I attended a conversation with several clergy and a denominational leader sponsored by Everytown. The focus was to advocate for a faith that includes the triad of THOUGHTS-PRAYERS-ACTION. Here are some of their responses:

Rev. Sharmaine Brown: Sharmaine’s son was killed by someone who was angry because of someone else. He urged conversations about tough issues.

Rev. Jason Carson Williams: He survived an episode of police gun violence. His grandmother was killed by GV. A friend committed suicide by gun. Stand Your Ground laws are too narrowly focused, only on the person who wants to SYG. He believes SYG grows out of White Supremacy. We must speak truth to power. It is vital that people share their GV stories. He asks: “If a student cannot go to school in safety, do we really live in the land of the free?”

Rev. Hannah Atkins Romero: Hannah lives in Texas. She was an innocent person impacted by a gathering of the KKK that killed five people in Greensboro, North Carolina. A friend was killed over a pair of shoes. She says Texas gun laws deserve an “F” for gun safety. She believes White Supremacy undergirds GV. Members of her church write letters, have orange streamers to remember those killed by GV, and have a laminated pole near their church’s columbarium to memorialize those killed by GV.

Meredith Jacobs: She is a member of one of the first Jewish-American organizations dedicated to GVP. She sees the connection between domestic violence and the preponderance of GV. She cites a Stanford University study that says women were 7x more likely to be shot by a partner who has gun access. Meredith works with other faith groups. She urged political action to close the “boyfriend loophole”, and was saddened that the Republicans opposed the bill. She says those served with restraining orders are the most dangerous. She cites anti-semitic incidents at a record level.

Shane Claiborne: Author, advocate and speaker. He grew up in Tennessee. Many family members are gun owners. He says, “The more I fell in love with Jesus the more I became concerned about guns.” Jesus said to “Love your enemies.” The cross and the gun give two opposite life actions. Guns are the number one cause of death for children. GVP is both a gun and heart problem. He quoted MLK, Jr: “A law cannot make you love me, but it can make it harder for you to kill me.” Shane contrasted/compared cars and guns. As drivers are required to learn driving safety, and are registered and licensed, why cannot gun buyers be similarly treated? The danger of guns is they are so efficient in what they are created to do. Two thirds of Americans do not have guns in their homes. 50% of evangelicals own guns which Shane calls “Idols”. We must remember Isaiah who spoke of beating swords into plowshares.

The inspiring notes are that these faith-based leaders unite faith with action. Each is active in GVP within their faith communities. Each is a change-maker. Each externalizes their internal faith. This is how GVP becomes a reality. What are our church leaders saying? Doing?

Ron Letnes (Rev. Dr.)