Religion Roundtable

We should not live by the sword

On the night Jesus was arrested, one of his last teachings to his disciples was to not live by the sword lest they, too, wished to die by the sword.

Today, followers of the Prince of Peace would do well to extrapolate his meaning to speak in favor of peace and against the weapons of violence in our own day.

We have a problem with guns the magnitude of which no other developed nation wrestles. Without adequate background checks and the ability to keep persons with mental struggles from getting guns, we have failed to responsibly regulate gun ownership.

We have made an idol of guns in the same manner Jesus’ earliest followers were tempted to make of using swords against one another, believing that it is better (and safer) for there to be more guns than less.

We’ve castigated those who need mental support and ostracized them from families and communities while cutting the monies for that support from federal and state budgets.

The church of today, as with every age, is called to speak truth to power, to work to increase peace and love, and to stand with those who are the “least of these” in every time and place.

In this moment, it is crucial for the Church to come together to work for an end to violence and to challenge legal systems that allow for unfettered access to the weapons of war, while removing the stigma of therapeutic remedies for those who desperately need them.

— The Rev. Dr. James D. McLeod Jr., First Presbyterian Church, Anniston

The Bible is a ‘what not to do’ manual

Perhaps the question should read, “How should people of faith respond to gun violence?”

I am not well informed enough to speak for anyone but myself when it comes to a religious perspective.

Frankly, I would like to believe that religion, if it is perceived to be dogmatic and uncompromising, has nothing to do with any of my foundational beliefs or decision-making process. Unless, of course, one describes religion as scholar Kenneth Kramer does: “Religions are those things involving personal, communal experiences of sacred mystery and expressions of ultimate meaning, value and truth.”

As a spirit-filled believer, I believe that my decisions are informed by prayer, Scripture and the indwelling power of Holy Spirit. But now we have another question: “How can the Bible inform anyone to advocate against violence when it is an inherently violent book?”

Read carefully and you will discover it is also a “what not to do” manual. Violent actions toward humanity, whether gun-related or systematic manipulation of power by those who have it to abuse, molest, rape, intimidate or in any way, by any means, force an individual or people group to yield to their demands, should be stopped. as That is my personal, faith-based response to this question, as a human being who would like to see gun violence against other human beings stopped.

— Beverly Mattox, Word Alive International Outreach