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.