The shooting massacre at a Connecticut grade school has shocked the nation and prompted a flood of reflections on the role of faith in providing consolation and understanding. But there is also an intense debate over how, or whether, religious groups should weigh in on the public policy debate about gun violence.
The killing of 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., follows the shooting rampage in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in August and a horrifying gun attack just two weeks before that in a movie theater in Colorado.
(The Connecticut gunman, Adam Lanza, also shot his mother to death at her home before going to the school, and he apparently took his own life when the shooting spree was interrupted.)
As in those earlier tragedies, the Newtown murders have raised questions about the proper response for people of faith and religious leaders.
Some argue that religion can offer chiefly spiritual solace and communal solidarity, and that discussions of policy issues like gun control are inappropriate or beyond the purview of faith groups. Others say that religious groups have a moral duty to raise these issues in order to try to prevent further bloodshed.
More than 30,000 Americans die each year from gun violence, and shooting massacres are a fairly regular occurrence in American life.
Gun control was not an issue for ether party in the 2012 presidential campaign. Experts say that is because polls show that although the public has been supportive of some gun control laws, Americans are also against further restrictions.
Some observers say the Newtown tragedy could change that dynamic. Will that happen? And what role will religious groups play?
This edition of ReligionLink provides the latest articles on faith-based responses to the Newtown massacre as well as background and expert sources for those writing about the religious dimensions of the gun debate.
Responses and articles on the Newtown tragedy
- In an April 3, 2013 column in The Washington Post, Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, a spokesperson for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, backed an assault weapons ban, saying that it “stands as another important pro-life position.”
- A Feb. 25, 2013, editorial in the Catholic magazine America calls for repealing the Second Amendment so effective gun control measures that pass constitutional muster can be adopted.
- Vice President Joe Biden and officials on his gun violence committee held an unannounced meeting on Jan. 9, 2013, with a group of 12 national faith leaders, according to this CNN report.
- Read a Jan. 8, 2013, post at Christianity Today’s blog for women, “Why All Christians Can Back Better Gun Control: My allegiance to Christ trumps my allegiance to this country and its founding documents.”
- Read a Jan. 3, 2013, Associated Baptist Press column, “Idolatry and the AR-15: Is America’s fixation with acquiring firearms a form of idolatry?”
- Read a Dec. 28, 2012, essay at CNN’s Belief Blog by Daniel Darling titled, “It’s time for evangelicals to speak up about guns.”
- In a Dec. 21, 2012, statement, top leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called for more effective gun control measures and for greater focus on “the pervasive role of addiction and mental illness in crime.”
- Read a Dec. 19, 2012, New York Times story, “Religious Leaders Push Congregants on Gun Control, Sensing a Watershed Moment.”
- Read a Dec. 17, 2012, Religion News Service story, “Newtown shooting galvanizes religious gun control advocates.”
- The National Council of Jewish Women called for “a renewed effort to enact stricter gun laws and end the scourge of gun violence.”
- A Dec. 17, 2012, column posted by the Baptist Press focuses on mental health and the Newtown massacre and asks what churches should be doing to help people dealing with mental illness.
- Read the transcript of President Barack Obama’s remarks on Dec. 16, 2012, at the Sandy Hook Interfaith Prayer Vigil. The president vowed to “use whatever power this office holds … in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.”
- Read a Dec. 16, 2012, New York Times story about Newtown clergy trying to help the community and prepare for funeral rites for the victims.
- Christianity Today‘s blog has a roundup of reactions from religious groups and leaders.
- Mark DeMoss, a Christian conservative who led evangelical outreach efforts for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, told Politico that conservatives need to support greater regulations on guns.
- The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and popular author, argues that “Gun Control is a Pro-Life Issue” in a column at the blog of America magazine.
- Read a Dec. 16, 2012, CNN story, “Massacre of children leaves many asking, ‘Where’s God?’”
- In a Dec. 16, 2012, sermon, the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral, called on the nation to address gun violence. “I believe the gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby,” he said.
- Catholics United urged Obama to initiate a national discussion about gun violence.
- The Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism renewed its long-standing call for “sensible gun control.”
- The American Humanist Association issued a statement calling for “a serious conversation” about gun violence and decrying what it said was an effort by some “to raise irrelevant issues of church-state separation” as a possible underlying cause of the attack.
