What Has Been Our Response To Sandy Hook?
by Rev. Dr. Rob Schenck
You can see the anticipation in children’s faces this time of year. The colorful lights, the decorated tree, the packages wrapped and the stockings hung on the mantel – all building up their excitement for Christmas day.
But six years ago, on December 14th, 2012, 20 precious little first graders innocently went to school and never returned home.
The mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut stunned and horrified our nation. Never before had we seen small children, little first graders, subject to such violence. Along with the 20 children, 6 teachers and school administrators lost their lives as well. It was a dark day in America – and an especially dark day for the parents and families who lost precious loved ones.
Since that day, there have been many, many more mass shootings in America with more than 2,100 lives lost.
As people of faith, we can’t just shrug our shoulders at this senseless loss of life and say, “It’s unfortunate, but bad things happen.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer urged people of faith toward “responsible action.” He said, “Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God – the responsible man, who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God. Where are these responsible people?”
May we indeed arise and be “responsible people” and do all we can this Christmas and throughout the year to ameliorate suffering after tragedies like Sandy Hook.
First, I encourage you to pray for the parents and families who mourn such great loss – a loss that strikes particularly hard this time of year. But I also encourage you to move beyond your prayer and to take action. Go HERE and sign the Prayers and Action Prayer Petition or join the Survivor Sunday movement. There are many ways you can put your faith into action – including helping the survivors of gun violence. And, if you are a pastor or a leader in your church, you can decide to address the issue of gun violence from a biblical viewpoint in 2019 by downloading our free FULLY PROTECTED Bible study by going HERE.
This Christmas, may we honor the lives of the children and adults lost on December 14, 2012 through our prayers and our action.
Statement by Rev. Dr. Rob Schenck on Mass Shooting in Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California
(Washington, DC) November 8, 2018 — The mass murder of another dozen Americans, including a long-time sheriff’s deputy, once again after being sprayed with semi-automatic weapon fire, should be reason to couple our prayers for the victims and their families with concrete action.
This latest atrocity, at a California country music dance venue popular with students, again has even veteran police officers overcome by emotion as they try to describe the horrific carnage. News reports indicate the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks attracted college students, country music fans, and line dancers. It was yet another case of Americans going about their everyday lives only to have them ended by a fellow citizen armed with evil intent and a weapon designed for killing.
As people of faith, we most certainly turn to prayer as our first priority. Bringing the families of the loved ones who lost their lives so tragically and unexpectedly before our gracious God is important because we know that it is His peace and comfort that is needed at this time — not only for grieving families, but also for the survivors who witnessed the atrocity first-hand.
But there is something else we must do.
As we pray, we must ask the Lord, “What would you have me to do?” We can’t always assume that God will use someone else to answer our prayers. God’s will may very well be to use us to answer the prayer!
James 2:14-17 says, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
The time to act is now. One way we can act upon our faith is by signing the Prayer Petition that many of our fellow evangelical leaders have already done. I encourage you to go to [put in link] and read this important statement that is derived from our faith and our desire to see the end of innocent lives taken by senseless gun violence.
It’s time that our nation hears the cries of the faithful who are calling out to end the ongoing slaughter of Americans who are simply living their daily lives and being killed when going to school . . . going to church . . . going to a movie . . . going to work . . . going to dinner . . . going to a concert . . . going to dance . . . going to meet friends.
We cannot come to a place where Americans must be afraid to go about their normal lives. We cannot allow mass shootings to be the reason for us to be afraid to go about everyday tasks or enjoy fun and friends, and even worship. We must act to end this new and terrible “normal.” This is time to match our prayers with our concrete actions, individually and together.
STATEMENT BY REV. DR. ROB SCHENCK AND DR. JAMIE ATEN, OF THE FAITH-BASED GUN SAFETY ORGANIZATION PRAYERS & ACTION, ON MASS SHOOTING AT JEWISH SYNAGOGUE IN PITTSBURGH
(NASHVILLE, TN) Oct. 27, 2018 — Long-time Christian minister to top government officials in Washington, DC, president of The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, and a spokesperson for Prayers & Action, Reverend Dr. Rob Schenck, along with founder and executive director of The Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College, spokesperson for Prayers & Action and disaster psychologist, Dr. Jamie Aten, released the following statement today after reports of another horrific mass shooting in a house of worship took place early Saturday morning.
While details are still unfolding, news outlets are reporting that at least eight people are dead after a man entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This latest mass shooting comes just days ahead of the one-year mark of the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas where 26 people were shot and killed during a church service:
STATEMENT FROM REV. DR ROB SCHENCK:
“My heart goes out to all of those impacted and forever changed by today’s despicable act of violence in yet another house of worship. Slaughter and shoot-outs in the sanctuary can’t be the only answers to the terrible gun violence crisis plaguing our nation. The time is now for religious leaders to come together with civic and political authorities to find and enact solutions. Mass shootings cannot become a way of life in America.”
