“The Armor Of Light” is the directorial debut of Abigail Disney, the grand-niece of Walt Disney, and explores the complicated relationship between Christian and their guns. It follows the journey of noted Evangelical Pastor Rob Schenck who joins activist Lucy McBath in a surprising alliance in the wake of the recent wave of mass shootings and senseless killings.
Schenck came to notoriety during the early 1990s when he led the Pro-Life battle against abortion. During this riveting documentary, he explains that he began to have questions about the movement when certain followers, all Christians, perverted his message and carried it to the extreme by assassinating doctors who performed abortions.
His questions become a moral crisis of conscience after the murder of five Amish girls in a schoolhouse in 2006 and the Washington D.C. Naval shipyard shooting in 2013. The latter hit Schenck especially hard as the shooting took place in the neighborhood where he lives.
He began to ask questions like, “When is a Christian allowed to use a weapon to kill”.
Disney follows Schenck as he goes to a shooting range, firing several weapons to fully understand the power of the guns. He said that as he was firing everything from handguns to semi-automatic rifles, he tried to put himself in the place of the children and school teachers in the Sandy Hook classrooms during that tragic mass shooting.
“That feeling wouldn’t leave me,” he said.
Enter Lucy McBath, the Delta Airlines flight attendant who became a reluctant participant in the fight for the repeal of the so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws that had been adopted in many states. After her son was killed in Florida, McBath, a devout Christian herself, began speaking out against these laws and even testified before Congress.
Disney chronicles the powerful meeting between McBath and Schenck at his Faith and Action offices in Washington D.C., in the shadow of the Supreme Court building. The positive outcome of the meeting is the common ground that these two are able to find amidst great emotion in a very complicated issue.
Disney follows Schenck as he tours the nation, speaking to large congregations and small meetings of church leadership, asking questions about faith and firearms. He was surprised at the response he received from many Christians, who are taught to value all life, and their desire to prevent further gun control or restrictions.
“We need Jesus, the scripture, and a sidearm, right,” he asks one church official. “Is that what you are saying?”
During a visit to the 2014 NRA Convention in Indianapolis, Disney expertly weaves archival news footage with interviews and Schenck’s own comments and observations to show the growing conflict faced by Christian Evangelicals regarding faith and guns. Schenck refers to this intermingling between the NRA and Evangelicals as a “Faustian pact.”
“When faith becomes interlaced with politics,” he said as Sarah Palin addressed the audience. “We become open to selling our souls.”
Disney’s directorial debut is an eye-opening success. She follows the events as they play out and does what all talented documentary makers should do; stay out of the way and let the people tell their story. She doesn’t try to answer the questions that Schenck and McBath pose to the audience, they are left to their own decision making. This is where Michael Moore came up short with “Bowling For Columbine” in which he told the audience the problem and how to feel about it.
This issue is complicated for us all, but it only becomes more complex when viewed through the eyes of a conservative Evangelical Pastor. Given the current political atmosphere in the United States, this documentary is both timely and well made, and I would classify it as a must see, no matter which side of the issues you stand on.