No doubt about it, Fr. Pfleger is as passionate as ever about his ministry on Chicago's south and west sides. His original focus, social and economic justice for inner-city Black Americans, has now expanded into attacking head on the plague of violence--especially gun violence--affecting the people Fr. Pfleger serves.
I respect that people have the right to own guns. What I don’t respect is
the fact you’ve now made this a symbol of America. I just don’t really think
we want to make assault weapons on a billboard with an apple pie,
American baseball and a symbol of Christianity, calling that pure American.
I find that offensive. I find it offensive that they’ve said that they chose
Chicago because of the murder rate. This should be stopped…I strongly
disagree as an individual, as an American citizen, and as a pastor that
we want an assault weapon as a symbol of American life.
In Fr. Pfleger's estimation, the bogeyman in this particular story is the NRA which, he believes, is behind a push against what Pfleger calls "reasonable gun restrictions." Moreover, Pfleger argues that the NRA "is not concerned with the damage associated with gun violence." He said:
There’s no responsibility. The N.R.A. has fought even universal
background checks to make sure the mentally ill don’t get a gun.
The N.R.A. is paid for by gun manufacturers and gun manufacturers
have one thing in concern: making money.”
Those are inflamatory judgments, with Fr. Pfleger providing no supportive evidence.
Not one to step back from a food fight of this type, Fr. Pfleger took his crusade last week to St. George's Church on Chicago's southwest side. Calling out the NRA once again, Pfleger told the audience that the NRA had blood on its hands because of the violence in Chicago and elsewhere.
But, there's another, perhaps more substantive problem with Pfleger's assessment. His calls to remove the Slide Fire advertisment on the Stevenson Expressway because he finds it "offensive" would violate the 1st amendment's protection of free speech. Just because something said is "offensive" doesn't mean it can't be said. Should Fr. Pfleger be muzzled because people find what he says "offensive"?
Fr. Pfleger's feelings about social and economic injustice as well as violence--especially gun violence--are not only to be commended but they are also on target. Pfleger is also correct to call Catholics to task for sitting back and praying that things will get better, but not getting involved and doing their part to stand up against social and economic injustice as well as violence.
However, Fr. Pfleger might consider boning up a bit on the Constitution before arguing that its contents be violated to promote his social, political, economic, and ministerial agenda.
Let the discussion begin...