- (Photo: CNN)
Major evangelical leaders recently announced their support for universal background checks for all firearms purchases in America.
The Rev. Franklin Graham, president of the Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse and Dr. Richard Land, outgoing head of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, stated this in interviews with Time Magazine.
"As ministers, we agreed together that we could stand on a united front for universal background checks … We think that's reasonable and responsible," said Graham.
"There are millions of people that we can mobilize behind something like this, but it takes leadership from the White House."
"We're not going to oppose universal background checks – it's a nice idea but only law-abiding citizens follow that," said Land. "The more the president can make this a multi-pronged [effort] the more support he's going to receive from evangelicals."
Both evangelical leaders agreed that in addition to background checks other efforts, such as holding the entertainment industry accountable for violent content and reforming the mental health care, are needed.
The remarks of Graham and Land come as the Washington National Cathedral is preparing for a series of events meant to spread awareness about the cost of gun violence.
Titled "National Gun Violence Sabbath," the events will take place March 14-17 and will be live streamed on the National Cathedral's website.
According to a February statement from the National Cathedral, the event is organized with the support of the group Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence.
"This is a critical moment in the life of our nation. The faith community has seen the tragic results of inaction, and we cannot stand by any longer," said the Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the cathedral, in a statement.
"No one should be at risk from gun violence in a schoolroom, in the workplace, on our city streets, at a shopping mall, a movie theater – or anywhere else. This weekend of programs offers time to reflect, unite, and act to curb the epidemic of gun violence in our midst."
While the background checks proposal gains support from both ends of the Christian theological spectrum, the idea still has its critics.
Wayne LaPierre, CEO for the National Rifle Association, spoke at the Western Hunting & Conservation Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah, and called universal background checks "the heart of [the] anti-gun agenda."
"This is not universal background checks. This is universal registration of your firearms. Imagine right now your name on a massive government list," said LaPierre.
"How safe do you think that government list will be? Think it's secure? Well, WikiLeaks had no trouble tapping into secret government computers. China hacked into Pentagon computers."