“Polls show that 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks for gun buyers,” filmmaker Abigail Disney writes at Reuters, “yet a bill mandating this died in the Senate. Evangelical Christians, however, may well be the key to shifting America’s broken political dynamic around gun rights.” So now you know: Abigail Disney’s Armor of Light is anti-gun rights. So that’s why Roy’s granddaughter offered free tickets to NRA members. Anyway, Abby would have us believe that Evangelicals are going to tip the balance towards gun control. Like this . . .
Right now, white evangelical Protestants are the group most likely to oppose stricter gun- control laws. They stand out as one of the few constituencies where a strong pro-life identity is tied to attitudes against any restrictions on gun ownership. Evangelicals are also one of the strongest constituencies of support for the National Rifle Association.
Yet the NRA, which has been vigilant in advancing expansive gun-ownership policies, including broader concealed-carry rights, has been accused by its critics of having a casual disregard for the sanctity of human life. A brief stroll through its direct mail and advertising, listening to the language of its most prominent spokespeople and seeing the laws it promotes could bear this assertion out. Meanwhile, the proliferation of “stand your ground” laws, which relieve citizens of the obligation to exhaust all options before shooting in self-defense, sounds like an inversion of basic Christian teachings about loving every human being, including, and most especially, those who would harm you.
That ought to convince them – if the film doesn’t. Which, I’m thinking, it won’t.
I’ve spent most of the past two years making a documentary about a leading evangelical Christian minister who is strongly questioning the close ties between his religion and the NRA. The Armor of Light shows how Rob Schenck [above], who operates an influential ministry on Capitol Hill in Washington, has begun asking whether pro-life Christians can also be pro-gun. In doing so, Schenck finds himself increasingly alone — way out on a political limb.
To paraphrase Dr. King, How long before the Evangelicals cut off that limb? Not long.
“I’m concerned about the NRA promoting the idea that the best way to solve the most vexing problems in our society is to be prepared to shoot people dead,” Schenck said at a meeting of the Evangelical Church Alliance. “That doesn’t sit well with me as a Christian moral vision.” He continued: “When we champion the Second Amendment over and above the word of God, then we must be very careful that in respecting the Second Amendment we don’t violate the Second Commandment.”
When the call of conscience trumps habit and history, surprising things can happen. From Jim Crow to women’s suffrage, it is only when men and women have brought their higher selves into the political realm that we have seen systems radically change.
It might not be as hard as we fear.
I pray that she’s right. That it’s not as hard as we fear to restore Americans’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. [SS]