Worth Watching: The Armor of Light

This week, PBS aired The Armor of Light, a recent documentary by Abigail E. Disney that profiles the story of Reverend Rob Schenck, a pastor and pro-life activist who begins to question the prominence of guns within the evangelical community in the United States. The film also follows Lucy McBath, whose unarmed, teenage son was murdered in Florida, home of the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law. McBath’s story is interwoven within the larger exploration of Reverend Schenck’s journey, and the result is both powerful and moving.

As I watched the film, I kept thinking of that old saying about politics making strange bedfellows. Though I completely disagree with Schenck’s campaign against the freedom of choice, I was struck by his intelligent approach to learning more about America’s gun issue and the compassionate and gentle way he chose to broach the topic with fellow pastors and church members. The film is essentially Schenck’s quest to find the courage to speak out against gun violence within the confines of the evangelical community he has worked so hard to strengthen in his years as a vocal anti-choice activist.

It’s not an easy task by any means, but Reverend Schenck assumes this responsibility after meeting with many parents who lost children to gun violence, including McBath, who encourages him to use his platform to help change both public opinion and government policies. Schenck takes a lesson with a gun instructor, visits NRA conventions, and talks with fellow believers in an effort to understand their motivations. He is surprised to discover many pastors who don’t share his views, but finds many allies within Black churches.

As Reverend Schenck explains, “I’m concerned about the NRA promoting the idea that the best way to solve the most vexing problems in our society is to be prepared to shoot people dead. That doesn’t sit well with me as a Christian moral vision. When we champion the Second Amendment over and above the word of God, then we must be very careful that in respecting the Second Amendment we don’t violate the Second Commandment.”

Rob Schenck’s compassion and sense of moral duty are incredibly inspiring, and despite his past activism, I found myself encouraged by his message of love. His ability to sit down at a table and just listen is more than many people are willing to try, and I hope that more faith leaders will take up this work, as well.

The Armor of Light is available on PBS until May 25th and more information about the film, including links to purchase it, can be found here.

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