The only way to heal the nation after the massacre at Charleston's historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is to pass laws keeping "godless Hollywood" from "poisoning the minds of our young people" through violent films and video games, the Rev. Franklin Graham said Saturday.
"President [Barack] Obama’s answer to the tragic shooting of nine people in Charleston, SC, is to have more gun laws," the prominent Christian evangelist posted on his Facebook account
Saturday. "With all due respect Mr. President, all of the laws in the world can’t change the human heart—only God can do that."
Instead, Graham continued, the United States needs a "spiritual healing — we have turned our back on God and His laws."
Much of the problem he said, lies with Hollywood, which is "responsible for glorifying gun violence on television, in movies, and in the video gaming industry. This plays a big part in our culture of gun violence today."
Instead of more gun control laws, Graham said, Congress should be asked to "pass laws against the poisoning of the minds of our young people by this godless industry?"
He asked his followers to share the post if they agreed, and as of this morning, nearly 61,000 Facebook users had hit the share button. The post was liked by nearly 100,000 people, and almost 9,000 comments had been made.
This is not the first time Graham has blamed the entertainment industry for mass shootings, rather than the nation's gun legislation. According to a 2013 Christian Post
article, Graham then argued against further gun control laws then as well.
"Gun control proposals now circulating in Washington and in many state capitals don't address a more important issue – the constant stream of violence put forth by the entertainment industry," Graham had written on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website
"Every year brings a flood of movies, not to mention cable and television programs, that are filled with violence. Whole segments of America's music industry make their profits from song lyrics that glorify gratuitous violence, and there is seemingly an endless number of video games that are nothing more than murder simulators."
Graham at that time reminded readers that 2,000 years ago "bloodthirsty Romans" gathered at the Coliseum to watch gladiator fights and mass slaughterings. He compared that to the present day society and how it has become "desensitized to murder and mayhem."
Most evangelicals support tighter gun restrictions, according to a poll taken by the National Association of Evangelicals in the wake of the 2012 mass shootings of schoolchildren at Sandy Hook Elementary School, reports ChurchLeaders.com
. In that survey, 73 percent of the evangelical leaders questioned said the government should increase gun regulations.
"Evangelicals are pro-life and deeply grieve when any weapons are used to take innocent lives," said Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). "The evangelical leaders who responded to the NAE survey support the Second Amendment right to bear arms but also want our laws to prevent the slaughter of children."
Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham and the president of Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse, at one time backed efforts requiring background checks for all gun purchases, according to Time.com
Two years ago, he and Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission told Time they agreed to back the legislation, put forward by the Obama administration after the Sandy Hook shootings.
"As ministers, we agreed together that we could stand on a united front for universal background checks," Graham told Time. "We think that’s reasonable and responsible."
However, just before serving as a prayer breakfast speaker for the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Indianapolis in April 2014, he walked back a bit on that statement, posting to Facebook that "God has already done a universal background check on all of us."
Graham said in a statement to Slate.com
that he still supports background checks, "but the term universal seems to be a moving target and changes every time lawmakers propose new legislation. Not even the current background check system is working. It hinders, and in some cases, stops the sale of legitimate gun purchases by law-abiding citizens."
He further commented that as the government "doesn’t seem to be able to do background checks in a fair and timely manner," and that he is concerned "the government could abuse that system" should a universal background check law be approved.
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