By Bob Smietana
After a calamity, there’s a time to pray.
There’s a time to act.
Then there’s a time to do both, says Jamie Aten, executive director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College.
Aten and other Christian leaders are calling for prayer and action in the wake of last week’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen students and teachers were killed in the shooting, with dozens more injured.
Both prayer and action are needed to prevent future school shootings, says Aten.
“As Christians, we owe it to the victims and survivors of mass shootings—and to each other—to pray for all those impacted,” he said in a statement Wednesday.
“But we also must take action to try and prevent this from happening again to more people and prioritize this in our policies.”
More than 180 Christian leaders have already signed an online petition at PrayersAndAction.com, calling for Christians to prevent future shootings.
The petition calls for prayer, “common-sense gun laws,” and steps to encourage gun owners to take precautions to keep firearms out of the hands of children or family members in crisis.
Statistics for mass shootings are complicated, since some shootings take place in families and others involve robberies or gang disputes, according to The Washington Post.
Then there are public mass shootings, where more than four people are killed, often by a lone gunman, the Post reported. Since 1966, there have been 150 such shootings, which have killed 1,077 people.
The petition points out that, overall, 100,000 Americans are shot each year and about 30,000 Americans die from gunshot wounds. About two-thirds of gun deaths are by suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“As faithful churchgoers and leaders in the evangelical Christian community, we are heartbroken and deeply concerned about the gun violence that continues to plague our nation,” the petition reads.
Among other signers:
- Max Lucado, best-selling author and pastor
- Lynne Hybels, co-founder of Willow Creek Community Church
- R. Bernard, pastor of Christian Cultural Center in New York
- Rob Schenck, president of The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute
- Kathryn Freeman, director of public policy for the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas
- Gus Reyes, director of the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas
- Peter Chin, senior pastor of Rainier Avenue Church, author of Blindsided by God
- Joel Hunter, retired pastor of Northland Church
Students from Douglas High have led a nationwide debate over gun violence since the shooting occurred. They held protests at the Florida legislature—asking for the state to take steps to prevent school shootings.
They, along with parents of victims there and from other school shootings, met this week with President Trump to discuss gun violence.
Students and parents from Douglas High also took part in a passionate town hall meeting in Florida, hosted by CNN.
- South Florida Churches Respond to Douglas Shooting, Call for Unity
- In Mass Shootings, Who Wins?
- Strangers in a Small Town: Responding to Visitors in an Age of Violence
- Securing the Faithful: How Churches Can Best Prepare for the Worst Tragedies
BOB SMIETANA (@BobSmietana) is senior writer for Facts & Trends.