Gun Violence Is Sin; Prayers Are Not Enough

What words are left?

If we as a nation are willing to allow mass causality gun crimes to go unanswered with legislation that could make a meaningful difference in the lives of our people, what words are left to share with those killed at the social services center in San Bernardino, CA today?

Do we share with them the same words of comfort and promises of action that were promised to the children massacred at Sandy Hook or the young college students murdered in Roseburg, Ore. earlier this fall?

That fact that people are still able to purchase weapons of war, some of which were appropriately banned under the now-expired Assault Weapons Ban, is a moral failure on the part of our nation. Yes, we have failed to address these issues on a political front but the politicians are not the only problem. President Obama and Vice-President Biden have risked enormous political capital fighting for common sense gun laws and Hillary Clinton has actively made reducing gun violence a major part of her platform for 2016.

We cannot win this fight, however, until the American people stand up and say that offering prayers are not enough: we need action.

We need to fight for new laws that keep guns meant for war -- not for duck hunting in Oregon -- out of the hands of crazed killers, gang members, and those suffering from prohibitive mental illnesses. Not to mention people on the terrorist watch list.

Standing in our way is the NRA, the money they bring to campaigns, and the politics of fear they have mastered. Only the NRA could get away with saying that even those on the terrorist watch list, imperfect as that list may be, should still be able to purchase weapons and have their endorsement sought after by Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats.

Words won't be enough. Prayers are always welcome but ring empty when followed by promises to defend gun rights in a nation where guns are worshiped as idols.

For people of faith, it is clear that we are called to be peacemakers. This means getting out from behind pulpits and into the public square to stand up against the NRA and the politicians that follow their lead. It means challenging NRA members in our pews to re-think what it means to be a child of God.

The Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend is occurring December 10-14 and there is still time to participate:

Join places of worship across the nation, the Washington National Cathedral, the Newtown Foundation and Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, a coalition of more than 50 national denominations and faith-based organizations, to remember those who have lost their lives to gunfire, pray for those whose lives have been forever changed because of the loss of a loved one, and to educate one another on proven strategies to reduce gun violence.

Faith leaders need to help inspire the nation to action. Too many have already needlessly died. How many will die tomorrow? Will our prayers matter if we are not prepared to help build the Beloved Community that God has envisioned for us?

We can still take actions that bring meaning to our prayers and faith.