I’m pleased to read letters that question the relevance and significance of the so-called Bible Belt when it comes to social justice issues on legislative agendas. We do seem remarkably silent, if not downright obstructionist, though the more progressive mainline denominations have taken official positions against destructive environmental practices, for health care and immigration reform and for responsible legislation to curb gun violence.
At a Jan.15 news conference in Washington, a spokesman for my (and Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander’s) denomination, United Presbyterian USA, and 37 other Christian denominations called for a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, universal background checks and declaring gun trafficking a federal crime with very stiff penalties.
On Feb. 7, the United Methodist Board of Church and Society (Congressman Phil Roe’s church) — as part of a national coalition of 40 faith denominations and organizations — issued a news release calling for similar legislation.
Obviously, at upper levels, the faith communities have figured out that you can’t, without bizarre mental calisthenics, wrap our core values around the “more guns” solution of the NRA or the phony platitudes about guns and freedom. The question is how our politicians, most of whom belong to one of the 37, justify ignoring the imperatives from that part of their lives they’d all publicly profess as their essential moral compass.
Well, maybe they sense how tidily we at the grass roots have compartmentalized it all, too, particularly where courage might expose us too much. We might try finding our way through fear mongering, misdirection and misinformation to allow the Gospel teachings (that are far too often inconvenient and “best ignored) to give rise to a response no one can ignore.
In our hearts we know the status quo isn’t OK and more guns aren’t the answer.
Could we hear more voices on this?