Though they are joined by many other religious leaders in their outrage at the recent gun bill that was signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal, I want to thank our Episcopal bishops for being in that number. When the state loses its mind, hopefully the church will not follow it. Too many of our Georgia legislators and our governor seem to be traveling on a very peculiar road. A road that makes them believe it is a good idea for folks to take guns to schools, churches and bars.
Some of us who understand those who live by the sword or gun are likely to die by it, can be grateful that the bill allows leaders in schools and churches to say whether or not guns can be brought on their premises. I am personally thrilled that Bishop Scott Benhase of the Diocese of Georgia and Bishop Robert Wright of the Diocese of Atlanta quickly went on record making it clear that guns will not be welcome on Episcopal property in Georgia. Thanks be to God for them and all of the other religious leaders who are taking a similar stand.
In the first place, it seems rather strange that anyone would believe that a gun is needed in a place of worship. It makes me wonder what kind of theology is held by such a person. Of course, the desire to carry a gun speaks to fear and the notion that one has to look out for ones self. Actually those of us in the Christian community are expected to hold to the conviction that God provides for us and that we do not have to live in fear because God is larger than all of the circumstances that life can bring to us. Many of us are willing to stake everything on that fact. When people are striving to live without fear, a gun is unnecessary.
It is difficult to understand the fixation that many in our country seem to have on guns and gun ownership. Somehow, it seems they have traveled back to the past and gotten stuck there. When the Constitution was framed it made a bit more sense to talk about having the right to bear arms, but in the 21st century, it is a rather strange notion to embrace. After all, we have a police force in every city and village and we have a military. It seems that would be satisfactory.
But as soon as I say these words I can hear fear speaking and looking at all of the reasons why every citizen should be armed. While there have been a few instances of violence in churches, those incidents do not warrant the type of fear-based overreaction that we have just witnessed in the Georgia Legislature and in the governor’s signing of this awful bill.
It was fear that pushed the lobbyists and the framers of this bill ahead and fear that made many vote for it because they believe their political capital will diminish if they don’t support such measures. Though some of the elected officials probably really believe arming more folks in a country that is already one of the most violent industrialized nations on the planet, is a good idea, let us hope there are some who think it is a very bad idea.
In this violent land we have created, we need to be searching for ways to stem that tide. What is it going to take for us to begin to understand that violence breeds violence? We continue to fight war after war both on our own streets and in other lands and yet there is no end in sight to the need for more violence. We are addicted to violence. The only remedy to addiction is abstinence, and that takes courage and commitment.
This column by Catherine Meeks, Ph.D., appears twice monthly. Meeks is also a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.