Radio host Rush Limbaugh blasted the ELCA for supporting the May 14 Million Mom March. Its endorsement of the Mother's Day event in Washington, D.C., also was the subject of an article by the Conservative News Service.
The article said the ELCA will likely stop encouraging Lutherans to participate in march activities as a result of the organization "becoming a political entity and supporting and opposing candidates for office."
Although the ELCA can't endorse candidates, it won't discourage its members from participating in Million Mom March activities, said Jean Martensen of the ELCA Commission for Women. "The church will always encourage its members to work for legislation consistent with its policies, but it will not support or oppose particular candidates," she said.
The Commission for Women and the Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs, Washington, D.C., endorsed the Million Mom March's mission statement and legislative proposals and also publicized the event to ELCA congregations. Their action stems from a resolution adopted by the 1993 Churchwide Assembly that calls for "passage and strict enforcement" of legislation surrounding handguns, assault weapons and assault-like weapons. The resolution does not include regulating guns used for sport, law enforcement or military purposes.
Two related nonprofit organizations were formed as a result of the march, according to an open letter on the Million Mom March Web site dated May 19 (www.millionmommarch.
com/). One organization will lobby for gun legislation, while the other will be education- and service-oriented.
The ELCA can continue to work with groups such as the Million Mom March on legislative issues, said Kay Bengston, assistant director for domestic policy for LOGA. "I did sense that the Million Mom March was not going to end its activities [at the Washington, D.C. march] but was going to continue to work to get gun-control legislation passed," she said. "We can be in cooperation on the issues related to legislation, working on legislation on which we agree. We would not be cooperating to endorse specific candidates."
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