Rev. Peter Cook is speaking out about the devastating connection between Christianity and gun usage after the shooting in Buffalo, New York.
On May 14, Payton Gendron, the alleged shooter, killed 10 people, with the majority being black. Gendron's actions are said to be driven by his belief that America should be a white Christian dominant nation.
Cook, who is also the head of the New York State Council of Churches, believes that white Christian denominations hold the responsibility to fight against America's white supremacist tendencies by cutting the connection between God and guns.
According to Cook, during President Nixon's term in office, he promoted racist views, strict punishment for criminals and anti-abortion views. This is where the extreme Conservative views developed from and guns became incorporated into Nixon's political approach.
"It really gave tacit cultural permission to people of faith to own guns, so they conveniently worked their way into this religious freedom argument and conflated it with Christianity itself," Cook says in a press release. "It doesn't have any theological integrity to it at all, but we use the language of faith to acquire power and to further white supremacist notions."
After the mass shooting in Buffalo, many churches have come forward with firm statements rejecting violence and urging the legislature to tighten gun laws. Such as universal gun background checks, prohibiting buying firearms at gun shows and banning semi-automatic weapons.
In New York, locals are pressuring legislators to put an end to guns being imported from states that have looser gun laws.
"I think for the church, with a number of exceptions because gun culture infuses Christianity, we need the strongest gun laws we can think of. We don't think much of the second amendment," Cook said, which states the right to keep and bear arms.
Everytown for Gun Safety, an anti-gun violence movement, has partnered with over a dozen religious leaders of varying faiths to help endorse political leaders who support increased gun control safety measures.
Cook believes that more work needs to be done within the church of America. He encourages religious leaders to have conversations with their congregations that focus on these political issues.
"It starts with straight-up, honest conversations within our churches and getting people to get out of their pews, get out here, and show up at rallies, be present and listen to people, listen to their pain. A lot of times churches can be a little insular."