“Sacred stuff resides in that wooden stock and blued steel,” said Charlton Heston, movie Moses and one-time president of the National Rifle Association. A study quoted by the New York Times reveals that 54% of fundamentalist/ evangelical Christians have a gun in their home or garage. Cornerstone Arms, an interstate gun seller, is so named because “Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of our business, our family and our lives” and the “Second Amendment to our Constitution is the cornerstone of the freedom we enjoy as American citizens.” In other words, for many fundamentalist Christians, guns have become part and parcel of their religion.
Fundamentalists are very concerned with the freedom to exercise their religion as they see fit. In fact, the more radical evangelicals want the freedom to impose their world view on the rest of American society, which they see as secular and undeserving of its prominence in our nation. Just as these Christians fanatically argue for their literalist interpretation of the Bible, so do these same folk fanatically argue for the right “to keep and bear arms.”
There are several reasons for the resistance to sensible gun laws. But, one cause of this intense opposition is its roots in religion. People who have strong religious beliefs will fight tooth and nail for those beliefs. Since gun ownership has become part of their religion, fundamentalist Christians see the regulation of guns as an attack against “true religion.” They see themselves as fighting for their faith when they refuse to compromise on the issue.
As we Quakers almost always support limiting access to guns, Friends will find themselves in a difficult conversation when they try to dialog with evangelicals who own guns or identify with those who own guns. I suppose Quakers must seek God’s help in changing the hearts and minds of fundamentalist firearm enthusiasts. We must hold these evangelicals in the Light and simultaneously campaign for the votes of “anti-gun” people in the secular society. With a heavy heart, I predict a long and bitter struggle over this key issue in our national life.
~ Richard Russell
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