Union President Rev. Dr. Serene Jones writes in Salon about the absurdity of using the Bible to justify the Republican Party’s devotion to guns. Read the op-ed below or online here.
The Bible is a lynchpin of the pro-gun movement. In every corner of our country, purportedly Christian leaders lean into the narrative that bearing arms is a God-given right – one that should not be restricted in any way. So, as our nation reels from yet another mass shooting — this time, a gunman killed three children and three adults at an elementary school in Nashville — far-right Christian leaders continue to loudly and proudly lead the charge to funnel more guns into our communities.
More thoughts and prayers.
As the bodies pile up nationwide, so-called Christians are leading the cause to stop any meaningful restrictions on deadly weapons.
Just days ago, the Republican-led Florida House of Representatives passed a bill that would nix background checks and training to carry a concealed gun. A major champion of the legislation, Rep. Adam Botana, said this bill upholds “a constitutional God-given right endowed by our creator.”
A few weeks prior, Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana helped introduce legislation that would reduce regulations on pistol braces – which can make guns easier to conceal. He stated, “Law-abiding gun owners should not be turned into criminals overnight for exercising their God-given right.” Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Budd of North Carolina, while slamming background checks for gun owners, once proclaimed, “Our right to life and liberty are absolutely God-given and that’s what the Second Amendment protects.”
Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin had the audacity to blame the Uvalde shootings on the “secularization of society” and the “loss of faith.” And rather than any calls for restricted guns, his solution was “renewed faith.”
“As a Christian, we talk about the church,” Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., said after this week’s shooting. “I’ve said this many times, I think we really need a revival in this country.” He went on to admit: “We’re not gonna fix it.”
For conservative Christian politicians like these, God is a zealous gun advocate. That message is echoed by local leaders, pastors, community groups, and more across our nation.
But as a theologian with deep biblical expertise, I must say, I’m struggling to find the part in the Bible about unlimited access to guns. I hate to break it to these “devoted” religious followers: The Bible says absolutely nothing about allowing people to run amuck with guns. It’s a completely ludicrous reading of the text.
Generally, conservative politicians justify this vague connection by claiming the Bible gives people the right to self-defense. But that’s a preposterous jump from the text. The Bible barely touches on a right to self-defense. There are a few sentences that could allude to one – but in no way is there a concrete message on the subject. Plus, the deadliest weapon the Bible ever mentions is a sword – hardly an AR-15 that can kill dozens of people in seconds.
All in all, it seems to me that the Bible would perhaps support a hefty supply of pepper spray. But weapons of war? That’s absurd.
Curiously though, there seems to be another all-powerful force fueling these religious pleas for deadly weapons: cold-hard cash.
I suspect these politicians are not in fact hearing the whispers of God, but rather the “Cha-ching!” of cash. The National Rifle Association has been funneling huge chunks of cash to pro-gun politicians for decades. Sen. Cassidy, for example, has been supported with $2.9 million from the NRA, according to data from OpenSecrets. Sen. Johnson and Sen. Budd have received a respective $2.6 million and $1.8 million in support. And that’s not even to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars these politicians have taken in from gun rights PACS or individuals.
Now for some real Biblical analysis: On virtually every page, the Bible tells us to value and protect human life. Life is sacred. In the Book of 1 Corinthians, for example, the apostle Paul explains, “God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” In the Book of Job, Job explains that in God’s hand “is the life of every living thing.” And many times, the Bible notes that humans were made in God’s image.
The fact is, time and time again, guns are used not for self-defense, but to claim innocent lives. It’s far too easy for them to fall into the wrong hands and shatter families and communities.
Claiming a “God-given right” to guns would be laughable if it wasn’t so deadly. If these conservative politicians insist on spouting pro-gun policies, they should at least leave our all-loving God out of it.