5 months, 2 weeks ago
Some 30,000 people in the U.S. die each year by gunshot, and one reason there aren’t more effective efforts to stop the carnage is that “the faith community has been asleep — fast asleep,” says a pastor who has worked for decades to reduce gun violence.
The Rev. James E. Atwood, author of “America and Its Guns: A Theological Exposé,” was in Kansas City recently to urge religious congregations to take a stand for sensible gun safety legislation that would protect both lives and Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
Such advocates are badly needed. As Harper’s Magazine noted recently, since the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., more than twice as many laws have been passed in various states weakening gun controls than laws strengthening them. That certainly holds for Missouri and Kansas. It’s an outrage, but there may be hope in this deeply religious country if Atwood is right that since Newtown “we are seeing a tipping point where the faith community is at last waking up.”
In his Kansas City appearances — sponsored by a coalition of more than a dozen groups — Atwood, a Presbyterian who is himself a gun owner and hunter, said one of the problems is that many Americans have moved from “respect” for firearms to “reverence” for them.
“It’s an idolatrous belief,” he said, “that violence can produce security. On the other hand when guns become idols we can document how their presence transforms the personalities of individuals and entire communities.”
So guns have morphed from an inanimate object, a component made of mechanical parts, into something that can transform the personality of not only an individual but an entire community.
Unfortunately, the pitiful pastor has forgotten his theology, and made something the theologians call adiaphorous (neutral, neither good nor bad) into something with personality and intentionality. He replaces the evil in the heart of mankind with evil in objects, a form of animism.
He also worships the power of the state to transform, and thus he has turned the state into his god. One good antidote for this kind of twisted thinking is my Christians, The Second Amendment and the Duty Of Self Defense.