STATEMENT FROM DR. JAMIE ATEN:
“You may have thought you were just imagining that disasters, including mass shootings, are happening more frequently—but you aren’t. Today’s horrific mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh is another reminder that whether we are inside or outside sacred spaces, we have an epidemic that requires leaders of every faith to respond with both prayers and action to ensure these mass shootings come to an END in our country. My heart continues to break for the families and loved ones in Pittsburgh. May God wrap His mighty arms of comfort around them.”
Ross, Schenck Named Executive Advisors to Secretary General of World Evangelical Alliance
New York, NY – April 11, 2018
Larry Ross, president and founder of A. Larry Ross Communications, and the Rev. Rob Schenck, president of The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, have been named executive advisors to Bishop Ephraim Tendero, Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA).
The WEA is a global association of national and regional Evangelical alliances united in mission and uniquely positioned as a representative voice to advance evangelical values, address concerns and advocate for the marginalized throughout the world.
Ross is expected to advise “Bishop Ef,” as he is known, on behind-the-scenes diplomacy with U.N. ambassadors and their governments, as well as public interaction and engagement with the media on global issues. Schenck, the president of a Washington-based organization and minister to top elected and appointed officials in all branches of the federal government, will provide special insights into the people and issues in Washington D.C.
“Larry is uniquely qualified to provide counsel for us on public-relations matters because of his many years as media representative for many Christian leaders and organizations, such as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and other international ministries,” said Tendero, who was named Secretary General in 2015. “As a minister to government officials and a champion of Christian values in Washington, Rob will be a trusted advisor as well. I personally feel very fortunate to be able to rely on their seasoned experience and expertise.”
A. Larry Ross Communications is a Dallas-based full-service public relations firm founded in 1994 to provide crossover media liaison at the intersection of faith and culture. In 2016, Ross served as Communications Director for Dr. Ben Carson and his presidential campaign.
Ross, whom Newsweek magazine headlined as “Point Man for God,” has more than 40 years of mainstream and Christian corporate, agency and non-profit experience influencing public opinion through strategic PR counsel to organizations and individuals. These include men and women on a mission for God or the common good, such as evangelist Billy Graham, for whom he served as personal media spokesperson for more than three decades; Dr. Rick Warren and Saddleback Church; Bishop T.D. Jakes; and many other national and international Christian leaders; and numerous theatrical film releases, such as “The Passion of The Christ.”
The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute is a non-profit dedicated to applying the theological and ethical insights of the World War II-era Protestant church leader, Third Reich-resister and moral philosopher to the social crises of our time.
Schenck is a senior fellow of The Centre for the Study of Law and Public Policy at Oxford, where he studies and reports on international religious freedom. He is also the past pastoral advisor to the office of the Ambasssor-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. Schenck is the subject of the Emmy-winning documentary, “The Armor of Light,” which examines Evangelicals and the gun culture, and the author of “Costly Grace,” due to be released by Harper Collins in June.
Former chair of The Evangelical Church Alliance, Schenck is also president of The National Clergy Council. As a sought-after cultural observer he is a frequent guest on national TV and radio shows regarding moral issues confronting our nation. He has met with two presidents, House and Senate leaders and Supreme Court justices.
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Chief Communications Officer
Over two billion Christians in the world today are represented by three world church bodies. The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) is one of those, serving more than 600 million evangelicals. Launched in 1846 to unite evangelicals worldwide, the WEA continues to be a dynamic movement with 7 regional and 129 national Evangelical Alliances, and over 150 member organizations. WEA’s mission is to establish and strengthen regional and national Evangelical Alliances, who in turn enable their national Church to advance the Good News of Jesus Christ and effect personal and community transformation for the glory of God. For more info, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or go to Worldea.org.
Statement by Evangelical Leader on Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart Gun Sale Policies After Fox & Friends Interview Today
Leading evangelical spokesman, the Reverend Dr. Rob Schenck (pronounced “Shank”), a long-time Christian minister to top government officials in Washington, DC, and president of The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, appeared on Fox News Fox & Friends today to commend decisions by retailers Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart for their change on gun sales.
Dick’s Sporting Goods will no longer sell high capacity, rapid-fire, semi-automatic rifles and Walmart has raised the purchase age for all guns to 21. Rev. Schenck, who holds an NRA life membership and votes on nominees to its board of directors, said today these actions are “morally courageous, highly ethical, and socially responsible decisions.”
He went on to say, “There is no need for these battle-field inspired weapons . . . they are the guns of choice for mass murderers and terrorists.”
Schenck adds to his televised comments, “I agree with the call by Dick’s CEO Edward Stack to outright ban assault style weapons. There are plenty of options for sports shooting and hunting. The AR15, AK47, Bushmaster, and other high-capacity, rapid-fire, semi-auto long guns are designed to hunt humans, not animals. They are fast becoming the weapons of choice for mass murderers and terrorists.
