Yesterday, Michel Martin, host of NPR’s Tell Me More interviewed Dean Gary Hall of Washington National Cathedral who has been speaking out for stricter gun laws and greater acceptance of same-sex marriage. Martin asked Hall about those issues, and the evolving role of faith in progressive politics. (Audio and transcript available.)
MARTIN: You have said that in part you hope that the cathedral and the people who worship there and the people who follow your leadership will see that as a way to counter the influence of the gun lobby.
MARTIN: I wanted to ask, first of all, you know, what is it that you would specifically like people to do? And how is that in line with your mission?
HALL: Well, what we’re asking people to do is essentially sign on to a fairly comprehensive agenda which, before it got politicized, I would say by the NRA, was a fairly common sense, middle of the road agenda, which is legislation calling for an assault weapons ban and a high capacity ammunition magazine ban, calling for universal background checks, calling for stricter laws in gun trafficking. And then also really addressing questions of mental health and then also the culture of violence, and that is still a fairly consensual middle of the road agenda.
MARTIN: Well, presumably you aren’t in the world of polling per se. You’re in the world of what’s right and what one presumes led by core principles and so…
MARTIN: …my question to you is, how did you determine that this is consonant with the core values of the church?
HALL: Well – let me start with that. That’s an important question. Christianity, like all faith traditions, spends a lot of its energy asking the question about suffering and the meaning of suffering. And how do we respond to innocent people suffering? And in fact, Jesus died at the hands of violence, so we, from the beginning, it seems to me, have been enmeshed in the question of violence as a faith tradition, whether we want to be or not.
And then the church itself has perpetrated violence, just to be honest about it, in its own history too. So you can’t be a person of faith without coming to terms with the question of violence.
It does seem to me that – because I am a Christian it seems to me that my call is to stand with and for victims of violence, and I’d say that most of the people in our life pretty much agree with that, although some people feel that the 2nd Amendment is sacrosanct and shouldn’t be messed with.