While “March for Our Lives” demonstrations across the country dominated news coverage over the weekend, thousands of Christians marched through the streets of downtown Dallas on Sunday night to send the message that the one true answer to gun violence in the United States can be found in God.
Marchers in First Baptist Dallas’ “March for Eternal Life” carried a giant illuminated cross from the 12,000-member megachurch down to Klyde Warren Park in the heart of the city, where it was firmly erected to commemorate Palm Sunday.
Although 2018 is the second year that the church has held the event to commemorate the beginning of Holy Week, Senior Pastor Robert Jeffress told The Christian Post that there was more enthusiasm for this year’s march in light of the demonstrations that occurred across the country Saturday.
“Saturday, thousands of people around our country [participated] in a ‘March for Our Lives,’ advocating for stricter gun control to end the epidemic of violence. We think that is great and certainly re-examining gun control laws may be part of the solution to ending violence but it is not all of the solution,” Jeffress said in a phone interview.
“Focusing on legislation change alone to change our country is like putting a bandaid on a cancer [patient]. It doesn’t deal with the root problem.”
“What is really needed in America is a change of people’s hearts and only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can do that,” he continued. “What we’re doing in our march is … we are saying that we believe that the only hope for America is faith in Jesus Christ.”
The rally began at around 6:30 p.m. outside of First Baptist Dallas with a gospel music performance by 61-year-old Grammy Award-winning artist Sandi Patty.
Patty’s performance was followed by a communion service led by Jeffress, a well-known supporter of and informal adviser to President Donald Trump.
The procession began at around 7:30 p.m. As thousands marched, it took about 20 to 30 people to hoist and carry a 16-foot-tall by 11-foot-wide brightly illuminated cross. In the weeks prior to the march, church members wrote the names or initials of people they would be praying for this Easter on the cross, which was uniquely made for the march.
“This is the week that we are remembering the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who offers us the only hope of forgiveness and eternal life,” Jeffress said. “That’s why we are calling this ‘March for Eternal Life.'”
Once the cross arrived, it was erected in a place of prominence in the 5.2-acre public park in the heart of the city.
“For the last 70 years, secularists have done everything they can to have a crusade against public acknowledgement of God in the public square,” Jeffress asserted. “Secularists have basically engaged in an experiment to say, ‘Is it possible for America to be good without God?’ I will say that experiment has been a dismal failure. We believe that the last 70 years has sent our nation downward spiritually and that it is time for us as Christians to say that we believe that turning back to God is the answer to our nation’s problems, not to turn away from God.”
Jeffress said that the march comes on the heels of “recent examples of Christians who take a public stance for their faith being publicly shamed,” referencing attacks against the faith of people like Vice President Mike Pence and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow.
“We think that it is time for Christians to lovingly and boldly say, ‘I am not ashamed of the Gospel,'” Jeffress said.
First Baptist Dallas was not able to provide a more exact estimated total of participants in the march.