- The Center for Inquiry’s daily blog rounds up some of the other nontheist reaction to the shooting.
- Mike Huckabee, the former Republican presidential candidate and a Baptist pastor, said religious faith has been barred from public schools and that led to the Newtown massacre and similar tragedies.
- At Commentary magazine, Peter Wehner critiqued Huckabee’s analysis.
- Like Huckabee, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson said the massacre resulted from America turning its back on God.
More articles on the Newtown shooting and on the shootings from earlier in 2012 can be found in the background section below.
Why it matters
The passions surrounding the gun control debate have opened a fissure in American society, a split that also affects religious communities. The toll from gun violence is enormous, and it affects urban, suburban and rural communities. It also affects houses of worship, which have sometimes been the site of shootings.
Throughout the 1990s, gun control emerged as a salient issue, especially in the wake of the Columbine High School shootings in April 1999 and culminating with the Million Mom March for “sensible gun laws” that took place on Mother’s Day 2000.
Since then, however, the issue has moved to the back burner in spite of continued headline-making tragedies as well as the regular annual toll in gun deaths from suicides, accidents and homicides. (The Million Mom March organization is now under the umbrella of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.)
Gun control was one of a handful of issues that did not spark the interest that was expected in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, according to Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center. As an article he co-wrote in December of that year said, “A survey conducted days after the massacre found that just 37% of Americans favored a ban on handgun sales, down 10 points from 2000.” (See those poll results here.) By 2011, the figure had dropped even further, to 26 percent.
A November 2004 analysis from Gallup showed virtually no difference in opinions on gun control between regular churchgoers and those who attend services less frequently or not at all. This similarity exists despite the fact that regular churchgoers and gun owners tend to be conservative.
Houses of worship are themselves not immune to gun violence. Examples, in addition to the Aug. 5, 2012, shooting at the Sikh temple, include:
- In March 2009, a gunman walked into the First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill., and shot and killed the pastor with a .45-caliber gun.
- In November 2008, a gunman walked into a church in Clifton, N.J., and shot and killed his estranged wife and a worshipper who rushed to her aid.
- In July 2008, a man with an apparent grudge against liberals opened fire during a musical at a Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tenn., killing two and wounding seven.
- In December 2007, a 24-year-old man opened fire at a missionary training center near Denver and then at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, killing four people in total before shooting and killing himself.
Statements from faith groups
While many religious groups have policy statements decrying gun violence and advocating gun control, those statements are often a decade old or more, and gun control advocates say that few religious groups are making gun control a priority. The push for a faith-based action for gun control is also complicated by the fact that gun ownership and opposition to gun control are part of the religious worldview of many Christians, especially evangelicals and Pentecostals in the South and West. Southern Baptists and Mormons, in particular, are influential voices opposing restrictions on gun ownership. In fact, a 2006 nationwide poll commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation found that half of all hunters and anglers identified as evangelical Christians.
In 2002, Richard Land, the chief public policy spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention, decried what he called “a long-term assault on your Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.”
Here are statements from a representative sampling of major religious organizations and denominations:
- The National Council of Churches has long advocated a reduction in gun violence through gun control. Read a March 15, 2000, statement, “Interfaith Call to End Gun Violence.”
- Catholic bishops have cited the need for reducing gun violence a number of times. In November 1994 U.S. bishops released a pastoral letter, “Confronting a Culture of Violence: A Catholic Framework for Action,” which addressed gun violence. In November 2000 the bishops adopted a statement, titled “Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice,” in which they say that “in the long run and with few exceptions (i.e., police officers, military use), handguns should be eliminated from our society.”
- The United Methodist Church has an official statement on criminal justice and restorative justice in its Social Principles and a statement on gun violence in the Book of Resolutions.
- The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) began speaking out on gun violence after the wave of assassinations of public figures in the late 1960s. It adopted its fullest statement on gun violence and gun control in 1990 and amended it in 1998. Read a summary of the PCUSA’s positions.
- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 1994 adopted a broad statement on community violence that also cited gun violence and a 1993 resolution by the Churchwide Assembly that calls for “passage and strict enforcement of local, state and national legislation that rigidly controls manufacture, importation, exportation, sale, purchase, transfer, receipt, possession and transportation of handguns, assault weapons and assault-like weapons and their parts, excluding rifles and shotguns used for hunting and sporting purposes, for use other than law enforcement and military purposes.” A 2001 article in The Lutheran summarizes the ELCA’s record.
