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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Armor of Light

A man of faith takes on the gun nuts

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 23, 2016 -- This documentary film about faith-based right-to-life and gun violence activists zeros in on the political split between Christians concerning the proliferation and use of guns in America.

Filmmaker Abigail Disney (daughter of Roy Disney of Disney Studios) brings together two seemingly unrelated political movements in one man, minister and political activist Rob Schenck, President of Faith and Action. Schenck is an Evangelical Christian who is also Republican. Schenck, and Faith and Action has worked for years to outlaw most abortions, erect monuments to the 10 commandments, and forge relationships with politicians to persuade them that his interpretation of the Bible is the right one.

Schenck was troubled by gun violence, particularly when one mass shooting happened close to where he lives. He gradually begins to move away from the pro-gun, pro National Rifle Association, anti-gun control position that is a matter of faith for most Republicans and many Evangelical Christians. He began to wonder if the faith in guns is taking the place of faith in god for some Christians.

Then came the fateful meeting with another devout Christian, Lucia Kay McBath. Schenck said that Lucy, as he calls her, got him moving in the gun-control (and anti-Stand Your Ground Law) direction. Lucy is the mother of Jordan Russell Davis, a teenager shot to death in Florida over an argument about loud music. Davis was killed shortly after the Trayvon Martin incident, and it stirred up additional controversy over Florida's Stand Your Ground Law, used as a defense in the Jordan Davis case.

In one scene, Lucy gives Schenck a very powerful and moving argument about the relationship between Christianity and guns in relation to the Stand Your Ground Law. The use of guns, she said, is based on fear, and, in the case of white people afraid of black men, this fear can sometimes be based on an imaginary threat. She argues that Christians should place their faith in God, not in guns. Schenck is clearly moved by the argument.

Schenck decides to investigate this faith in guns. He wants a hands on experience, so he goes to a rifle range and tries out a variety of weapons from handguns to semi-automatic assault rifles. He admits there is an adrenaline rush when using these weapons, but he also feels the deadly force in them.

Schenck knows the very real political and monetary danger of going after the gun nuts. If he is branded a liberal, his funding could dry up and his political connections within the Republican party could be severed. The faith in guns is powerful, and so is the National Rifle Association (NRA). He has to tread carefully.

This is brought to the fore in a meeting of four conservative Christians. Two of them, including Schenck are arguing the anti-gun side and two are pro-gun. One is so pro-gun he is spouting the NRA creed, word for word. He argues for Christians to carry guns into church. The argument becomes very loud, and pretty much devoid of Christian love and fellowship.

The film ends with Schenck giving a sermon in which he quotes from the Bible, “So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” This is a fascinating look at the intersection of Christian faith and gun violence. This film rates a B.

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Copyright © 2016 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

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