What if Religious Leaders Aligned Against Violence?

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Motion Blur Stretcher Gurney Patient Hospital EmergencyAn OpEd by Meg Helgert, FNP

I’ve been thinking about all the shootings lately and what seems to be driving this…in a few words..fanatical religious thinking at some level, not necessarily the whole story, however a large majority of incidents seem related.  I wonder if more religious groups/leaders need to come together and help solve this.

Placing the burden for this squarely on the shoulders of the US government will not resolve this. It hasn’t so far and it is but a small part of a much bigger issue facing our country. Allowing the gun lobby to control members of congress and many splinter groups across the country isn’t a viable solution either. Church and state need to stay separated, so it makes sense for church leaders to open up dialogue with all faiths on this very serious problem we are facing, and make the first move.

It seems that many of the shootings involve believers or beliefs that are attributed to religious motives. As such, wouldn’t it make sense that a coalition of religious leaders who address how they are delivering their messages and what their message brings in this day and time might be an important step towards minimizing these shootings?

I maintain this would to be responsible church leadership. Gun control is one thing but definitely not the whole answer. Addressing mental health in our society is also part of the answer.  Nevertheless, many of folks believe strongly in what their religions teach them and religious leaders need to look seriously at the messages and doctrines they are preaching to their church members. This is definitely not a “quick fix” but a very positive start in the right direction. Many people look to religeous leaders for guidance and to this extent they have a profound responsibility in the messages they give their parishioners. Many of the messages given to members from the pulpit are taken literally and much of bible teaching is metaphorical. To know this difference is the mainstay of responsible church leadership.

...a huge responsibility in delivering a message based on peace & respect for all human beings... Click To Tweet

120px-Globe.svgThere is a huge responsibility in delivering a message based on peace and respect for all human beings; all walks of life and for all who inhabit this small blue planet we call home.
In my humble opinion…

Meg Helgert, Family Nurse Practitioner

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2 Responses to What if Religious Leaders Aligned Against Violence?

  1. Meg,

    What a brilliant idea. Your op-ed is very insightful and I
    applaud your call for religious leaders to come together to help solve the
    problem of violence.
    I agree that many shootings involve extremist beliefs,
    perhaps attributed to how religion is interpreted.
    Maybe a coalition of top religious leaders could be formed to
    put forth the most common, major principles that most religions share about
    respect for one another, love, peace and more. Perhaps the coalition could
    begin by creating a short list of common principles. Then, perhaps, a simple
    website for the coalition could be created to share goals and list of principles.
    Then, perhaps, people like us could help circulate those principles via social
    Maybe an online, short webinar with those top religious
    leaders could take place, (circulated world wide and in many languages),
    advocating peace.
    I believe in your idea of coming together as a group. It
    could be a powerful force to help prevent violence and encourage peace.

  2. Beth_Boynton_RN_MS says:

    Hi Meg,
    Thank you so much for your thoughtful insights. I think you are right on and support your idea. It is about responsible leadership and collaborating for what I would think would be a common thread of human goodness that all religions share. I can envision a coalition of diverse church leaders, a summit on ‘religion’s role in preventing aggression’ (or something like that), a position statement that could be visible in churches and online websites, and facilitied discussions about the delivery and content of messages.

    I don’t think ISIS is really about religion, rather human beings who are enraged about life experiences, disconnected from healthy relationships, vulnerable and perhaps hungry for a sense of belonging and power, and/or maybe mentally ill. We need to ask, ‘what makes someone want to belong to such a group and what can we do to promote healthier connections.

    I am very grateful for law enforcement’s preparation and response and think the people in San Bernadino did an amazing job. Yet I don’t think that this part of our work does much to prevent aggression, rather it contains it. Definitely important. We need to think also of prevention and your idea seems very proactive.

    Healthcare professionals and the ‘industry’ can also get involved more proactively. I know there are trainings to respond to workplace violence and again see such efforts as containment and necessarry. I think we can do a better job of preventing aggression in our own workplaces with things like:
    -Clear descriptions of appropriate behavior for everyone (staff, leaders, patients,& families).
    -Training in identifying warning signs of aggression and de-escalation techniques
    -Ensuring there is enough clinical staff to meet patient needs in a timely manner and a presence of security staff sending out a constant message of appropriate behavior.
    -Follow progressive state legistlation making assaults on HC professionals a criminal offense
    -Eradicating horizontal and vertical violence from our workplaces
    -Develop community educational programming in related areas

    I know these are complex solutions and require more discussion. Yet we can not be surprised or outraged any more by such events. They have sadly become a part of our status quo and we must work towards a healthier and safer existence for all of us, now!

    Thank you again for your hopeful idea. I hope readers will share and discuss and take action steps to bringing it forward.

What are your thoughts?