Letters: Southern Baptist Convention Leader On Guns

Melissa Block and Robert Siegel read emails from listeners about an interview with Dr. Richard Land, director of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, about guns.

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Now, your letters and we heard from many of you about my conversation yesterday with Dr. Richard Land. He's director of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. And the moment that seemed to get most of you writing was Reverend Land's theological justification for gun ownership and the use of lethal force.

REVEREND RICHARD LAND: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love your neighbor as yourself. If you see you neighbor being attacked, if you see your neighbor in danger, you have an obligation and a responsibility to do what you can to protect them.

SIEGEL: Dennis Maher of Lake Luzerne, New York, writes this. After 40 years in the church, I never thought I would hear a church leader say that a follower of Jesus should be prepared to kill someone who might harm others. Maher goes on to say, when Jesus was confronted with Roman guards come to arrest him, he told his disciple to put away his sword. Think about this, Mr. Land. By your logic, Jesus would not have been crucified, Jesus should have fought his foes.


Other listeners challenged Land's assertion that arming and training staff would make our schools safer. Lisa Waligora is a teacher from LaPorte, Texas, and she disagrees. I actually shouted out, no, that is not true. She continues, I do not want a gun kept in my class or the expectation that to be a teacher means I have to be trained and ready to defend my classroom. As a teacher, I wear many hats and I'm given great responsibilities with the students in my classes. I am in awe of what my colleagues have done in the face of the unthinkable.

SIEGEL: We also heard from Chris Pflieger of Fort Wayne, Indiana. He wrote in response to Richard Land's suggestion that he would support new restrictions on semiautomatic weapons and large capacity magazines. Pflieger writes this: while it may disgust some listeners, I enjoy competitive target shooting using a semi-auto rifle with 30 round magazines. For me, it's a sport, just like racing cars is for others. Isn't America about accepting each other's differences and right to pursue happiness?

BLOCK: If you have thoughts on our program, please write to us at NPR.org and while you're there, one non-gun related note. Earlier this week, I talked with David Breashears about his muli-giga pixel images of Mount Everest. After enthusiastic response, Breashears Glacier Works organization has posted a new interactive version of the image.

You can click yourself down onto the ice and inside tents on Everest. Again, that's at our website, NPR.org.

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