What should Christians do about guns?

“I know of churches that would never hire a pastor who smoked but have shooting events at their yearly men’s retreats. I know Christian parents who warn their kids about the dangers of marijuana use but don’t hesitate to buy them firearms. I know conservative people of faith who affirm the need for legal and systemic change when it comes to limiting abortion but only look to personal choice and endlessly invoke the language of individual rights when it comes to gun violence. This is hypocrisy.”

These challenging words come from the courageous and prophetic American pastor and writer Tish Harrison Warren in her latest New York Times column titled “What Should Christians Do About Guns?”

Harrison Warren writes: “To achieve the social and cultural changes necessary to reduce gun violence, we need individuals and communities of faith — not just progressive people of faith, but all people of faith — to stand against the idolatry of guns in America.

Leaders in the Black church have led the way in a fight against gun violence. Last June, a group of seven prominent Black pastors, led by Charlie Dates at Progressive Baptist Church in Chicago, published an open letter in Christianity Today calling on white evangelical Christians ‘to go pro-life on guns.’ Dates wrote that it is often senators ‘who serve in your districts, sit in your pews and listen to your preaching’ who are ‘the greatest antagonists to a real pro-life, anti-school-shootings agenda.’ He pleads, ‘Every American child is waiting on you to use your influence to protect them.’ The broader church, and indeed all people of faith, must respond to their plea.

As a priest and as a Christian, I have long believed that Christians are called to love our neighbors and seek, in the words of the biblical book of Isaiah, the ‘welfare of the city’. To do so, we must understand our context, our culture and the needs of our particular time and place. What does it mean to be peacemakers, to love our neighbors and to affirm the value of human life in this moment? The unavoidable conclusion is that we in America’s churches can no longer claim to worship the ‘prince of peace’ while tolerating the preventable obliteration of America’s children.”

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