As published in Huffington Post:
A small group of evangelical Christian leaders is hoping to promote stricter gun legislation by injecting a key element of conservative Christian theology into the conversation ― the principle of protecting life at all stages.
In the wake of a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last week that left 17 people dead, the group has put forward a petition that uses the language of the anti-abortion movement to encourage fellow Christians to fight for gun reform.
The signers claim it’s their “Biblical responsibility” to urge America’s lawmakers to pass common-sense gun legislation that will “protect life.” Though the meaning of “common-sense” varies for individuals in the group, they’re generally looking for tighter background checks, ensuring that certain high-risk individuals are prohibited from purchasing firearms, and potentially banning certain high-capacity and semi-automatic weapons.
The petition has the backing of at least 16 evangelical leaders, including Max Lucado, the best-selling Christian author, Lynne Hybels, co-founder of the Illinois megachurch Willow Creek Community Church, and Rev. Dr. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition.
Because of his background as a militant anti-abortion activist, Schenck is a controversial figure in progressive circles. Some have questioned his commitment to gun control, given his past statements and lifetime membership in the National Rifle Association ― which Schenck justifies by saying it was a gift from a financial supporter of his ministry and something he uses to “listen and learn” about the ideologies of those involved in popular gun culture.
But he says he’s modified his stance on gun legislation and become an ally in the fight for stricter gun laws. For years, he’s tried to encourage his faith community to break from its longstanding support of gun rights.
It’s a difficult task, but Schenck is optimistic. “I believe there is a change happening among evangelicals,” the preacher told HuffPost. “We will see a tipping point when many evangelicals will begin advocating for sensible gun safety measures.”