By Donna Leinwand Leger, USA TODAY

Radical anti-government “patriot” groups and militias, galvanized against gun control, will continue to grow even as the number of groups operating in the USA reached an all-time high in 2012, a report Tuesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center finds.

The center tracked 1,360 radical militias and anti-government groups in 2012, an eightfold increase over 2008, when it recorded 149 such groups. The explosive growth began four years ago, sparked by the election of President Obama and anger about the poor economy, the center says. That growth is likely to continue as the groups recruit more members with a pro-gun message, the center’s senior fellow Mark Potok said.

President Obama’s second term and a gun control movement bolstered by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School is intensifying anti-government rage and will lead to more growth for the groups, Potok said. Read the full article at


California legislator Tim Donnelly

By Cavan Sieczkowski, Huffington Post

A California Republican legislator, who is a vocal opponent of President Barack Obama’s gun control proposal, believes that guns are “essential to living the way God intended.”

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly called in to the AM740 KBRITE Christian radio show, “The Bottom Line,” to discuss gun control on Wednesday, when he revealed that he believes firearms are part of God’s plan.

“Guns are used an average of 3 million times a year according to the Clinton Justice Department,” Donnelly said via RawStory. “That’s like 6,900 times a day. That’s the high end of the statistics. Other people say it’s only 200 times a day. Whatever that number is, they are used to defend human life. They are used to defend our property and our families and our faith and our freedom, and they are absolutely essential to living the way God intended for us to live.

Annie-Rose Strasser of ThinkProgress notes that Donnelly’s “God and guns” argument can be disputed by Bible verses pointing to the notion that “life should focus on family, not firearms.” Read the full story at

By Charles deGravelles and Feltus Taylor, Jr.

Feltus Taylor, Jr.

Feltus Taylor, Jr.

Feltus Taylor, Jr., was born in Manhasset, N.Y. His mother, a prostitute and drug addict, gave him up for adoption. He was raised primarily by an adopted grandmother, Mrs. Henrietta Rowan, in Baton Rouge. He spent 10 years of a 15-year sentence at Hunt Correctional Institute for armed robbery.

He was later convicted of the 1991 murder of Donna Ponsano and sentenced to execution. He is the author of an unpublished autobiography, “Waiting to Die,” edited by Ronlyn Domingue, and a book of collected essays, “Letters to Young People from Prison,” edited by Charles deGravelles. 

Charles deGravelles

Charles deGravelles

Charles (Charlie) deGravelles is a deacon in the Episcopal Church. He is the founder of the Episcopal prison ministry at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola (now the Chapel of the Transfiguration) where he has been a volunteer chaplain since 1990. A former newspaper and television journalist, deGravelles is a chaplain and teacher at Episcopal High School in Baton Rouge. He is married to Angela Winder and has three children and one grandchild. His poems and short stories are widely published in literary magazines and anthologies. He is the author of a book of poems, “The Well Governed Son,” 1984, New Orleans Poetry Journal Press. 

Charlie and Feltus met on Angola’s Death Row in 1997. Charlie became his spiritual advisor and friend until Feltus was executed by lethal injection on June 6, 2000. Charlie was with him.

In the beginning (Charlie)

I grew up in a south Louisiana household without guns. Many years before, my dad, as a boy, made his first and final kill, a mallard duck shot in a marsh south of Thibodeaux. The kill had not excited but saddened him. He stared into the glistening eyes of the creature, limp but still alive and fluttering in the mouth of a retriever. It was his last hunt. He justified to us his lack of enthusiasm by telling us often that guns were more likely to kill someone in the household than an intruder. A hard-core conservative and staunch Republican, he nonetheless had no use for guns. As he did with all of the important lessons he wanted to impress on us, my dad clipped newspaper stories — in this case, accounts of innocent people accidentally killed by friends or family — and taped them to the refrigerator.

So naturally, my brother and I, at our first opportunity, surreptitiously bought guns. They were BB pistols, one apiece, shiny and with a container of copper BB’s in each box. We bought them and extra BB’s with money earned from chores at a Sears and Roebuck down the street, and we carefully hid them in our closet. Read More…

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Three of the top 10 religion news stories of 2012 relate to violence. Huffington Post editors tabbed the debate about the presence or absence of God at the slaughter of six- and seven-year-olds in Newtown, Conn., as the No. 1 religion story of 2012.

Earlier in the year, another crazed gunman killed six people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisc., and a low-budget film that skewered the Islamic faith led to riots in a number of Muslim countries. The fact that three of the top 10 religion stories last year involved violence may actually seem a little low, since violence has used religion and religion has used violence since the beginning of the human enterprise.

The extraordinary violence of the 20th century made everyone take a new look at the role of religion in the cruelty of human beings against other human beings. We are quite aware of the use of the name of God to defeat enemies. Every German solider in World War II had “God With Us” printed on the uniform belt. Christians have been forced to look more critically at our history, confessing sins as massive as the Crusades and the Inquisition. Contemporaries know the violent conflicts between peoples of different faiths, such as in Ireland between Protestants and Roman Catholics, and in the Middle East between Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

Of course, note is also taken of the fact that faith communities in general and the Christian churches in particular have also been responsible for much of the emancipation, liberation and progress in our world. But are Christians limited to a balancing act, weighing the peace and justice to which we contribute over against the religious contribution — or simple acquiescence — to  violence? Read More…