistol have appropriate safety built into it? • Why am I carrying a loaded gun anyway, and what kind of message does this send to society and to my children? • Is it possible he'd be happy with just killing me? • Does he definitely want to kill me, or would he be content just to wound me? • If I were to grab his knees and hold on, could my family get away while he was stabbing me? • Should I call 9-1-1? • Why is this street so deserted? • We need to raise taxes, have paint & weed day. • Can we make this a happier, healthier street that would discourage such behavior. • I need to debate this with some friends for a few days and try to come to a consensus. • This is all so confusing!
Republican's Answer: BANG!
Redneck's Answer: BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! Click..... (Sounds of reloading) BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! Click Daughter: 'Nice grouping, Daddy!' Were those the Winchester Silver Tips or Hollow Points?!'
Son: 'Can I shoot the next one?!' Wife: 'You ain't taking that to the Taxidermist!
terrorist with a knife eh?
Hmmm...just a week or so ago, a man climbed into his truck after trying to sell his handgun...in the process of placing the gun in the truck it went off and killed his young son...
A. A democrat
B. a redneck...
And the fact that many, many recent war vets are democrats and have fought for their country, would indicate that you don't need "whisperer" after your appropriate handle
What a lovely family of Republicans you have there.
Sounds like Junior may be the next Adam Lanza.
Like the name says, I talk to morons; just wanted to see who would respond.
Awwww, how cute, having a spot of fun.
Did you ejaculate all over your screen reading these 'moronic' responses?
Actually, I thought it was kind of funny, especially the redneck part.
"When asked about the biblical basis for gun control, Saperstein quoted Leviticus 19:16: “Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened.”
I don't see a Biblical reason for us not to own firearms. As far as the scripture he quoted...so if they take my gun rights away what else can i do but stand idly by while someone threatens my life, my family, or my neighbor. I really don't know these fellows beliefs but i would be willing to bet that they would be of the liberal stripe. I was really dumbfounded by the Rabbi given the Jewish peoples history?
do you know any Jews – or is your understanding of them 'informed' by John Hagee's sermons?
No...i do not personally know any, but i think history tells me all i need to know. How many Jews in Israel go unarmed? My point is that i would think given how they have been treated the Rabbi should kow better than to implore us to give up our right to protect ourselves.
Point to the exact quote that says these clergy, or indeed the president says anything about taking away all guns. Your rhetoric fails.
Obviously, krhodes...you not only don't believe your god is powerful enough to protect you and your family, you don't believe his word (Matthew 6)....
But, like most Christians, your life (in your words) clarifies that you don't live as if your god exists...
I love how Christians dismiss the old testament as no longer relevant until they need use its examples to justify their life style...that you would equate modern (or ancient) Jewish life as justification for your lack of trust in your New covenant god is laughable and provides a great deal of evidence of the inefficacy of your faith and your god...
Israelis who are on active military service are required carry their weapon (specifically an assault rifle) with them at all times – even when off duty. Those who are not on active service do not. All Israelis (with some exceptions) are required to perform military service as young adults, after which the are in the reserves and may still be called up for occasional active duty.
Jews living in the United States do not live the same lives as Israelis. Despite the dire warnings of the 24 hour Islamaphobe network we are not living in a society that requires us to have personal weapons to protect ourselves from the enemies of the state of Israel.
Doubtless there are American Rabbis who would be gun advocates. I do not expect this is the norm.
"Point to the exact quote that says these clergy, or indeed the president says anything about taking away all guns. Your rhetoric fails."
Oh please...we all know exactly what the liberal position is. I read a poll on Rasmussen the other day and a large number of people who claim to be democrats wanted a total gun ban. Obama and the liberals are no different. They absolutely want a total ban..it is just not politically safe to do so at the moment..
whatever some people might want, we won't have a complete ban on guns. A start with semi-automatic rifles and closing the selling loopholes would be nice.
If it saved people (meaning there were fewer firearm homicides) wouldn't it be worth it?
"There's a Verse for that
But, like most Christians, your life (in your words) clarifies that you don't live as if your god exists..."
I live in the same world as everyone else does so i must protect myself. Maybe president Obama being a Chriastian should give up his security. Maybe he does not believe God is powerful enough to protect him or is he just a plain old hypocrite?
I didn't dismiss the Old Testament? The logic behind using the verse does not follow?
In other words, you got nothing.
"In other words, you got nothing."
In other words...that is exactly the liberal agenda. Just look at the laws passed by democrats and ideas they have had. It is no secret and anyone who thinks they don't want to is either a liberal apologist...or just plain ignorant.
It is just SHOCKING that krhuddy is a gun-totin' zealot.
How cute. More claims without actual citations. Sorry, but the plan has been laid out, the law is being written, and no where was it mentioned to ban all guns. Keep going with your rhetoric, but unless you can actually give some citations or proposed bills from the current administration, then you still go nothing.
sorry, I was away...but, this is your answer?
