Interfaith Group Supports President Obama's Gun Control Efforts

An interfaith group of leaders commended President Barack Obama over his recent gun control efforts and are looking toward Congress to continue to advance more gun control.

Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, a group comprised of 40 faith-based organizations and denominations, stated their support for the new efforts to reduce gun violence that were announced Wednesday.

Jim Winkler, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society and chair of the coalition, said in a statement that Congress should seek to ban assault weapons and high-capacity gun magazines.

"By banning assault weapons and high-capacity gun magazines, this plan will do much to keep these weapons of mass destruction out of the wrong hands and prevent future tragedies like we saw last month in Newtown, Conn.," said Winkler.

"And the proposal will do much to reduce the gun trafficking, which is a source of much of our tragic urban gun violence, by imposing stiffer penalties on this activity."

Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy, told The Christian Post that the UMC leadership's support for gun control is unsurprising given the denomination's recent history.

"The United Methodist Church has officially backed eliminating private ownership of hand guns since 1972 while also backing other limitations on gun ownership," said Tooley.

Tooley also told CP that he felt these upper level departments of the UMC were being divisive in their decision to take a distinct position on the gun control debate.

"Once again, United Methodist agencies like the D.C. lobby office and the United Methodist Women's Division are claiming to speak for millions of church members on a controversial political issue," said Tooley. "Their claims are dubious. Also, once again they are demonstrating their endless faith in expanding big government to solve virtually all societal problems."

According to their website, Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence seeks to "to confront America's gun violence epidemic and to rally support for policies that reduce death and injury from gunfire."

"While we continue to pray for the families and friends of those who have perished, we must also support our prayers with action," reads the home page of their website.

Entities affiliated with the interfaith group include the American Friends Service Committee, Catholic Health Initiatives, Church of the Brethren, The Episcopal Church, the Islamic Society of North America, Union for Reform Judaism, and the World Sikh Council for the American Region.

When asked by CP if there appeared to be any counter faith-based efforts in opposition to the position of Faiths United, Tooley responded that there was nothing comparably organized.

"Most evangelicals according to polls are opposed to greater restrictions on gun ownership. But typically evangelicals and other Christians have not organized on the gun issue from a specific faith perspective," said Tooley.