News / USA

US Clergy Speak Out For, Against, Gun Control

US Clergy Speak Out For, Against, Gun Controli
X
April 11, 2013 5:43 PM
As Congress wrangles over demands for tighter gun control in the wake of recent shooting rampages, American faith leaders are speaking out on both sides of the issue. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports from Newtown, Connecticut.
US Clergy Speak Out For, Against, Gun Control
As Congress wrangles over demands for tighter gun control in the wake of recent shooting rampages, American faith leaders are speaking out on both sides of the issue.

Leading a march against gun violence in Washington recently, Episcopal Bishop Mariann Budde said men and women in the pulpits should speak out because it is they who often end up comforting the bereaved.

"I think we're tired of presiding at funerals, frankly," she said.

U.S. clergy have been getting increasingly involved in the gun control debate since 20 small children were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December. Six adults also died.

The Reverend Matthew Crebbin of Newtown Congregational Church and Rabbi Shaul Praver of Congregation Adath Israel helped push through Connecticut's new bipartisan gun law and have called on Congress to follow suit.

The two men were with parents at the Sandy Hook firehouse December 14 when they received the news that their children were among the dead.

"Why is it that we accept that we can lose 30,000 people a year to guns" asked Crebbin. "If this was a war, where we were losing soldiers or we were losing other people, we would not accept that."

Crebbin said Jesus himself responded to violence with non-violence and love.

But Maryland evangelical pastor David Whitney sees it differently. He is a self-described "Second Amendment pastor," who believes that amendment's guarantee of the right to bear arms is God-given.

"Jesus did teach, 'Turn the other cheek,'" he said. "But there's a difference. If I were to slap you on the cheek - I have offended you, I have embarrassed you, I have insulted you, I have done you some damage, maybe I have even bruised your cheek - but I have not threatened your life.

"Jesus didn't say if someone pulls out a sword and stabs you, turn and let him stab you again," he added.

"You can find pretty much anything [in scripture] to justify anything you want to justify," said Crebbin, who believes that gun worship in America borders on idolatry.

"Sometimes people are so intent on looking at the Second Amendment that they forget about the Second Commandment," he said.

The tragedy that befell Newtown, horrific as it was, has breathed new life into the idea of gun control in America. But the question remains whether a religious initiative - by no means supported by all U.S. clergy - can keep it from dying a quick death in Washington.

One tactic followed at the pro-gun control rally was to shame opponents of gun regulation.

Bishop Budde read from the legislative testimony of Veronica Pozner, whose six-year-old son Noah was one of the school shooting victims.

"He lies forever motionless in the Earth. He will never get to attend middle school or high school, kiss a girl, attend college, pick a career path, fall in love, marry, have children or travel the world."

Noah's family belonged to Rabbi Praver's synagogue.

"There was an outpouring of love from all over the country," the rabbi said, as he showed the boxes of items in his office that people had sent in from all over the country for all the victims' families.

"We had teddy bears up to the ceiling," he said.

According to Praver, Judaism teaches that regulation is needed to prevent crimes of opportunity. He said the ancient sages illustrated this with a simple parable.

"The Talmud speaks - it's kind of an interesting story - about a mouse that tries to get the cheese," he said. "But the mouse can only get the cheese if there's a hole in the wall."

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs