Mainline Protestants and other ecumenical religious groups are using a range of strategies to fight for gun control, writes David A. Graham in The Atlantic (February).
“A coalition of mainline Protestant denominations, the Catholic Church, and Jewish and Muslim leaders are now among the staunchest institutional backers of stricter gun control,” he adds. Some of the gun control initiatives profiled in the article are based in prominent mainline congregations, such as New York’s Trinity Church and Washington’s National Cathedral.
In a bid to heighten its activist stance, Trinity Church is using its small amount of stock in Walmart to pressure the chain to discontinue its sales of guns—even suing the company in the process (and is now pending in the courts). The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops backs a ban on assault rifles, stronger background checks and limitations on high-capacity magazines. Both the Islamic Society of North America and the Union of Reform Judaism support stricter gun laws.
Other mainline denominations, such as the United Methodists, Presbyterians and Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, have likewise issued statements in support of gun control. While these churches’ leaderships are more uniform in their views than that of their congregations, surveys show that, unlike other social issues, the majority of members support such policies.
This is in contrast to white evangelicals who are more divided on the issue. A survey of leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals showed three-fourths support stricter gun control, while 38 percent of evangelicals as a whole support such measures. Graham concludes, “American faith communities remain the most steadfast institutional supporters of gun control.” Whether that translates into material success at the national level remains to be seen.