- The Episcopal Church passed its major statement against gun violence in 1976 and since then the Episcopal Public Policy Network of the ECUSA has issued a number of calls for gun control.
- The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence was founded by Jim Brady, the former White House spokesman who was wounded in the head during the assassination attempt on President Reagan in 1981, and Brady’s wife, Sarah. The Brady Center says it is “working to reform the gun industry and educate the public about gun violence through litigation and grassroots mobilization.” It is one of the leading voices in the gun control debate and is the umbrella organization for several other groups. One of those is the Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence coalition, established after the January 2011 shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and 18 other people in Tucson, Ariz. Contact Jim Winkler, spokesman for the faith coalition, through Brady’s communications director, Caroline Brewer, 202-289-5769, email@example.com.
- Cure Violence, formerly known as CeaseFire, is an initiative of the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention. Cure Violence takes a public health approach to reducing violence and strives to change community attitudes as one way to combat the problem. Tactics have included a “Covenant for Peace in Action,” which was joined by more than 170 of the city’s religious leaders. Other cities have adopted the model, and in June 2012 the United States Conference of Mayors affirmed its support for the group’s work. Contact Josh Gryniewicz, 312-413-3253, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is a leading advocacy group that works with faith-based organizations “to secure freedom from gun violence through research, strategic engagement and effective policy advocacy.” Contact director of communications Ladd Everitt at 202-408-0061 ext. 1003, email@example.com.
- Heeding God’s Call is a faith-based movement that seeks to end gun violence. Its partner faith communities include Christians, Muslims and Jews. Contact 267-519-5302.
- The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism launched a Swords Into Plowshares campaign to combat gun violence, and gun control has been a high priority of the Reform movement for many years. Contact Noah Baron, legislative assistant for the center, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Violence Policy Center is a prominent Washington-based lobby that approaches gun violence as “a broad-based public health crisis of which crime is merely the most recognized aspect.” Contact Holly Connor, 202-822-8200 ext. 110, email@example.com.
- The American Center for Law & Justice is a religious freedom advocacy group associated with the religious right. The ACLJ filed an amicus brief in 2008 opposing gun restrictions in Washington, D.C.; the Supreme Court struck down the restrictions. Jay Sekulow is chief counsel. Contact 202-546-8890, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The conservative Christian advocacy group Eagle Forum has long opposed any infringement on Second Amendment rights. Contact Colleen Holmes in the Washington, D.C., office, 202-544-0353, Colleen@eagleforum.org.
- The Foundation for Moral Law, headed by former Alabama Judge Roy S. Moore, who gained notoriety for his battle to have a Ten Commandments monument installed at the courthouse, has filed amicus briefs in recent high-profile cases involving gun rights. Contact Moore in Montgomery, Ala., at 334-262-1245.
- Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership is a Wisconsin-based organization “initially aimed at educating the Jewish community about the historical evils that Jews have suffered when they have been disarmed.” Rabbi Dovid Bendory, also known as “The Gun Rabbi,” is the group’s rabbinic director. Bendory is a certified NRA instructor and range safety officer, and his firearms classes include religious and ethical insights on personal defense. He is based in New Jersey. Contact 262-673-9745, email@example.com.
- The Rutherford Institute, a legal advocacy group associated with conservative Christianity, filed an amicus brief in the Heller case against gun restrictions by the District of Columbia. John W. Whitehead is founder. Contact Whitehead at 434-978-3888 or through Nisha Whitehead, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The St. Gabriel Possenti Society, a Catholic group based in Arlington, Va., promotes self-defense through gun ownership and is named after a Catholic seminarian in Italy whose “marksmanship and proficiency with handguns single-handedly saved the village of Isola” from a band of Garibaldi’s nationalist soldiers in 1860. The group claims Possenti as the patron saint of “handgunners.” John Snyder leads the society. Contact 202-239-8005, email@example.com.
- George Barna is head of the Barna Group, an evangelical research company in Ventura, Calif. In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, Barna wrote an essay arguing that gun control was not the main issue raised by the massacre, but parental control. Contact 805-639-0000, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Galen Carey is vice president for government relations at the National Association of Evangelicals, which includes 43,000 congregations from 50 member denominations, individual congregations from an additional 27 denominations, and 250 parachurch ministries and educational institutions. Contact 202-789-1011.
