Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners, speaks during a press conference at the United Methodist Building January 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Jim Wallis, a well-known, progressive faith leader, is no fan of the National Rifle Association (NRA). In fact, he's an outspoken advocate for more gun control and, on Wednesday, he publicly joined other left-of-center faith leaders to push fervently for government intervention in cracking down on firearms. In an article published yesterday on his web site, Sojourners, Wallis continued to air his views about the nation's most prominent gun-rights group, taking specific issue with the NRA's so-called "dangerous theology."
"As an evangelical Christian, I’m going to make this theological," wrote the Christian leader, going on to call a recent statement from Wayne LaPierre, executive vice-president of the NRA, "morally mistaken, theologically dangerous, and religiously-repugnant."
The comment at the center of Wallis' contempt? LaPierre's statement in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." The faith leader proceeded to delve into the apparent moral and theological issues inherent in the NRA staffer's views on the matter.
"The world is not full of good and bad people; that is not what our scriptures teach us. We are, as human beings, both good and bad," Wallis wrote. "This is not only true of humanity as a whole, but we as individuals have both good and bad in us."
It is with this bad that the progressive faith leader contends negativity can arise -- particularly when it pertains to firearms and the availability of certain guns.
"When we are bad or isolated or angry or furious or vengeful or politically agitated or confused or lost or deranged or unhinged -- and we have the ability to get and use weapons only designed to kill large numbers of people -- our society is in great danger," he continued.
Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners, and Sayyid Syeed(R) of the Islamic Society of North America, smile at each other after speaking during a press conference at the United Methodist Building January 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. The group of religious leader organized by Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence held the news conference to speak out against gun violence and call for gun law reform including a ban on assault style weapons and universal background checks. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Wallis decried the notion that ensuring that there are more guns than bad people is a good idea and he advocated for advancing policies that will protect America's children. In order to keep kids safe, the faith leader argued that firearms must be contained and curtailed. Then, his' op-ed quickly turned from the NRA to race and the impact of gun violence on blacks and Hispanics:
Let me be personal and theological again, this time with Rev. Phil Jackson, a young pastor from Chicago who I talked with earlier this week. A young, dynamic street pastor, he told me that Chicago had 2,400 shootings in 2012 — 505 of them resulting in death. More than 100 of them were children from elementary to high school. Almost all of the murdered ones were people and children of color — African-American and Latino. That’s more gun deaths in Chicago than American troop deaths in Afghanistan last year. One city.
Rev. Jackson thinks that God cares as much about murdered children of color in Chicago as God cares about murdered white children in Connecticut. But it seems that mostly the white children get our attention and break our hearts. He thinks those murdered black and brown kids also get God’s attention as much as murdered white kids. But he wonders why they don’t get ours. It’s morally mistaken and also religiously repugnant.
Wallis concluded the piece by calling upon religious people to act based upon their faith and not their politics or personal views on gun advocacy. He also implored parents to call for "a national conversation on guns." Then, he invoked his 9-year-old son, Jack, and the young boy's views on gun control -- sentiments Wallis said that he agrees with.
"I think that they ought to let people who, like licensed hunters, have guns if they use them to hunt. And people who need guns -- who need guns for their job like policemen and army," Jack recently told his father. "But I don’t think that we should just let anybody have any kind of gun and any kind of bullets that they want. That’s pretty crazy."
Read Wallis' entire story here.