Jesus wouldn’t join the NRA

October 30, 2015
Customers view semi automatic guns on display at a gun shop in Los Angeles California

Customers view semi automatic guns on display at a gun shop in Los Angeles, California, December 19, 2012. REUTERS/Gene Blevins

Polls show that 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks for gun buyers, yet a bill mandating this died in the Senate. Evangelical Christians, however, may well be the key to shifting America’s broken political dynamic around gun rights.

Right now, white evangelical Protestants are the group most likely to oppose stricter gun- control laws. They stand out as one of the few constituencies where a strong pro-life identity is tied to attitudes against any restrictions on gun ownership. Evangelicals are also one of the strongest constituencies of support for the National Rifle Association.

Yet the NRA, which has been vigilant in advancing expansive gun-ownership policies, including broader concealed-carry rights, has been accused by its critics of having a casual disregard for the sanctity of human life. A brief stroll through its direct mail and advertising, listening to the language of its most prominent spokespeople and seeing the laws it promotes could bear this assertion out. Meanwhile, the proliferation of  “stand your ground” laws, which relieve citizens of the obligation to exhaust all options before shooting in self-defense, sounds like an inversion of basic Christian teachings about loving every human being, including, and most especially, those who would harm you.


Rob Schenck sitting in church in a still from “The Armor of Light.” FORK FILMS/Jeff Hutchens

The close relationship between evangelicals and the NRA does not go back far. As recently as the Korean War in the early 1950s and the Vietnam War in the 1960s, many evangelicals said they were pacifists and registered as conscientious objectors.

But during the 1980s, the NRA moved strategically to exploit the nascent relationship between American conservatism and evangelicalism. It played to the fact that evangelicals saw much of their own cultural value system reflected in the narrative of traditional American values. They saw their belief in independent individualism embodied in the rock-ribbed, self-sufficient American gun owner, as described by the NRA.

It did not take long for the NRA and evangelicals to begin to strongly identify with one another. The similar demographics of both groups show the depth of this identification.

I’vet spent most of the past two years making a documentary about a leading evangelical Christian minister who is strongly questioning the close ties between his religion and the NRA. The Armor of Light shows how Rob Schenck, who operates an influential ministry on Capitol Hill in Washington, has begun asking whether pro-life Christians can also be pro-gun. In doing so, Schenck finds himself increasingly alone — way out on a political limb.


Rob Schenck preaching in a still from “The Armor of Light.” FORK FILMS/Jeff Hutchens

Yet this is where the greatest possibility for a change in the political dynamics of gun culture lies. If even a small percentage of those who claim a dynamic association with the life and teaching of the Jesus Christ who gave us the Sermon on the Mount start talking about the contradictory language and ethics of evangelicals and the NRA, a powerful shift could occur. This could alter the discourse among families and in media, shift the attitudes of men and women in public places where guns have become increasingly welcome. Perhaps most important, it could lead to a shift in the behavior and expectations of a community known for reliable turnout at the ballot box.

For decades, a rigid and paralytic political dynamic has been ascendant in this country, and the only way forward is to alter the behavior of the forces in conflict with each other — to find a different lever point for change.  That lever point could turn out to be an evangelical Christian community fully reawakened to the fundamental tenets of its own creed.

As Schenck demonstrates in the film, if evangelicals can come together in open dialogue, fully informed by the Bible in which they believe, many might well conclude that the logic of unfettered gun rights is incompatible with a life dedicated to following the example of the Prince of Peace.

To match feature USA-GUNS/COLLECTORS

A customer browses for guns at the Cabela’s store in Fort Worth, Texas, March 7, 2008. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

“I’m concerned about the NRA promoting the idea that the best way to solve the most vexing problems in our society is to be prepared to shoot people dead,” Schenck said at a meeting of the Evangelical Church Alliance. “That doesn’t sit well with me as a Christian moral vision.” He continued: “When we champion the Second Amendment over and above the word of God, then we must be very careful that in respecting the Second Amendment we don’t violate the Second Commandment.”

When the call of conscience trumps habit and history, surprising things can happen. From Jim Crow to women’s suffrage, it is only when men and women have brought their higher selves into the political realm that we have seen systems radically change.

It might not be as hard as we fear.


