Mourners inside the St Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church at a vigil service for victims
Religious leaders across the US have vowed to mobilise their congregants to push for gun control legislation and support politicians willing to take on the gun lobby, saying the time has come for action beyond praying for and comforting the families of those killed, reports the New York Times in the Muswellbrook Chronicle.
A group of clergy members representing mainline and evangelical Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims, plans to lead off their campaign in front of the Washington National Cathedral at an event today timed to mark the moment a week before, when Adam Lanza opened fire in Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut.
The cathedral will toll its funeral bell 28 times, once for each victim, including 20 children, six teachers and school administrators, and the mother of the killer, as well as Lanza, who killed himself.
"Everyone in this city seems to be in terror of the gun lobby, but I believe the gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby," Gary Hall, the dean of Washington National Cathedral, said in an impassioned sermon on Sunday that has served as a rallying cry for gun control. People in the cathedral's pews rose and applauded.
Mr Hall said in an interview that he and Mariann Edgar Budde, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, are calling on their parishioners to support four specific steps: bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, tightening rules for sales at gun shows and re-examining care for the mentally ill.
Clergy members have been involved in gun control efforts for at least three decades because, they say, they are the ones called to give the eulogies at funerals and comfort victims' families.
But they acknowledge they have been unable to mount a sustained grass-roots movement against gun violence — partly because they have not made it a priority, and partly because their efforts have been overshadowed by the organisational and fundraising power of the gun lobby.
Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, a two-year-old coalition that counts 40 religious groups as members, has only one part-time employee, Vincent DeMarco, who is simultaneously organising coalitions on obesity, health care and smoking. Asked his budget, he laughed and said, "de minimis".
FULL STORY Church leaders back gun control reforms (Muswellbrook Chronicle)