At makeshift National Mall graveyard, clergy demand gun control

WASHINGTON — Clergy from California to Connecticut created a makeshift graveyard symbolizing victims of gun violence on the National Mall … Continued

WASHINGTON — Clergy from California to Connecticut created a makeshift graveyard symbolizing victims of gun violence on the National Mall on Thursday (April 11) as they exhorted Congress to pass legislation to limit access to firearms.

Standing in front of 3,300 grave markers — representing the number of people who have died in gun violence since December’s massacre in Newtown, Conn. — more than 25 ministers, rabbis and other religious leaders decried as “idolatrous” a society that values guns more than human life.

“We don’t have a Second Amendment issue,” said the Rev. Matt Crebbin of Newtown Congregational Church. “We have a Second Commandment crisis.

“The near infatuation with the gun is moving dangerously close to becoming a full-blown worship of a false idol,” continued Crebbin, whose in December presided over a nationally televised memorial service for Newtown victims.

Other clergy, speaking to a crowd of mostly reporters, picked up on the idolatry theme. They singled out for particular blame those lawmakers who take gun-lobby money and ignore the national will. Polls show that most Americans support universal background checks and tighter gun control.

“The nation is so far ahead of where our political leaders are,” said the Rev. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, a liberal Christian group that organized the grave-markers project and a 24-hour vigil on the National Mall. “Our political leaders need to catch up.”

Most of the grave markers were wooden crosses, but some were placards printed with the symbols of other religious traditions — Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Sikhism. Each represents a life taken, said Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

“Every one of those religious symbols represents one of God’s children,” he said. “See the one there? That’s a mother, who won’t be there to comfort her child the next time they’re sick.”

Emotions ran high among the clergy. The Rev. Sam Saylor of Blackwell Memorial AME Zion Church in Hartford, Conn., broke down in wails and fell into the arms of his fellow pastors after he spoke about Newtown and his son, Shane Oliver, who was 20 when he was gunned down last year.

Since Oliver’s death, life will never be the same for his family, just as, since Newtown, life will never be the same for the country, Saylor said.

“We can’t ever go back home again,” he said. “Business in Washington can never be the same again. We can never take life for granted again.”

It is unclear whether members of Congress feel similarly. Even supporters of the background-check bill introduced this week in the Senate acknowledge that it faces high hurdles. And opposition looms even larger for other gun control measures, including an assault weapons ban and limits on high-capacity magazines.

One passerby shouted at the clergy, as a closing prayer was offered, that people have a better chance of going to jail than getting shot.

But most tourists strolling by the gathering seemed sympathetic to the clergy’s cause.

“It’s silly that the American people so overwhelming want something to happen and Congress refuses to act on it,” said Tim Keene of North Yarmouth, Maine.

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Religion News Service LLC.

Comments are closed.

Read More Articles

Screenshot 2014-04-23 11.40.54
Atheists Bad, Christians Good: A Review of “God’s Not Dead”

A smug Christian movie about smug atheists leads to an inevitable happy ending.

shutterstock_134310734
Ten Ways to Make Your Church Autism-Friendly

The author of the Church of England’s autism guidelines shares advice any church can follow.

Valle Header Art
My Life Depended on the Very Act of Writing

How I was saved by writing about God and cancer.

shutterstock_188545496
Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

5783999789_9d06e5d7df_b
The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

concert
Why I Want to Be Culturally Evangelical

I’ve lost my faith. Do I have to lose my heritage, too?

shutterstock_37148347
What Is a Saint?

How the diversity of saintly lives reveals multiple paths toward God.

987_00
An Ayatollah’s Gift to Baha’is, Iran’s Largest Religious Minority

An ayatollah offers a beautiful symbolic gesture against a backdrop of violent persecution.

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

shutterstock_188022491
Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

Pile_of_trash_2
Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

sunset-hair
From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.