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You cannot expect evangelicals to think logically when they believe the Bible is a historical or scientific document, and not just a religious document.

Posted by Flash1022 | Report as abusive

good article. The 2nd Amendment is in contrast with the 6th Commandment, not the 2nd Commandment, although you could consider that the NRA does Idolize Charleston Heston. Turn the Right Cheek…is what Jesus preached. America’s fascination with guns in video games also needs to be checked. Violence in the mind eventually manifests itself in reality.

Posted by miketvee | Report as abusive

350 million guns. 30,000 deaths a year here from them (Ten 9/11’s every year)…. and the NRA says that’s still not enough. They want more. To keep us safe :)

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

I don’t know why the history channel did a segment on the Bible. Guess they just made up all those events…

Posted by 2logical | Report as abusive

350 million guns.30,000 deaths a year here from them and the NRA says that’s still not enough.I’m going to lose myself!!!!Strange!
Thanks Mr.Abigail for sharing this post.
Helen F.
vibration analysis branch,Albany.

Posted by helenfeona | Report as abusive

Flash 1022 – your numbers are way off. There are 8,000 gun deaths annually and the vast majority involved alcohol. Ban alcohol to reduce the murder rate. Oh wait that didn’t work either.

Posted by DLNY | Report as abusive

Jesus would not have joined the NRa and he would not have joined the Democratic party either so your point is?

Trash talking in Jesus’ name is the lowest form of demagoguery. Jesus was well known to support the rights of his followers to defend themselves.

Posted by DLNY | Report as abusive

This Schenck fellow seems to have confused Christianity with pacifism. Working to ban effective self defense is the height of insidious stupidity and is anything but Christian. Unfortunately, (and contrary to what the media would have you believe) mainstream “Christian” denominations are rife with these types of “ministers/pastors/clergymen” whose only legacy will be that they sought to institutionalize weakness in Christianity. Predictably, their “Christianity as weakness” heresy is failing miserably as regular church membership and attendance figures fall each year. Unfortunately, heathen religions like Asatru are filling the void, as these value strength, honor, and the ability to protect your tribe/family.

Posted by Ragnar_Redbeard | Report as abusive

“he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one”
Luke 22:36

Posted by angie_33 | Report as abusive

Jesus wasn’t terribly concerned with earthly things so He probably wouldn’t have joined the NRA. He didn’t really join anything.

One organization that probably would have found Him flipping over the tables and breaking out a whip is Planned Parenthood. It’s inarguable, really, that He would be infuriated by the wanton slaughter of the least among us. After all, He did say “Whatsoever you do to the least of My brothers, that you do unto Me.”

You’re a vocal supporter of Planned Parenthood, aren’t you, Ms. Disney?

Spare us your sermonizing.

Posted by Pablo_1791 | Report as abusive


I did not post that!

You better put down your gun, or you might shoot the wrong person.

Posted by Flash1022 | Report as abusive

Full Automatic weapons do belong into the military and law enforcement
only… can’t use the excuse i only like to hunt with these firearms…as an avid hunter that is but a lame excuse to have this macho piece … and if one really cares to be protected there is NOTHINg more intimidating to the intruder than the muscle of a shotgun pointing at you…..because even a drug addict will stop short……..

Posted by Erzherzog | Report as abusive

“Jesus was well known to support the rights of his followers to defend themselves.”

Sorry, I seem to remember his instructions on this was to turn the other cheek.

Posted by Calvin2k | Report as abusive

How strange to see comments that Jesus supported the right to self-defense. People have been listening to the talking points of radio talk-shows. If they are Christians as they claim to be they should read the teachings of Jesus who made a clean break with the Old Testament rules and said “But I give you a new commandment, to love one another” and “love your neighbor as yourself”. His entire teaching was about love. Man you better read your Bible for yourself and not just take someone else’s talking points.

Posted by elderberrynut | Report as abusive

solidar, there are 400 million guns, US civilian guns went from an estimated 300 million in 1993 to 400 million today. Meanwhile Us gun murder and fatal accident rate dropped over 60% since then. Of your 30,000 some 20,000 are suicide. As we know from Australia, gun suicide dropped with the confiscation scheme Hillary says she likes, but non-gun suicide rose proportionately showing a full substitution effect. Methods/ implements have nothing to do with suicide rates, they are not casual.