- Douglas E. Cowan is a professor in the religious studies department at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. He wrote a 2004 essay, “God, Guns and Grist for the Media’s Mill,” for Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, which he co-edits. Contact 519-884-4404 ext. 607, email@example.com.
- John Green is senior research adviser at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. He is also professor of political science and director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron in Ohio. Green is a leading expert on trends in religion and politics. Contact 330-972-5182, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Robert P. Jones is CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute. He can discuss findings of the institute’s August 2012 survey of Americans’ attitudes on gun rights and gun control, including how the findings varied along religious lines. Contact through Adam Muhlendorf, 202-265-3000, email@example.com.
- Stephen A. Kent is a sociology professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and an expert on religions and their views on crime and responses to violence. Contact 780-492-2204, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- David B. Kopel is an associate policy analyst and expert on firearms issues with the Cato Institute. He has written several books on gun control, including Aiming for Liberty: The Past, Present and Future of Freedom and Self-Defense (2009). Kopel’s personal website includes a page of links about religious writings on self-defense and gun control. Contact 202-789-5200.
- Ron Sider is founder and director of Evangelicals for Social Action, which has been promoting social justice issues among evangelicals for more than 30 years. Contact 484-384-2990.
- Jim Wallis is founder and editor of Sojourners and author of The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post-Religious Right America. Contact through Tim King, 202-328-8842, email@example.com.
- Benjamin Wittes is a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution and co-director of the Harvard Law School-Brookings Project on Law and Security. Contact 202-797-6206, or through the communications office at 202-797-6105.
- Robert J. Wuthnow is a sociologist of religion and director of the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University in New Jersey. He is a leading expert on public activism by faith-based groups. Contact 609-258-2044, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Read a Dec. 21, 2012 analysis by the Council on Foreign Relations of gun ownership and violence the United States as compared to other countries.
- Polls show that despite high-profile shootings and other incidents, the public’s enthusiasm for gun control is waning. Gallup reported that a record-low 26 percent of Americans favored a handgun ban in 2011, and 53 percent opposed banning semiautomatic guns or assault rifles. Most of those polled did want current gun control laws enforced more rigorously, though. Forty-seven percent of U.S. adults owned a gun in 2011, according to Gallup.
- An August 2012 survey found that by a large majority, Americans consider the constitutional right to own and carry a gun to be as important as the right to free speech. An even larger majority of those polled, though, voiced opposition to people carrying concealed weapons into houses of worship. What’s more, there was considerable difference of opinion along religious demographic lines about how best to deter gun massacres. The survey was conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service.
- A July 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found Americans’ views on gun laws essentially unchanged in the wake of the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting.
- An April 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found Americans more concerned about gun rights than about gun control.
- Read a roundup of recent surveys from PollingReport.com.
- Read a Washington Post She the People blog post from Dec. 15, 2012, about solutions for mass gun violence and the role of mental illness, evil and cultural influences in such tragedies.
- Read a Dec. 15, 2012, USA Today story about the eternal questions raised by events such as the Newtown killings.
- Read a Dec. 14, 2012, column at Patheos.com, “Where is God When Children Are Murdered Down the Road?”
ARTICLES AND ESSAYS IN RESPONSE TO THE SUMMER 2012 SHOOTINGS
- Read an Aug. 19, 2012, JTA story about Reform and Conservative rabbinical leaders calling for increased gun controls after the spate of shootings in the summer of 2012.
- The Associated Press identified the suspect in the August 2012 shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin as a 40-year-old Army veteran, Wade Michael Page, and a civil rights group said Page was the one-time leader of a white supremacist group.
- Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki condemned the Sikh temple shooting. He told a local radio station: “None of us are free from evil in the world. There is evil. Individuals have free choice. Hopefully, they’re guided by the sense of devotion to God and justice, but we know that evil touches the lives of every community, sometimes in very tragic ways.”
- The Sikh Coalition issued a statement on the temple shootings.
- Read an Aug. 16, 2012, Religion News Service story, posted by The Salt Lake Tribune, about a survey of Americans’ attitudes on gun control, including whether concealed weapons should be allowed in places of worship.
