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Pulpits not politics in reducing gun violence 

Parkland Florida Shooting
Crosses hanged at a fence near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida for the victims who lost their lives |

In the wake of the Texas and Ohio shootings, Fox News’ Dana Perino asked Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl Rove about legislation possibilities regarding firearms.

“I think in the aftermath of instances like we had—these terrible tragedies in Dayton and El Paso, people say, ‘Can we do better?’”  - Karl Rove, Fox New 8/8/2019

While most agree we can, the country remains fractured on how.  Those sprinting to the microphone espouse formulaic political agendas couched in the same message: “self-defense” or “society-defense.” Likewise, the halls of Congress and media all seem to echo the repeated and fatigued phrase, “We’ve got to pass a law!”

Laws clearly provided no restraint to the shooter in Philadelphia who shot six police officers.

While the argument ensues over which law to pass that guarantees bad and broken people surrender their weapons and emancipate society from bloodshed, there’s another path that could see faster results.

The Hartford Institute for Religion Research states an estimated 50+ million Americans attend one of the roughly 300,000 religious congregations in the United States. In those houses of worship, clergy engage a significant population linked to family and friends struggling with various and sometimes malevolent issues.

Statistically speaking, someone orbiting an impaired or hate-filled individual attends a church, temple, or mosque. Rather than waiting and debating over what to do, can we not appeal to our clergy who collectively interact and influence a massive number of citizens?

While politicians and pundits speak to and from green screens and platforms, pastors speak to families in dire circumstances.  Parents, siblings, spouses, or children struggling with the behavior of someone they love fill pews and kneeling benches across America. As their spiritual needs receive ministering, why not encourage clergy to quietly and privately ask if that loved one or a distressed caregiver has access to firearms?

Gentle guidance from a priest, pastor, rabbi, or cleric connects far greater than a politician running for office.

In 2008, a debate moderator asked two-term Governor, Mike Huckabee, why he felt qualified to run for President.  Governor Huckabee’s answered surprised many.  “As a pastor, I’ve had a front-row seat to virtually every social dynamic families encounter.”

He went on to relate ministering to families struggling with sickness, unemployment, disability, addiction, and death.

Politicians talk about all those things, but pastors touch them.

Clergy remain an important, but untapped resource in our country’s struggle with gun violence and hate.  Sometimes that violence enters the house of worship itself. Yet, congregants heroically return to pews and clergy bravely return to pulpits to stand for something greater.

In our houses of worship, the opportunity arises to not only communicate hope, but safety. If a firearm lies within reach of an impaired loved one, does the caregiver know how to safely and secure the weapon? If not, plenty of others do. Clergy (if unfamiliar themselves) can help connect the proper assistance.

Waiting on Washington to fix or even address issues is rarely timely. Special interests on both sides of this debate consistently wrangle while lives hang in the balance.

“Are the firearms secured?”  With that simple question, a Rabbi praying with a mother in despair over her addicted child can offer help immediately.  One small question, and a priest can help a caregiving husband seek counseling before taking a gun and doing the unthinkable to his wife, and then himself. With a caring and practical word,  a pastor can intercept a single mother at the breaking point with a special needs child. Right now, a caring clergy member can provide a path to safety for a family struggling with an out of control and rage-filled son. 

Elected officials answer to donors and often pander. Clergy answer to a higher authority. In the failure of political leadership, spiritual leadership can prevail—while providing  better model of caring for all of us.

One small question framed in compassion and wisdom, while collectively asked by an untapped cadre: “Are the firearms secured?” 

In the space of seconds, lives can be saved. Maybe more lives saved than by all the media’s outrage or a stack of laws from Congress.

“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.”  - Proverbs 27:12

Peter Rosenberger hosts a weekly radio program for family caregivers on American Family Radio and will be on Sirius XM’s Family Talk beginning 9/1/19.  He is the author Hope for the Caregiver. @hope4caregiver

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