How do Guns and Jesus Mix?

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Photographed in May 2013 on I-81, near Kingsport, TN

I am at a total and complete loss. I need someone to explain to me how Jesus and Christianity and guns go together. And I mean that I am completely dumbfounded and confused. What I don’t get is–how do guns and ammo and killing people go hand in hand with Jesus? Even if I don’t believe in Jesus, I understand the ideas and concepts behind Christianity. Does this stem from God and Country? What is the draw? Really, I need to be enlightened. One of my cousins–an evangelical Christian–posed with an assault rifle on FaceBook. Another one of my cousins boasted on FaceBook that for Christmas, 2015, the top gift for Americans were guns–and she is a Southern Baptist.

Agains, whether I believe in Jesus or God or not, the concept of the New Testament is one of peace, is it not?

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Courtesy, Reboot: Christianity

Interestingly to me is how Christianity, just as life on Earth, evolves with the times. Yes, you heard me right–Christianity evolves. The Christianity of the 2nd Century Anno Domini is not the same Christianity that evolved from the 1st Century teachings of St. Paul the Apostle (Saul of Tarsus) or the Christianity of 4th Century St. Augustine of Hippo. The Protestant Reformation took the world by storm and completely changed the conversation from the Roman Catholic Church and the Byzantine Church. Jumping many centuries to today, the proliferation of mega-churches that are not connected with mainstream Protestant sects are continuing to change the atmosphere of Christianity today and make their leaders–Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Rick Warren–rock stars of the modern religious era.

So somewhere, somehow, the American evangelical Christian movement grabbed onto the Second Amendment and integrated it within the anti-abortion and now, anti-immigration movements. Sounds like an evolution of thought and deed to me.

I can only conclude that this is part of the Christian psyche of fear. Why else would someone purchase a gun in the United States? Hunting? Sure. Target practice? If that what gets you out of bed in the morning. But when you purchase a gun out of fear, it is because you fear that local law enforcement will not protect you so you must protect yourself. How does that have anything to do with Christianity?

Now, here in Texas, our legislation has taken yet an even more aggressive stance, allowing for open carry. In other words, you can pack heat in public. Welcome to the Wild West of 2016. In Houston, many area church leaders are appalled by the idea of their parishioners coming in with holstered weapons. See Area congregations weigh impact of guns in churches from the Houston Chronicle, January 6, 2016. But the Rev. Evan McClanahan, pastor of First Evangelical–note EVANGELICAL in the title–Lutheran Church, has no problem with his congregation members bringing guns into his service.

“I’m not pretending to speak for everyone in my congregation,” said McClanahan, “but my basic feeling is that criminals commit crime. Criminals have weapons. It wouldn’t bother me at all if church members had open carry. We don’t worship guns, don’t like them per se. But it’s a fallen world and guns are part of a fallen world.”

There it is. “Guns are part of a fallen world.” That is FEAR. You can’t have modern religion, especially evangelical religion without fear.

Yet as we have seen time and time again, those who kill are usually mentally ill. Unfortunately, the examples in the United States abound with the innocent loosing their lives from the barrel of a gun whose trigger is pulled by someone with incredibly fucked up brains. So the answer for Christians is to arm ourselves even more.

So, it’s not really guns and Christianity, it’s Christianity and fear that moves the religious to purchase guns. The non-believer will have fears, but those fears are not linked to mystical teachings or antiquated sayings and writings. If you are fearful and you are not mentally ill, or a convicted felon, then you should be able to arm yourself as per the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. It’s not my interest, but this is the way our country has EVOLVED and I see no chance for a change on gun rights. In the end, if I don’t want to live surrounded by those who have armed themselves, I need to move to another country. I know, it’s insane.

But so is fear. So is religion.

Abandoning Reason

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Dylann Roof, Courtesy, Psychology Today and FaceBook

One of my prime issues about religion is that you must abandon the laws of physics to be a part of the group. As I have blogged in the past, the very unreasonable tenets–make that impossible–of Christianity include the belief that a virgin gave birth to a man as a result of woman-to-god “contact,” miracles of healing, walking on the water, parting the sea, the smiting of non-believers by the deity and countless other impossible acts. I think that people’s spirituality can be so skewed that they need to believe in superheroes to rule their lives.

Something else even more sinister can result from such beliefs. Author, attorney and activist in the Humanist and Secular movements, David Niose has written a compelling article about such beliefs which was recently published in Psychology Today.