“In states like Arkansas, hunters understand this. For Duck hunting, you are limited to three rounds in your chamber. Add a fourth bullet when hunting a duck, and your gun will be confiscated, your hunting license will be revoked, you may even have to surrender your truck. Hunters understand that these restrictions are in their best interest.
“Why do we accept limitations on duck hunting, but not on human hunting? You can use three bullets to hunt ducks, but you can use an unlimited number of bullets to hunt humans. That’s supremely immoral.
“20 tiny tykes blown to pieces in Newtown, 49 people in Orlando with 50 grievously injured, 58 slaughtered and 850 wounded in Las Vegas, 26 dead in their church pews in Texas, 20 more injured, and 17 young people mowed down, 14 gravely wounded in Parkland—and that’s not all. What do these tragedies have in common? Rapid-fire, high-capacity, M16-like battlefield-grade weapons.
“Stopping, slowing sales, increasing the age limit for purchase, can help reduce the chance of dangerous people getting these weapons. There’s a lot more to do, but the decisions of these private companies will go a long way toward a solution. This is the best of corporate behavior and Dick’s and Walmart deserve to be commended and rewarded with our business. There need to be more moral business leaders. Who will be the next to help us solve this monstrous problem?”
Rev. Rob Schenck, an ordained evangelical minister, is president of the Washington, DC-based Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute and is the subject of the Emmy Award winning documentary, The Armor of Light, which examines American evangelicals and popular gun culture. He explains why he changed his mind on gun ownership and use in his upcoming memoir, “Costly Grace: An Evangelical Minister’s Rediscovery of Faith, Hope and Love, to be released by HarperCollins June 5 and available now on pre-sale.
Schenck Talks Bonhoeffer Podcast
Sponsored by The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute
Program Content Description
Many have heard of his name – Dietrich Bonhoeffer. And many know he was a martyr under the Nazi regime during World War II. Yet, what many do not know, is that he was a theologian, a professor, a humanitarian, an ethicist, a prolific writer, and his most dearest role, an Evangelical pastor who loved the church and called it to take the higher, yet more difficult road, during the most turbulent time in history. We can glean from Bonhoeffer’s approach in examining and proposing solutions to the various crises, controversies, and conflicts that he encountered in his era – and that we encounter in our world today. Join us on our journey of not only discovering Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but on continuing his work to restore integrity to a Christianity contaminated and disfigured by political cooptation and exploitation.
Rev. Dr. Rob Schenck
The Rev. Dr. Rob Schenck is an ordained Evangelical minister and president of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, located in Washington, DC. A leader among American Evangelicals, Rev. Schenck served a 2-year term as chairman of the Evangelical Church Alliance, America’s oldest association of independent Evangelical clergy, and is now an advisor to the Office of the Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance.
Rev. Schenck holds a B.A. in Religion, M.A. in Christian Ministry, D.Min in Church and State, and is a senior fellow at the Centre for the Study of Law and Public Policy at Oxford.
Rev. Schenck serves on numerous boards and committees, including the National Advisory Board on Community Engagement in the State Courts.
Rev. Schenck lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, Cheryl, a psychotherapist in private practice.
Introducing Dietrich Bonhoeffer
In this premier episode of Schenck Talks Bonhoeffer, you will meet the courageous and fascinating Dietrich Bonhoeffer and learn how this one man, dedicated to Christ and to his fellow human beings, left an imprint that impacted his world and our world today.
REV. ROB SCHENCK, PRESIDENT OF THE DIETRICH BONHOEFFER INSTITUTE, ASKS FOR PRAYER AND SUPPORT FOR VICTIMS OF LAST NIGHT’S MASS SHOOTING IN LAS VEGAS
10/2/17 – WASHINGTON, D.C. –October 2, 2017 (Washington, D.C.) Following the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States, President of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, Rev. Dr. Rob Schenck, is asking clergy to lead Americans in prayer and support for the victims, the wounded, and families of all those affected by the barbaric and senseless shooting of more than 450 people overnight in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
PRAY ON SUNDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2017
The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute is coming alongside Prayer Warriors Against Gun Violence asking Pastor’s, Ministry Leaders, and all Christians to join in prayer for survivors and friends and family of gun violence on Sunday, October 15th
PLEASE JOIN US as we lift up in prayer all those who have been impacted by gun violence in our nation. May we, as believers, show the love and compassion of Christ to the many individuals and families that live with the aftermath of gun violence – asking God to comfort them in their grief and to restore hope in their hearts.
The President of The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, Rev. Dr. Rob Schenck, states:
“Survivor Sunday is a wonderful way for Christians to reach out with the love of the Great Physician to those devastated by gun violence. A bullet can take a life suddenly and frighteningly, but it can also leave survivors, loved ones, witnesses, and even whole communities deeply traumatized and in bondage to fear. Survivor Sunday telegraphs the critical message that Christians care about all the ways in which people suffer after a gun is used to harm someone. Survivor Sunday is a powerful, prayerful ministry of compassion.”
For more information go to www.survivorsunday.org