How many religious leaders mounted their pulpits this past weekend to denounce the killing of Treyvon Martin as a grievous offense against the right to life? Not counting the Black churches where pastors donned hoodies and people cried out in anguish against the racism that still claims young lives with abandon. How many other congregations really prayed for divine inspiration and the courage to stand against the rising secular tide of hatred and violence?
Many denominations hear sermons offering frequent defenses of the right to life and thunderous denunciations of the killing of unborn life. Where is the thunder for the unjust killing of those already born? Treyvon Martin had a right to life, too.
I wonder how many of the lawmakers in the 23 states with “stand your ground” laws also voted against reasonable gun control legislation but in favor of transvaginal ultrasound requirements. If we compel women to give birth, shouldn’t we do more to protect their children? The pro-life movement might gain a lot more support if it used some of its considerable firepower on behalf of the living.
Last week, the Children’s Defense Fund released a study that revealed that for the years 2008 and 2009, more children were killed by guns in this country than all of the U.S. military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. We have a war going on right here, a war in which citizens who are armed-to-the-teeth feel increasingly privileged to shoot other people at will. “Stand your ground” laws give a privileged place to vigilantes at the expense of peace and security for all.
Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund, said this in her column “Walking While Black”:
“The outcry over Trayvon’s death is absolutely right and just. We need the same sense of outrage over every one of these child deaths. Above all, we need a nation where these senseless deaths no longer happen. But we won’t get it until we have common-sense gun laws that protect children instead of guns and don’t allow people like George Zimmerman to take the law into their own hands. We won’t get it until we have a culture that sees every child as a child of God and sacred, instead of seeing some as expendable statistics, and others as threats and “no good” because of the color of their skin or because they chose to walk home wearing a hood in the rain. And we won’t get it until enough of us—parents and grandparents—stand up and tell our political leaders that the National Rifle Association should not be in charge of our neighborhoods, streets, gun laws, and values.”
We are nearing the end of Women’s History Month at a time when, at times, women’s rights seem on the ropes. But Treyvon Martin’s shooting reminds us that there are even more fundamental rights at stake. The right to life is a women’s issue. Let’s make our voices heard loud and strong: protecting our children is one of the most important responsibilities we will ever have. Imposing reasonable controls on the proliferation of guns, overturning “stand your ground” laws, and taking aggressive action against all forms of violence toward and exploitation of children must be causes that both the pro-life and the women’s rights movements can embrace.
See my post “No Country for Kids in Hoodies” on the Huffington Post
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