Niose points out the problem that arises from taking all of your beliefs and values from an antiquated religious book–and that problem is Anti-Intellectualism.

Niose presents his essay in the wake of the murder of nine innocent black church members in Charleston, SC on June 17, 2015 by the 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof. Niose argues that when a racist Neo-Nazi takes religion and a rampant gun culture to heart, the ultimate result is the killing of people that the racist believes is “beneath” him.

See the article by David Niose, Anti-intellectualism is Killing America from Psychology Today.

These arguments are not new in religion in general and Christianity in particular. White slave owners in early America used the bible to justify slavery when their own constitution exclaimed that “all men are created equal.” Well, some more than others and apparently, the more religious that man was and is, the more equal and the more that man deserves to live while those not so equal are as good as dead.

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Courtesy Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/what.htm

Anti-intellectualism gives the person a pass to not have to think, but to rely on the interpretations of the bible as given by his pastor or his local society. And in the South in the United States, that society is often anti-intellectual, highly fundamentalist, religious, conservative and racist.

For me, personally, this is an embarrassment and a failure of our educational system to break the chains of bondage to religion and deeply-seeded ideas of racism and misogyny. Anti-intellectualism is a call to return the United States to the pre-Civil Rights era and everything that the era embraced. Think of where medicine was back then, or the engineered world before the Apollo missions to the moon. Remember that women were still second class citizens and minorities were literally told to “know their place”–translation: you are not good enough to sit at deli counter with me and have a piece of pie, or use the same bathroom as I, or drink from the same fountain.

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Courtesy, Alabama Public Radio, http://apr.org/post/remembering-bloody-tuesday-tuscaloosa

Also, understand that people who continue to educate themselves will usually come up with these same conclusions, realizing that the old wives tales and biblical stories that were presented to them as undisputed facts are really just ancient attempts to explain the world. These explanations are simply no longer relevant in a world of reality and evidence.

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Anti-intellectualism makes our entire country look small and ignorant. It continues to stratify our society where the intellectuals live on the East and West coasts, with pockets of intelligence in the big cities. That leaves the South and the heartland to be steeped in ancient myths and fears which bubble up in ignorance. This ignorance took the lives of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., Tywanza Sanders, Cynthia Hurd, Sharonda Singleton, Myra Thompson, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Ethel Lance, and 87-year-old Susie Jackson, who were slaughtered during a bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC by Dylann Roof.

And I am mortified by this. Inexcusable. Anti-intellectual.

Do I Look Like a Baby Killer?

This is an older post, but continues to be more and more relevant. On the surface, Kat Richter is brave, but the bottom line is, she is a woman. And women in our culture are still vilified as second class citizens. When the evangelical Christian coalition that is the Republican Party work to tear down Planned Parenthood–a vital structural support for women, then, to me, these Christians are diminishing 50% of the population. Throw the entire baby out with the bathwater. Love, worship only the virginal mother Mary who gives birth to the demi-god Jesus, but all of the others are whores, while men can put their penises anywhere they please with only resulting high-fives. We women must always deal with the consequences. How dare you call yourself Christian, but degrade the “fairer sex” in your life. We women are also very good at degrading ourselves; we have been socialized to hate our bodies, our minds, but are told to put out for the man as God commands. In Jesus’ name. How dare you. Kat embraced her fears of those who judged her, who claimed to be “Christians,” who make assumptions. Christians protesting at Planned Parenthood butt into women’s lives when it is none of their business. Kat–YOU are courage; you are love; you are responsibility. You are reality in our world. I honor you today as the person who is the compassionate one at Planned Parenthood, not the protesters.

Fieldwork in Stilettos

This morning I went to Planned Parenthood.  I go every three months to pick up my birth control pills and again in August just before my birthday for my annual pelvic exam.

My usual concerns when going to Planned Parenthood are:

A)     Where am I going to park?  Parking in Center City is never easy.

B)      How long is this going to take?  The folks at the Locust Street branch are always friendly and seem pretty efficient but if you don’t have an appointment, you can find yourself sitting in the lobby long enough to watch an entire Tyler Perry film.

I’m never worried about getting stopped by protestors because let’s face it: this is 2013.  This is Philadelphia.  We’re not like that here.

