Washington dean urges followers of Jesus to stand against guns

(Photo Credit: Washington National Cathedral)The Very Rev. Gary Hall, Dean of the Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C., preaches on January 20, 2013.

The dean of the Washington National Cathedral said in a sermon on Sunday that followers of Jesus Christ must stand against guns, as the prominent cathedral in the nation's capital weighed in on the national debate which has erupted in recent years due to a series of mass shootings involving guns similar to military firearms.

The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the Cathedral, as the United States is set to celebrate a holiday marking the life of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose non-violent approach to civil rights for blacks in the United States in the 1960s came at the hands of an assassin armed with a rifle.

Four days before his assassination, the Rev. Hall recounted how Rev. King, a Baptist minister, preached non-violence from the same pulpit on March 31, 1968.

The National Cathedral, which was built at the start of the twentieth century at the city's highest point, has positioned itself as a church serving as a spiritual resource for the nation and people of all faiths and perspectives. It is affiliated with the U.S.-based Episcopal Church.

"Opposing gun violence may have political implications, but it is not primarily a political issue. It's a religious and theological issue," he said, noting that humans are created in God's image and must be protected.

Rev. Hall noted the "obscene proliferation of guns" in the country.

"We who follow Jesus and stand with [Rev. King] have to stand against guns," he said. "It's a hard truth but for us as Christians there's no way around that."

Recalling the Rev. King's words, Rev. Hall said human progress does not come without dedicated individuals willing to be co-workers with God.

He urged listeners in the pews and those hearing the sermon online to support recent proposals by President Barack Obama for Congressional legislators to reinstate a ban on assault weapons, put in place stiffer criminal penalties for those who aren't authorize to sell guns, and join with interfaith partners to shape a strategy to put pressure on legislators around the country.

He also cited President Obama's comments that progress on the issue will not happen unless the American people demand it.

He said the Cathedral's role as a visible faith community in the capital was unique and represented what is beset about civic life in the country, asking those listening to commit themselves to helping the legislative process move forward end the "scourge of gun violence."

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