The president is responsible for a nation of 300,000,000 plus Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, Agnostics, etc., etc., etc. (and apparently one or two Aliens somewhere in New Mexico)...and the government's primary purpose is security...and because of his job, the taxpayers of the US are responsible for the protection of him and his family....
So, why are you unable to provide a thought-ful response?
No, in other words KRhodes, you heard a report on foxnews about how all news organizations that aren't foxnews are terrible and decided that they were right, despite not hearing such breaking stories on anything other than foxnews. Let's just say for a second that I don't know what laws democrats have passed that have limited your freedoms, I would like to hear what they are. What is the law now that wasn't the law say 6 or 7 years ago that limits your freedoms?
Leave it to the liberal sheeple to blindly follow their leader. People detroit, dc, chicago have stifling gun control and how is their violent crime? Wake up! This has NOTHING to do with guns! But it is easier to focus on an inanimate object then try to fix the real problems behind this tragedy.
Is there any reason you fully support assault weapons for civilians?
Then please help us find the real problems. I couldn't agree more that the main problem is the awareness of mental health issues. Does that mean that you would be willing to go forth with an across the board tax increase to pay for this extra screening that is currently not happening?
Did you know that ONE gun distributor has sold over 37 million new guns in the last week due to the gun control threats from Obama. ROFL!!!
Couuuuuld you be any wronger?
yeah, I love that doomsday preppers show. It's hilarious to see these people wetting themselves over their own paranoia.
it's too bad that these clergy have forgotten they would be beheaded by the Church of England if it weren't for our founding father's belief in the right to bear arms against tyranny.
Do you deliberately ignore that no one is talking about repealing the second amendment? Did you even read the controls that are proposed by the president, which these clergy are echoing?
"these clergy have forgotten they would be beheaded by the Church of England"
please do me a favor and look into a little 17th century English (and by extension) colonial history. Generally your comments are not based in ignorance. This time your comment is, which I find highly ironic for someone who proudly professes his Catholicism.
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
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.
That the Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defence suitable to their Conditions and as allowed by Law.
The right to arms is directly connected to the King and the primacy of the Church of England – with the purpose of the extermination of Catholics and all forms of popery in the Kingdom.
They are an unalloyed product of the wars of the reformation, whose primary purpose was the defense of a religious state wedded to the divine right of Kings. This was law in England and law in the colonies. The right to bear arms was the right to shoot Catholics.
A scant 87 years later a secularized verion 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.
Are you comparing war with slaughter of innocents, Bill?
How is it you're SO horrified by abortion, but this carnage doesn't seem to faze you at all. You want to close every clinic, but god forbid we limit guns.
So please do explain how "well regulated" actually means "no regulations".
I'd say it's about time too.
1. Ban semi-automatic rifles.
2. Inst!tute a national, standard, mandatory waiting/research period for all gun sales, both commercial AND private using a national database of ineligible gun owners and with severe penalties for gun sellers who do not follow the protocol and whose guns are used in a homicide.
I wish these clerics speedy sucess in their campaign.
It will take the Southern Baptist Convention's endorsement of their movement to make an ecclesiastical call to disarm successful. Evangelical Protestants represent 25% of Americans, and no doubt a good number of gun proponents.
Did the SBC participate at this event?
Get a clue. People who have never touched a gun should not be allowed in this conversation...
what makes you think I have never touched a gun?
I have touched a gun. Several, in fact, starting with the little Stevens single shot .22 my Dad gave me when I was ten, and afterward including a few twelve gauge shotguns, a .35 Remington deer rifle, M1 & M14 while in ROTC, and M16 in the Army (one combat tour in Viet Nam included), .45 auto and .357 magnum handguns. Dad taught me to hunt and to handle guns safely (#1 thing he taught me). I quit hunting when I realized how many idiots there are out there who should never be allowed to get their hands on a gun but who are allowed to buy one anyway and then proceed to shoot up the woods in search of something to kill. Ever hear of "sound shooting?" That's shooting at a sound in hopes that it is an animal.
Uncle Benny – agree. I do have several guns in my house, and I have to qualify for work (law enforcement). But I've seen the kind of hunters you're talking about. I quit going camping in the fall when I saw too many fools going into the woods with nothing but guns and beer.
Civilians don't need assault rifles or high-capacity magazines. Period.
Now there's a building that needs to be torn down and replaced with something useful.
One doesn't need to worship with to appreciate the beauty of the buildíñg.
It is quite a piece of architecture. They have Woodrow Wilson and Helen Keller down under it somewhere. I have taken the tour.
Recreating structures like these is actually quite fun when you get used to using cadd programs. I had such a blast rebuilding the st. Michael's cathedral.
let's see how far they can fly before being shot down by Hucka-bees, religious gun clingers
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.