Plus, my visit to Planned Parenthood has nothing to do with abortion, which makes sense because 90% of the services offered by Planned Parenthood have to…

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God’s Wrath–Imagination Run Wild

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Courtesy shoebat.com

I am always entertained by preachers who tell us that when bad things happen, God is angry at us and is punishing us.

Not only do humans step back centuries to age-old mystic ideas to justify what happens, they also ignore important warnings that are based on facts and evidence.

Let’s look at two fairly recent events, the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the repeated tornado outbreaks in Moore, Oklahoma.

Shortly after 9/11, two famous evangelical preachers, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson announced that September 11 happened because God was angry at the United States.

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Courtesy, Motherhaus

Take a look at this discussion between Falwell and Robertson discussing 9/11.

Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson on the 700 Club right after September 11, 2001.

Falwell blames the ACLU, the Federal Judicial system, abortionists, feminists, gays and lesbians, People for the American Way, all those who tried to “secularize America” are the reason why terrorists successfully highjacked four airplanes and killed a grand total 2,996 people. Then, he backpedalled and, according to The Guardian on September 19, 2001, saying, “Despite the impression some may have from news reports today, I hold no one other than the terrorists and the people and nations who have enabled and harbored them responsible for Tuesday’s attacks on this nation. I sincerely regret that comments I made during a long theological discussion on a Christian television program yesterday were taken out of their context and reported and that my thoughts – reduced to soundbites – have detracted from the spirit of this day of mourning.”

See: Falwell: Blame Abortionists, Feminists and Gays.

Even though our president at the time, George W. Bush, was and is an evangelical Christian, he denounced the dialog through White House Spokesman Ken Lisaius, who said, “The president believes that terrorists are responsible for these acts. He does not share those views, and believes that those remarks are inappropriate.”

We now know that some kind of attack was expected by then CIA director George Tenet and he reported his findings with alarm to the Bush administration (See the Showtime Documentary, “Spymasters”). The final report by the 9/11 Commission outlined the many warning signs that culminated in the destruction of that day. (See The 9/11 Commission Report.)

It is my personal opinion that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were speaking their own truths on the 700 Show right after 9/11. They truly believe that God inflicts harm on nations who do not listen to Him. The backpedaling that Falwell pulled was a direct result of pressure put on him by the Bush administration or the Republican Party. This is a perfect example of how evangelical Christians try to manipulate the population with fear.

Now, how about this example? Moore, Oklahoma sits near the middle of the State of Oklahoma and just south of Oklahoma City. The Weather Channel has published a graphic, noting how many times Moore has been hit by tornadoes in the past 16 years: This Graphic Shows a Remarkable 16-Year History of Tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma. There is a reason why Moore, OK gets hit by tornadoes. It’s right in the path of Tornado Alley. It is vulnerable to tornadoes because of the proximity of cold air coming out of the Arctic and the warm Gulf Stream breezes. Tornadoes occur occasionally in other parts of the world, but they are commonplace on the Great Plains of the United States–not because God is angry with the people of Moore.

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Moore, itself, is very strongly Christian as is the entire state. But after the rash of tornadoes, the Westboro Baptist Church decided that the people of Moore were being punished by God. WBC got right to work, issuing a news release on March 14, 2014 against the town: See God H8S Moore, OK.

The people of Moore were not pleased with WBC’s picketing and pretty much chased the interlopers back to Topeka. See Westboro Baptist Church Chased out of Moore, Oklahoma. Maybe God is punishing New York City, but can’t be punishing Moore, OK., smack-dab in the center of the Bible Belt.

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Courtesy, http://www.godhatesfags.com

So why do we give some very prominent people in the United States the platform to make these ridiculous claims that natural and man-made disasters are a result of God raining his wrath down on Americans? Well, it’s a free country. And because it’s a free country, we do not censure ignorant people. We let them have their say.

Feel free to believe that God is throwing thunderbolts and lightening down on you for your transgressions–that’s the easy explanation. Then you don’t have to deal with reality. Non-believers are not saddled with these anachronistic beliefs.

Reality, not made-up Satan back-stabbing, is what happened on September 11, 2001 and what will continue to happen in Moore, OK.

Are my two comparisons a stretch? I don’t think so. The reactions to what happened in both places are the result of people who try to use fear to change beliefs to their way. Evangelical Christians can only be successful at recruiting more “Christians” when their targets are steeped in fear. It works on many people. But not all. And it won’t work on me because reality is just…reality. Nothing more (or Moore) and nothing less.