- Read an editorial in the Aug. 13, 2012, edition of the Jesuit weekly America calling for more gun control in the wake of the Aurora shooting.
- Read an Aug. 3, 2012, Associated Baptist Press column on assault weapons, in which Editor Marv Knox says that “This, too, is a pro-life issue.”
- “We are victims of out-of-control gun culture” is the title of a July 26, 2012, editorial at National Catholic Reporter.
- New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, a Catholic who often writes about the religious and moral dimensions of topical issues, has a July 26, 2012, blog post titled “On Gun Control and Prohibition.”
- Read a July 25, 2012, Politico article about a coalition of U.S. mayors who pressed both major presidential candidates to give voters more details about their stances on gun control.
- Read “Court upholds Georgia ban on guns in church,” a July 24, 2012, story by Religion News Service.
- Read a July 23, 2012, story at Tablet Magazine, an online Jewish periodical, titled “Banning Guns Isn’t the Answer: Stricter gun-control laws won’t prevent the next mass shooting, but better mental-health policies might.”
- A July 23, 2012, Religion News Service article explores the question “Is gun control a religious issue?” It’s pegged to a column by the Rev. James Martin, posted by the Jesuit weekly America.
- Read a July 22, 2012, essay on Christianity Today’s site, “Making Non-Sense of the Colorado Shootings.”
- Read blogger Ellen Painter Dollar’s July 22, 2012, column on Patheos.com, in which she says that gun control is such a hot-button issue that some people of faith are unwilling to take it on.
- “Can we talk about guns?” is a July 21, 2012, blog post at The Christian Century by Richard A. Kauffman. “Could we have a civil conversation about our differences on guns and the deleterious effect of guns in our society?” he writes. “Any chance that churches could start that conversation?”
- Read a July 20, 2012, RNS article about religious leaders urging tighter gun control, as well as prayer, in the wake of the Colorado shooting.
- Read a July 20, 2012, post at the Daily Theology blog titled “Confronting our culture of violence.” It is by Kevin Ahern, a doctoral candidate in theological ethics at Boston College. Ahern wonders if “the time is ripe for the US Bishops to clarify and teach how we might address this challenge pastorally and politically?”
- Read a July 20, 2012, column at the Catholic Moral Theology blog, “The Dark Night,” by David Cloutier, a theologian at Mount St. Mary’s University.
PREVIOUS ARTICLES ON RELIGION AND GUN VIOLENCE
- Read a Feb. 7, 2011, column, posted by the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, that acknowledges differences of opinions among Jews about gun control but urges support for efforts to keep firearms out of the hands of those intent on harming others.
- Read the transcript of a Jan. 21, 2011, Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly episode about gun control. The show also dealt with the topic in its July 13, 2007, segment, “God Not Guns,” about the role of religious groups in the debate.
- Read an April 20, 2007, Catholic News Service story, “Solution to campus violence much more than gun control, experts say,” with reflections from Catholic experts in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings.
- Read the transcript of a July 23, 2004, Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly program, “Utah Gun Laws and the Church,” about a state law allowing concealed weapons in churches.
- The New York Times maintains a Times Topics page on gun control.
- Eugene V. Gallagher is a professor of religious studies at Connecticut College in New London. He specializes in issues relating to religion and violence and wrote the entry “Law Enforcement and Religious Groups” for the 2003 Encyclopedia of Religious Freedom. Contact 860-439-2169, email@example.com.
- Bryan Hehir is the Parker Gilbert Montgomery Professor of the Practice of Religion and Public Life at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is an expert on religion and American society. Contact 617-384-7776, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- James E. Atwood is a retired Presbyterian pastor, a gun owner and the author of America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose (2012). Atwood lives in Springfield, Va., and serves as chairman of Heeding God’s Call of Greater Washington, an ecumenical movement that encourages gun shops to adopt a code of conduct that deters illegal purchasing and the trafficking of handguns. Contact 703-569-0046.
- Michael Boylan is a philosophy professor at Marymount University in Arlington, Va., who has written about ethical perspectives on gun control. Contact 703-284-1558, email@example.com.
- James Kelly is associate professor of social work and director of the Grace Ann Geibel Institute for Justice and Social Responsibility at Carlow University, a small Catholic liberal arts school in Pittsburgh. In a story after the Virginia Tech shooting, he told Catholic News Service that for most people, gun violence has still “not risen to the level of social problem that requires a universal approach.” Contact 412-578-8853, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Jon Pahl is professor of the history of Christianity in North America at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and author of Empire of Sacrifice: The Religious Origins of American Violence (2010). Contact 610-909-7107, email@example.com.
