100 Pastors Call for End to Gun Violence: 'God Is Calling Us to Stop This Downward Spiral'

Police officers conduct a manhunt after a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California December 2, 2015. Gunmen opened fire on a holiday party on Wednesday at a social services agency in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 people and wounding 17 others, then fled the scene, triggering an intense manhunt and a shootoutout with police, authorities said. |

Over 100 pastors have signed a petition calling on Americans to unite against gun violence this upcoming year, suggesting that following "the way of the cross" means giving up firearms as a means of self-defense.

The "Advent Declaration on Gun Violence" was created after pastors from across the country convened on Dec. 10 to discuss the future of gun safety in the U.S.

According to the petition, this meeting brought pastors together in agreement that gun violence is "a particular cultural issue woven into our American society that is contrary to the Gospel."

"There is something seriously wrong with our way of life if we tolerate violence in our society. We believe God is calling us to stop this accelerating, downward spiral of destruction. There is an urgent need for followers of the Prince of Peace to challenge the easy use of guns in our society," the petition adds.

The petition then calls on Christians across the country to unite in support achieving justice through nonviolent measures.

Some of the demands outlined in the petition include ending the use of firearms for self-defense, working with law enforcement to diminish gun violence, and responding with love for those who continue to inflict or advocate violence.

"We obey Jesus' simple strategies of love: refusing to hate in return, unilaterally forgiving those who harm us, doing good to people who oppose us, and continually praying for God to bless all people, even those who treat us as enemies," the petition adds.

The petition comes after multiple mass shootings in the U.S. in 2015, including a recent terror-inspired attack in San Bernardino, California, that left 14 dead and 17 injured.

The Rev. Robert Schenck, an Evangelical pro-life activist based in Washington, D.C., recently told The Washington Post that he believes Christians need to be more vocal in their opposition to gun violence.

"Pastors and the Church as a whole should be speaking very loudly into legislation on guns, especially on the state level," Schenck told the media outlet. "Our voices are conspicuously absent from the discussion and the debate."

Other Evangelical leaders have responded differently to the gun debate being waged in the U.S., including Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, who recently lifted a ban on students 21 years of age and older carrying concealed weapons in their dorm rooms in an effort to increase campus safety.

"I take very seriously my responsibility to keep you safe in an increasingly dangerous world," Falwell said in a statement that came shortly after the San Bernardino terror attack.

A poll from the National Association of Evangelicals taken in 2013 found that 73 percent of church leaders in the U.S. agree that there needs to be stricter gun laws in the country. The poll was taken following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut that left 26 dead.

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