CJH: Gun Control Is a Pro-Life Value

Millennial co-founder Christopher Hale has a new article at Time. He writes:

The Catholic Church’s advocacy against the U.S.’ inane gun laws has caught the attention of the gun lobby. In 2012, the American bishops’ modest work on the issue frustrated the National Rifle Association so much that they listed the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on its enemies list.

Why are many Christians for stronger gun laws?

The reason is simple: Christians are pro-life. We are called by God to protect, defend and develop life at all stages—from conception on. And with more than 30,000 gun-related deaths in the U.S. every year, our nation’s gun violence is an affront to these pro-life values.

The Bible commands us again and again to say “yes” to life and “no” to death. Does this involve stopping the proliferation of deadly weapons? Absolutely. The prophet Isaiah even tells us that when the messiah enters into human history, he will “beat spears and swords into ploughshares and pruning hooks.”

The full article can be read here.



It Is Time to Confront the Problem of Gun Violence

President Obama became emotional today as he talked about the costs of our nation’s radically libertarian approach to gun rights to the other rights we value as Americans:

The White House and the have President outlined a package of executive actions that are designed to reduce gun violence:

The package…includes 10 separate provisions, White House officials said. One key provision would require more gun sellers — especially those who do business on the Internet and at gun shows — to be licensed and would force them to conduct background checks on potential buyers. Obama would devote $500 million more in federal funds to treating mental illness — a move that could require congressional approval — and require that firearms lost in transit between a manufacturer and a seller be reported to federal authorities.

At the president’s direction, the FBI will begin hiring more than 230 additional examiners and other personnel to help process new background checks 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Also, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has established a new investigation center to keep track of illegal gun trafficking online and will devote $4 million and additional personnel to enhance the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network.

President Obama is right: Americans need to stand up for sensible gun control. Pope Francis put it best, “Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem.”

Guns in America: Ideology or Idolatry?

Guns take a life every 16 minutes in the United States—92 lives every day. In a compelling op-ed for The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof argues that the time has come to address gun violence in response to a public health crisis.

Gun rights activists will quickly retort that guns ensure greater safety and that placing restrictions on gun ownership will only result in fewer innocent civilians being able to defend themselves. In fact, a recent Gallup poll found this to be the overwhelming reason Americans own guns (60% of respondents said personal safety or protection, compared to 36% for hunting and 5% because of the Second Amendment, for example). Even though it is widely claimed that guns keep millions of Americans safe and prevent crime (as touted by the NRA, Gun Owners of America, and conservative politicians), the facts don’t actually substantiate this belief (which you can read about here or here or here, for example). Read More

Most Popular Guest Posts in 2013

One of the reasons we created Millennial was because we were concerned that millennial Catholics did not have adequate forums in which to express their ideas on religion, politics, and culture. In particular, we felt that those who were both pro-life and pro-social justice, shaped by the personalist and communitarian principles of Catholic teaching, were too often excluded by those seeking to maintain ideological purity or advance a partisan agenda. In creating Millennial, we hoped to provide a forum to fill that gap and hoped that this would be done not only by recruiting a great set of writers but also by having a very open submission policy that welcomed millennial Catholic authors from a wide range of backgrounds. We had a great set of guest submissions in 2013, which can be viewed here. We hope to add even more voices in 2014, so if you have something to say and are willing to say it in a thoughtful, nuanced way, we encourage you to submit a post or idea today. Without further ado, here are the five most popular guest posts of 2013:

5. Liberty, Idolatry, and the Culture of Violence by Christiana Z. Peppard: “The idolatry of liberty—of rights unfettered from social responsibilities—is cancerous. In our culture of violence, it is at least partly fed by hyper-permissive interpretations of the second amendment. And we are too strapped to guns and gurneys for any of this to be even bleakly funny. If the body politic is to survive, the cancer requires surgery. Rethinking the contemporary stipulations of the second amendment seems as good a place to start as any.”

4. All Catholic Bishops Must Act on Medicaid Expansion by Ryan Casey: “Join me also in my hope that our Catholic clergy lead their flocks by embodying the social gospel that lies at the very heart of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, who did not just talk about compassion, but showed it; did not just teach us about love, but was it; and did not just preach about taking care of the least among us, but did it.  Will we as Catholics follow in the footsteps of Christ our Lord through our actions?”

3. Waging War on Porn: Trial and Triumph at our Finger Tips by Matt Aujero: “Our generation has been given the opportunity to grow up and explore the Internet, a tool that gives us unprecedented access to knowledge, but it has also given us an equally unprecedented set of temptations if we leave ourselves to our own devices… This is not just a personal battle; this is our collective battle.”

