In response to American gun violence and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting in Parkland, Jacksonville's Reverend Ken Jones, who hosts "Truth is Holy" on 91.7 FM, has called for a 72-hour fast. He's encouraged listeners to his show and anyone who'd like to join in the fast, which began Tuesday at 7 a.m. and will end Friday morning, to participate.
Fasting, Jones says, is about "denying the flesh" in order to "feed the spirit."
"When I am spiritually strong inside, I can bear the infirmities of the weak," Jones says.
Jones bases his call for a fast on Biblical precedent. In the Old Testament, Jones says, "Esther called for a fast and saved a whole nation from annihilation."
Jones also says he predicted the Parkland shooting on his radio show two days before it happened
"It's prophetic, because I said we got to do something to address this violence, I said it on my show on the 12th, and this shooting occurred on the 14th. I ask God, 'What are you trying to tell people?'" he says.
He doesn't call himself a prophet, but says his mother did before she passed away a few years ago.
Asked why mass shootings have become an integral part of the American landscape, Jones says, "People in America feel a very heightened anxiety. The average person who owns a gun does not just have one gun. People who own guns have 15, 20, 30 guns."
According to a BBC story, the day after the Parkland shooting, American civilians own more than 270 million guns, far more than any other country, per capita, on the planet. The Guardian reported in November that just three percent of Americans own 133 million guns.
Meanwhile, The New York Times pointed out in June 2016 that people in England were only as likely to die from gunfire as Americans were from falling off a ladder (about one in a million), the Japanese as likely to die from a gunshot as Americans from lightning-approximately one in 10 million.
Nations with strong gun laws have low rates of gun deaths, while nations with weak gun laws have high rates of gun deaths.
Though Jones quotes verses like Ephesians 6:12, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world," he also believes in very physical actions like changes in gun policy.
If some might be tempted to dismiss his call for fasting as a solution to gun violence, comparing it to politicians' offers of prayer, instead of policy, for victims of gun violence, Jones does believe in legislative action.
"There's a pattern," Jones says, "and part of the pattern is the AR-15."
Jones tends to make grandiose statements that might influence some listeners to dismiss him. If statements like "As a man of God, the Lord shows me things" turn you off, you might give him credit for being, perhaps not "the voice of Jacksonville," as he claims, but a powerful voice not "crying in the wilderness," rather from the heart of an American city. His is one of the voices shouting that they've had enough of this country's gun violence epidemic, a plague unique among the wealthy nations of the world, that are growing louder and stronger every day.