We awoke Sunday morning to news of yet another mass shooting only this time it wasn’t just any mass shooting. This was the worst instance of a mass shooting in the history of the country. The targets were individuals in a gay night club making it a hate crime. The perpetrator is rumored to have called 911 to pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, prior to entering the club making it an instance of domestic terrorism.
The latest tragedy is interesting within the Evangelical spectrum because of the intersection of three prominent issues: homosexuality, radical Islam and gun control. Evangelicals typically carry a rather negative tone on the first two. We bemoan the loss of traditional family/sexual values, speak of “biblical” marriage and repeatedly insist on inserting ironic quotation marks when we speak of gay “marriage.” We border on Islamaphobia as we critique the motivations of Muslims domestically and abroad. We get a little nervous when we drive by mosques or see a woman wearing a hijab in Wal-Mart. We desire retaliation against terror groups and hostile states after events like Orlando or when ISIS executed Christians on Easter.
While the tone has begun to swing, most Evangelicals are still firmly entrenched in the flag-waving, second amendment asserting, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” camp.
And then there’s gun control. While the tone has begun to swing, most Evangelicals are still firmly entrenched in the flag-waving, second amendment asserting, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” camp. I was incredibly disappointed as I browsed social media feeds and news sites to find a good number of articles from Christians asserting their right to continue to own automatic/assault style weapons and arguing that it is only the media’s bias against and ignorance of guns that is compelling a push against some form of restriction in the sale of at least certain types of weapons.
There’s also the rather expected comparison to abortion. This particular misdirection makes the claim that, if people really want to get upset about mass murder, the type they should really be upset about is the kind that occurs to thousands of unborn children every day. Evangelicals argue that the culture that permits this behavior should not be surprised when adult lives are taken by mad people wielding automatic weapons or otherwise similarly lethal firearms.
The argument is increasingly tone deaf. In seeking to make every atrocity in which life is taken on a large scale an argument against abortion, Evangelicals have lost credibility to speak into the issue on a wide-spread scale. Such comparisons fail to engage the issues at hand which Evangelicalism can speak prophetically and compassionately into: the nature of evil, the remedy for hatred and the preservation and value of life.
To the credit of most of my Evangelical brethren, this particular tragedy has not evoked this comparison as often. Perhaps we’re learning.
Once again the critique against Evangelicals is that we are pro-life up to the point of birth. Frankly, I’m finding this position harder argue.
However, to our detriment, many of us have taken the opportunity to reassert our right to bear arms in the face of yet another mass loss of life. Once again the critique against Evangelicals is that we are pro-life up to the point of birth. Frankly, I’m finding this position harder argue.
Yes, I understand that many foster/adoptive parents are Christians. I understand that Christians are behind many modern hospitals and orphanages. I’m not arguing that Christians don’t care for people. By and large, and perhaps disproportionately, we do.
Up until we discuss gun control. When faced with an issue where critics can point to wide-spread loss of life as a result of the use of firearms we re-affirm our mantra that “guns don’t kill.” We wave the second amendment in the face of critics conveniently ignoring the idea that the founding fathers could never have envisioned a reality in which firearms more advanced than muskets could be used to slaughter 50 innocent people at a time. We concoct elaborate conspiracy theories seeking to place the blame for atrocities on everyone from the president to the media.
I understand the issue is complicated. I understand that, if someone really wants to hurt people on a large scale that they will. I am familiar with stories from countries with much more restrictive gun control laws in which a similarly motivated individual can harm large groups of people with a knife, a bat or any sharp or blunt object you can imagine.
I also understand that without automatic weapons the likelihood of a large number of people being murdered and/or injured decreases significantly. What I fail to understand is, as the coalition of the pro-life, how Evangelicals fail to grasp this concept and fight to decrease even the possibility of another such atrocity. The police and the FBI simply can’t monitor every potential whack-job out there. Why wouldn’t we want to make things significantly more difficult if not impossible to get their hands on what has proven to be their weapons of choice? Because we have the second amendment? Really?
We can and must do more as people who claim to value life.