2. Letter to a “Conservative” Catholic by Rebecca Sharbaugh: “I promise to balance the emphases of my faith with yours by truly listening to what you have to say.  I promise to never demean the beautiful ways you serve God just because they are different than the ways I choose to serve God. And most of all, I promise that I believe the Church is better with you in it than it would be without you.”

1. The Danger of Pope Francis by Jonathan Lewis: “The danger of Pope Francis is no different than the danger that comes with the rise in popularity of any other figure, though it is magnified when the person happens to be the most talked-about person in the world: when we agree with someone, we are rarely moved to grow or change. The life of a Christian disciple requires growth and change. A God that does not make us uncomfortable is no god at all.”

Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

Pope Francis the troublemaker by Michael Gerson: “Over the millennia, this strain of impatience with legalism has provided Christianity with an advantage. When the church becomes ossified, legalistic and hypocritical — as all institutions periodically do — it is the radical reformers who carry on its most authentic tradition.”

Reflections on the Jesuit Interview with Pope Francis by Steve Schneck: “Pope Francis overwhelms us. He sweeps away barricades that twenty years of culture war have thrown up between Catholics. The canned worldviews into which so many of us have hunkered down – the ideologies of right and left – just melt away with this guy.”

Pope Francis’ New Balance by R.R. Reno: “Pope Francis encourages a more balanced view of our present circumstances. Yes, some bad, very bad dimensions. But also some good, very good dimensions. We’re to navigate judiciously, neither condemning broadly, nor naively affirming the status quo. This balance is needed.”

Subsidizing Farmers But Not the Poor Still Evil by Jonathan Chait: “Is the ‘work requirement’ they plan to impose on food stamps like welfare reform? There are three highly salient differences. Welfare benefits were specifically designed in a way, dating from their origin as a replacement for a male breadwinner, that discouraged work. Second, welfare reform had funds for jobs and training programs. Third, it was passed in a full employment economy.”

Me? A Neo-con? by Michael Sean Winters: “Our fellow men and women on this planet are not pawns in a game of real politique. Their needs cannot be ignored behind a curtain of isolationist exhaustion. The world still needs to aspire to create regimes that are built on liberal principles of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear.”

Caritas by Cardinal Donald Wuerl: “All human community is rooted in God’s plan that brings us into ever-widening circles of relationship – first with our parents, then our family, the Church, and finally a variety of community experiences.  We cannot find fulfillment unless we have some community with others, a community in which we serve and are served, love and are loved.”

50-Year Sentence Upheld for Ex-President of Liberia by NY Times: “An international panel of appeals judges unanimously upheld a 50-year prison sentence on Thursday given to Charles G. Taylor, the former president of Liberia, for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in a case cast as a watershed for modern human rights law.”

Children and Guns: The Hidden Toll by NY Times: “Children shot accidentally — usually by other children — are collateral casualties of the accessibility of guns in America, their deaths all the more devastating for being eminently preventable. They die in the households of police officers and drug dealers, in broken homes and close-knit families, on rural farms and in city apartments. Some adults whose guns were used had tried to store them safely; others were grossly negligent. Still others pulled the trigger themselves, accidentally fracturing their own families while cleaning a pistol or hunting. And there are far more of these innocent victims than official records show.”

US Bishops: Gun Control is a Pro-Life Issue, Now is the Time to Act

Last year Father James Martin, SJ put forward the argument that gun control is a religious issue and “as much of a ‘life issue’ or a ‘pro-life issue,’ as some religious people say, as is abortion, euthanasia or the death penalty (all of which I am against), and programs that provide the poor with the same access to basic human needs as the wealthy (which I am for).”  He noted, “There is a ‘consistent ethic of life’ that views all these issues as linked, because they are.”

The US Bishops have now affirmed this view.  In the Washington Post, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, Director of Media Relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, identified the issue of gun control as a pro-life issue, relating it to abortion and the death penalty

Walsh indicated that the massacre in Newtown was decisive, saying, “And surely, after the gunning down of primary grade children in Newtown, Connecticut, it is clear assault weapons stand out dramatically as a threat to innocent life.”

The Bishops are now supporting numerous gun control measures:

The U.S. bishops now call on people to support federal legislation to require background checks for all gun purchases, to limit civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines and to make gun trafficking a federal crime. The bishops also want a ban on assault weapons.

For those of us who identify as pro-life and support gun control, this is a key moment.  Being pro-life is about a consistent commitment to life, just as Fr. Jim said, and this recognition of gun control as a pro-life issue shows the Bishops’ ‘whole life’ commitment.  Bravo!