Posted by DavidD | Report as abusive

jesus is nra, he told his followers to sell their cloths in order to by swords, he was preparing for a revolution against roman tyranny.

Posted by yousefgh | Report as abusive

This must have been written by some young squirt who has no knowledge of history. Seriously, you state: ” As far back as the Korean War in the early 1950s and the Vietnam War in the 1960s, many evangelicals said they were pacifists and registered as conscientious objectors.” FYI, many non evangelicals also said they were pacifists and conscientious objectors also, while they also smoked pot, did drugs, and committed almost every other sin imaginable. The vast majority of conscientious objectors weren’t evangelical, they were cowards. That’s not to say that some weren’t, but they usually went to war and became medics.
The author of this article has no credibility. The fact is that the original NRA was predominately Christians, much more so than today. I’d like to see the facts that show otherwise. The truth is that if Jesus was alive today, he wouldn’t join the NRA, he’d spite down the criminals. Seriously, what a stupid commentary.

Posted by Wingerjr | Report as abusive

So how does one equate the belief that killing an innocent unborn baby in the womb and the belief that this is wrong then means that one should not believe that we should be able to protect ourselves by owning a gun? I wonder if there is a way the innocent unborn baby could get a conceal carry permit? That would balance things out a bit.

Posted by RudyB | Report as abusive

So if we substitute abortionists every time NRA is used, and Feminists every place evangelicals is used, what would all you Libtards have to say about the article?

Posted by bboelter | Report as abusive

Luke 22

35Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you out to preach the Good News and you did not have money, a traveler’s bag, or an extra pair of sandals, did you need anything?”

“No,” they replied.

36“But now,” he said, “take your money and a traveler’s bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! 37For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.’d Yes, everything written about me by the prophets will come true.”

38“Look, Lord,” they replied, “we have two swords among us.”

“That’s enough,” he said.

Posted by Dumpkin | Report as abusive

But Judas would. Look up the roots of Iscariot.

Posted by bwilem | Report as abusive

For shame, Reuters. You guys are supposed to report the news, not give an outlet to politically-motivated fascists such as Abigail Disney.

Well, I guess there’s still the AP.

Posted by pod_re | Report as abusive

Keeping in mind all that religion is nothing but good old crapola filling some peoples heads.

Posted by rodent | Report as abusive

Someone tell Ms. Disney that even the Amish own guns including handguns. I know this information runs counter to what many think about Amish people but I grew up with them in north Missouri. They don’t own military pattern rifles or police issue handguns however they certainly do keep revolvers.

Posted by eZachLeeWright | Report as abusive

In 2010 Washington DC had the most extreme gun control in America. They also had twenty seven times more murders than the slightly larger city of El Paso (source: FBI Crime Report). BTW, El Paso is a place where every responsible adult citizen can carry a loaded, concealed handgun on her person as she goes about her day. After adjusting for population differences, Chicago’s murder rate was nineteen times higher than El Paso’s. If Ms. Disney thinks the NRA is wrong to support the “right of the people” to defend themselves, she needs to answer one question: Does Jesus think more of the people of El Paso or DC?

Posted by eZachLeeWright | Report as abusive

Calvin2K – I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t wouldn’t encourage you to turn the other cheek if the lives of your family were on the line, e.g. home robbery.

Posted by eZachLeeWright | Report as abusive

A Disney peddling her movie…… surprise.

Posted by euro-yank | Report as abusive

News flash

Jesus would not be a Marxist today

He’d be a Libertarian

Because he believed in a little thing called “free-will”. That’s something you loons haven’t a clue about.

Posted by Minarchian | Report as abusive

“Polls show that 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks for gun buyers, yet a bill mandating this died in the Senate.”

The first sentence in your article is really nothing but an irrational claim presented by gun control nuts that excel in their attempts to lie using statistics. The article goes downhill from there.

Posted by Les_ | Report as abusive

rooters this article is from a complete jack@$$

Posted by willford | Report as abusive

Jesus doesn’t need the NRA. He can damn you with a glance.

Posted by Shootist | Report as abusive

“Sell your cloak, buy a sword” – Jesus ..

Posted by Immykal | Report as abusive

I hope Ms. Disney paid for this advertisement.

