Many people of faith turn to the clergy for guidance. Obviously, what form that clergy takes is dependent on the faith in question. For Protestants, that’s going to be our pastor.
Pastors are people, though, and that makes them flawed. They can make mistakes, which anyone can be forgiven for.
It’s when they try to use faith to push gun control that I have a problem.
That’s precisely what one pastor out of Maine did with her recent op-ed. Titled, “Opinion: Faced with record gun violence, I’m calling for more than prayers,” the piece is subtitled, “God’s directive is clear: Thou shalt not kill. It’s time for us to make that happen by banning assault weapons,” you know what’s coming.
As an ordained minister, my heart grieves for all the suffering caused by these mass shootings. But I am not only sorrowful, I am also angry. I am angry because these deaths are unnecessary and could have been avoided. My faith tells me that the killing of humans is wrong. Thou shalt not kill. God is very clear that life is valuable, because God’s image is imprinted on each soul. God has told us what is right, “Thou shall not kill,” but has left it to us to figure out how to make it so.
This is not a discussion about ownership of guns for hunting. I am a Mainer. I know many responsible individuals who own guns for hunting. This is an argument of how to prevent mass shootings of humans. Maine hunting laws limit using semi-automatic rifles to five rounds for deer and three rounds for ducks.
Assault rifles like AR-15s and high-capacity magazines are made for one reason, to enable an individual to kill large amounts of people quickly. These are weapons of war. There is no reason for an average citizen to own such a weapon, except to kill. When we allow a society to make killing easy by the selling of AR-15s and high-capacity magazines, we are not honoring the image of God in each person.
God has given us direction. Thou shalt not kill. It is time for us to take action to make it so.
Except that God’s direction has already been codified in law. Murder is illegal, after all, and that’s really what the direction is about.
The author, Rev. Holly Reid, would have us believe that banning so-called assault weapons is completely in accordance with God’s will.
Now, I’m not a pastor. I’m not even a particularly good Christian. As I like to put it, as a Christian, I’m a good example of a bad example.
Yet one thing I do know is when someone is trying to use faith to run a line of BS.
See, if Reid were really interested in using the laws to make it harder to murder, why focus one’s gun control efforts on a type of weapon that’s not commonly used to kill people?
While AR-15s and similar so-called assault weapons are used in many mass shootings, they’re not the only weapon used in such killings. They’re not even the most common weapon used in mass shootings. Those would be handguns. Fewer than a third of mass shootings involved a rifle of any kind, and most of those still had a handgun present.
What’s more, handguns are also the most commonly used firearm in more pedestrian “gun homicides.”
If Reid were pushing the idea that handguns should be banned or, at a minimum, heavily restricted, that would at least be more logically consistent with her thoughts that “thou shalt not kill” should lead to gun control. If a type of gun should be restricted because of that commandment, why not the one used to kill more people?
The fact that it’s not suggests that Reid isn’t really acting in accordance with her faith but is instead using her faith to push her preferred but secular narrative of gun control.
That bothers me. It should bother any Christian, even a bad one like myself.
The clergy is supposed to be there for us and to guide us in accordance with God’s directives. They’re not there to guide us to follow their own politics with a mangling of biblical teachings to justify it.