The New York Times is under fire for publishing an essay that ties Christianity in with the spate of mass shootings that have occurred over the past few decades.
According to Peter Manseau, a religious scholar, “gun culture is largely Christian culture,” and thus Christianity is inexorably linked with the outcomes of so-called “gun culture.” These outcomes are, of course, mass shootings.
His essay begins by talking about how the manufacturer of the “AR-15-style rifle” used during the Uvalde and Los Vegas mass shootings is very religious.
“Daniel Defense, the Georgia company whose gun enabled the slaughter at Robb Elementary School, presents its corporate identity in explicitly religious terms. At the time of the shooting, the company’s social media presence included an image of a toddler with a rifle in his lap above the text of Proverbs 22:6 (‘Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it’),” he writes.
Manseau continues by citing a couple more examples of religious firearms manufacturers before noting, “According to a Public Religion Research Institute study, evangelicals have a higher rate of gun ownership than other religious groups. Across the country, they account for a significant share not only of the demand but of the supply.”
“For many American Christians, Jesus, guns and the Constitution are stitched together as durably as a Kevlar vest,” he adds.
He then proceeds to provide a history of the so-called “trope” of a “muscular Christianity” that says “[s]ometimes guns are necessary for the Lord’s work.”
For instance, he cites “The Two Gun Sermon,” a popular 1912 western that told the tale of a small town minister who used guns to force a couple local troublemakers to church, where he then proceeded to deliver an unforgettable sermon to them.
“It’s important to understand that for the manufacturer of the Uvalde killer’s rifle, and many others in the business, selling weapons is at once a patriotic and a religious act. For those who hold them to be sacred in this way, the meaning of firearms proceeds from their place at the intersection of American and Christian identities,” Manseau continues.
“Proposing limits on what kinds of guns they should be able to buy — or how, when, where and why they can carry them — is akin to proposing limits on who they are and what they should revere. To be sure, there are gun owners for whom a gun is just a gun. But many of our fellow citizens don’t just own guns, they believe in them. They believe the stories told about guns’ power, their necessity, their righteousness.”
Notice how he seems to assume these “stories” are somehow false.
Manseau then proceeds to attack the “good guy with a gun” argument by portraying it as nothing more than a debunked “myth” rooted in “a religious vision of a world in which good and evil are at war, where God and firepower make all the difference.”
He eventually concludes by arguing that “Christian ideas may be contributing to a gun culture that abets our epidemic of mass shootings by helping to keep the nation well armed.”
“None of the recent mass shootings had explicitly religious motivations, but the religious contexts of our seemingly eternal problem with gun violence — its history, its theology, its myths — are too important to ignore,” he writes.
Missing from Manseau’s essay, critics say, is any mention of the criminal element. He almost acts as if patriotic, religious-minded gun owners are the ones committing mass shootings and other violent crimes, versus law-breaking goons who have no respect for the tenets of Christianity, let alone the sanctity of life.
Speaking of the sanctity of life, Christians are against abortion.
Today marks the grim 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Since this ruling in 1973 over 62 million innocent lives have been lost due to abortion. Every single life matters including the unborn. We must protect the sanctity of life & prevent taxpayer dollars from funding abortions.
— Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 22, 2021
Also missing from Manseau’s essay is any recognition of the fact that America used to be far more religious and simultaneously far less dangerous.
“This gentleman is using bad logic. When America was overwhelmingly Christian in character, there were gun safety and shooting classes in public schools. There were no mass shootings. There was a culture that life is a gift from God,” one critic wrote in a comment posted at FoxNews.com.
“Yep. When I was in high school, in the early 70s, I was on the rifle team. We kept our guns in a safe and only got them out for practice or competitions. We even had an indoor range in the school. The ROTC Drill Team used working M-14s. In the 50 years of the program’s existence, there was not even a single accidental firing, much less anyone hurt,” another added.
Lastly, critics say, Manseau’s essay conflates American culture, which is rooted in the liberties granted by the U.S. Constitution, with religious culture.
“[T]he Christian church has zero to do w[ith] 2nd amendment rights,” a FoxNews.com critic succinctly and pithily explained.
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Author: Vivek Saxena
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