- Mark Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. In a July 23, 2012, blog post, he says that Christian pacifism “is increasingly popular among many evangelical elites, especially in academia,” but that it “has no practical application for believers striving to be faithful in the real world.” Contact 202-682-4131, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- W. Clyde Wilcox is a professor of American government at Georgetown University and an expert on conservative Christian politics and culture. He has written about the nexis of certain strains of evangelicalism and gun ownership. He also co-edited the 1998 book, The Changing Politics of Gun Control. Contact 202-687-5273, email@example.com.
- The Rev. George Clifford is an Episcopal priest and ethicist serving at the Church of the Nativity in Raleigh, N.C. He has blogged about gun control. Contact 919-846-8338, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- John K. Cochran is a professor of criminology at the University of South Florida in Tampa and has written widely on religion and crime. Contact 813-974-9569, email@example.com.
- David P. Gushee is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University in Atlanta. His Jan. 17, 2011, column for the Associated Baptist Press is titled “Another gun massacre? Let’s buy more guns!” Contact 678-547-6457, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Hugh LaFollette holds the Cole Chair in Ethics at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg. He wrote journal articles in 2000 and 2001 on the ethics of gun control. Contact 727-873-4830, email@example.com.
- Bill Leonard is James and Marilyn Dunn Professor of Church History and Baptist Studies at Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, N.C. In a column posted Aug. 2, 2012, by the Associated Baptist Press, he asks, “How can churches minister in a society unwilling to give up its guns?” Another column, which appeared in March 2011, recounts the history of guns in churches — hardly a new phenomenon, he says — and discusses what churches should consider doing about it. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Russell D. Moore is a Christian ethicist and dean of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. He has said that expanding the “pro-life” fight to include gun control risks dividing the anti-abortion movement. He further explained his views in a July 24, 2012, blog post. Contact email@example.com.
- Catherine Wessinger is a professor of religious studies at Loyola University in New Orleans. Wessinger writes about religion and violence with an emphasis on the troubled history between new religious movements and law enforcement. Contact 504-865-3182, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Ben Witherington is Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky. Read his July 21, 2012, essay, “The Aurora Debacle,” at Patheos.com and a blog post he wrote after the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, “Christians and gun control: An idea whose time has come?” Contact email@example.com.
- Dwight N. Hopkins is a theology professor at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School. His specialization is in African-American and liberation theology. He wrote a 1996 article for The Quarterly Review titled “Guns, Violence and the Church: Structural Analysis & Prophetic Church Witness.” Contact 773-834-0006, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Timothy Hall is an associate professor of philosophy at Oberlin College & Conservatory in Oberlin, Ohio. He teaches a variety of ethics courses, and his research interests include the applied ethics of gun control. Contact 440-775-8393, email@example.com.
- David Kratz Mathies is an assistant professor of philosophy and religion at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. He teaches an ethics course in which students examine and debate contemporary moral issues, including gun control. Contact 816-271-4579, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- J. Budziszewski is a professor of philosophy and government at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Evangelicals in the Public Square: Four Formative Voices on Political Thought and Action. Contact 512-232-7229, email@example.com.
- Byron R. Johnson is a professor of sociology at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, who has written widely on the relationship between religion and criminal behavior. He is the author of the entry “The Role of Religious Institutions in Responding to Crime and Delinquency” in The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion. Contact 254-710-7555, Byron_Johnson@baylor.edu.
- Don Lindley is an assistant professor of criminology at Jesuit-run Regis University in Denver and was a member of the Denver Police Department for 33 years. Contact 303-458-4928, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Ted G. Jelen is a political science professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and an expert on Christians in politics and the cultural attitudes of believers on issues of violence and gun control. Jelen wrote an essay, “The Electoral Politics of Gun Ownership,” for the 1998 book The Changing Politics of Gun Control. Contact 702-895-3355, email@example.com.
- Franklin E. Zimring is William G. Simon Professor of Law and Wolfen Distinguished Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, Law School. He specializes in issues of criminology, violence and family law. Contact 510-642-0854, firstname.lastname@example.org.