By Joe Kay 2-28-2018

We need to stop linking guns and God.

Guns have been elevated to godly status in our society, turned into religiously affiliated icons in our culture. Not long ago, I heard a radio commercial for a truck dealership declare that “America was built on God, guns, and trucks”— the American trinity.

It’s more than just a commercial, it’s a way of life in much of America.

After each massacre, guns are defended with religious fervor, as though owning a weapon is akin to owning a Bible. We’re told that the problem in our society isn’t unfettered access to weapons, but a failure by godly people to arm themselves and go out and kill the ungodly people. We’re told we need more “good” people buying guns and perfecting their aim so they can shoot the “bad” people.

We’ve sunk to a point where we’re no longer talking about preventing school shootings. Instead, we calculate whether arming teachers might result in fewer children slaughtered and pray our kids aren't ripped apart by bullets.

There are suggestions that we need to merely post Scripture in classrooms to ward off evildoers — although that hasn’t stopped the slaughter in Bible-filled churches that have been shot up, too.

We’ll come up with any “solution” other than taking responsibility for our complicity in the carnage that’s enabled and encouraged by our laws and our attitudes about guns and violence.

If we’re going to stop the carnage, we need to start by challenging the unholy American trinity of guns, God, and violence.

I never presume to speak for God, but I think I’m on solid ground when I say that God doesn’t accept the slaughter of God’s children in schools, churches, concert venues, nightclubs, theaters, businesses, or anywhere else.

God does not approve of us doing nothing in response, making the next slaughter inevitable.

God doesn’t say murder is unavoidable in a gun-soaked society, so just send hashtag prayers and move on after the next one. And the next one.

God doesn’t approve of treating guns like sacramental objects.

Churches that embrace guns need to remember Jesus’ powerful lesson on violence. When one of his followers used a sword — the weapon of choice back then — Jesus told him to put it away. Then he healed the damage done by the weapon.

Those who put their faith in weapons have already died inside.

Instead of putting our fingers on triggers, we need to use our hands to heal. That’s what’s required to be a follower — a directive that wasn’t popular then or now.

We’re not Christian soldiers; we’re agents of love, healing, and reconciliation. We put our faith in the transformative power of grace, not the destructive power of guns.

We follow the non-violent ways of One who has already conquered the world without wielding a sword or firing a shot. And we can too — as long as we put our faith in the right place.

Joe Kay

Joe Kay is the associate minister at Nexus United Church of Christ, Butler County, Ohio. He also writes a weekly blog at His email address is listed on the blog, in case you care to contact him directly.

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