Posted by BobWhite2000 | Report as abusive

Jesus would have encouraged his members to join the NRA and the Union Army to destroy the democrat supporting Confederate Army. Jesus would have encouraged his church members to join the NRA in order to save his church from being burned to the ground by the democrat party KKK. Jesus would have encouraged Civil Rights workers to join the NRA so they wouldn’t be hanged by the democrat party night riders.

Posted by anamericanxxxx | Report as abusive

Why do my comments never get posted and ad hominem comments are?

Posted by RudyB | Report as abusive

Isn’t trust fund money wonderful.

Posted by ARJTurgot2 | Report as abusive

The fact is that the NRA is a national organization that has done more for the safe use of firearms than any other organization in the US. It is the primary training organization in the country for both the civilians and police. You will just not find a firearms trainer that does not have NRA certification.
As far as their view on the value of life, my opinion, is that they are more concerned about the “good guy” that is attacked than the criminal. And, I am for that attitude.
Just as they are for “all citizens” being able to protect themselves, I am also for that goal. It does not matter if they are rich, poor, white, black or other, male or female, all citizens have the right of self defense. Most that believe in God, feel that right is God given.
What the article also shows, is that people from places where “government controls everything” like DC, do not have the cultural context to understand the concept.

Posted by TexTopCat2 | Report as abusive

Jesus would not join anything… including churches… he was his own man.

Posted by maggie1367 | Report as abusive

The 12 disciples carried the technological weapon of its day-the short sword. You must not be provy to anything the Bible says and only continue the liberal mantra of putting words in Jeses mouth like the lie Jesus approved of homosexuality. “Let those of you who do not own a sword sell your cloak and buy one”. Is this the best you idiots can do?

Posted by Snowdad | Report as abusive

Oct 30, 2015
4:27 pm UTC

350 million guns -nope. 30,000 deaths a year here from them (Ten 9/11′s every year)nope…. and the NRA says that’s still not enough nope. They want more nope. To keep us safe and nope :)
Posted by Solidar

sources, as you ask for. thought, as you demand. your liberal vitriole is getting really old.

none of what you said is ever correct, nor shared, nor backed up.
how many times have you been suspended for abuse, clearly not enough.
shut up….

Posted by operaghost | Report as abusive

“I’m concerned about the NRA promoting the idea that the best way to solve the most vexing problems in our society is to be prepared to shoot people dead,” – in interesting statement but wrong.
NRA or any person that legally carries a gun does not carry a gun to “shoot people dead”. In fact, we are prepared to STOP an attack on our safety. We never use deadly force when there are other options and never in anger. That is the very first lesson that every gun class teaches.
Also, the NRA is noted for its support for all people having civil rights, especially minorities and ordinary (non-rich) people.
This author needs to study the subject before making such unsupported arguments.

Posted by TexTopCat2 | Report as abusive

@operaghost: Are you going to cry?

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

Number of guns in U.S.  /wp/2015/10/05/guns-in-the-united-state s-one-for-every-man-woman-and-child-and- then-some/

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

Gun deaths per year by country. U.S. right around Honduras and Mexico on a per capita basis. Much higher on a gross deaths basis (30,000 per year). untries_by_firearm-related_death_rate

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

A survey in 2010 shows there are over 30,000 fatal injuries by firearms in the US every year. A survey in 2013 says there are over 60,000 non-fatal injuries from firearms every year in the US. Your lack of information and demand for sources has led me to find sources and prove you wrong. e Part1_Finished.jsp

Posted by HollisBassMasta | Report as abusive

I agree with you on how many fatal injuries there are a year from firearms, but using sources such as Wikipedia are not acceptable in most cases. Why? Well because of the fact that I could simply go on there and just change everything in a couple minutes. Wikipedia is good to find sources, but don’t use Wikipedia itself as a source. Also, your link to the Washington Post doesn’t work, so could you send another?

Posted by HollisBassMasta | Report as abusive

Another article on gun totals in the U.S. nership-by-the-numbers/

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

CDC source for gun deaths in the U.S. : 33,600 per year (so make that thirty-three 9/11’s per year). tm

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

Eleven 9/11’s per year rather. Time for me to drink some coffee :)

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive