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Gun control is a religious issue

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By Kelly Rae Mathews

Gun control is a religious issue because a lot of what we think about guns and our freedoms — and weapons of any kind — is often informed by religious beliefs.

A lot of the religious beliefs that are part of how the constitution was written led to the right to bear arms. It was a transformative time. Much of the American rebellion was seen as deciding that the divine right of kings was no longer in force, and a new democracy was born that was founded, in small part, on the love of reason and pursuit of freedom and happiness.

 

What freedom and happiness mean is individual to one’s life.

 

Back then, it was a measure of protection and self defense in case something went awry. Our past was also quite violent, as much as it is idolized by some.

 

One wonders if there has been a survey done on who owns what kind of guns today and what religion, if any, the person sees themselves as. This could open some interesting speculation as to correlations. We may find some surprises, too.

 

Gun control is not just a separate secular issue. Guns, have to do with taking life. Every religion has a way of looking at what is sacred and how life should be lived and how one dies and where the soul goes afterwards.

 

The question is then, what kind of freedom do we have when there is the blood of so many innocent lives on our hands in the name of freedom?

 

It becomes akin to the question asking: How can God, or any religion, be just with all the lives of the innocent spilled because of guns?

 

So yes, because life is sacred a gun control is a religious issue.

About Kelly Rae Mathews

Kelly Rae Mathews
Kelly Rae Mathews grew up in culturally and faith diverse San Diego, Calif. during the 70s and 80s before moving to Spokane in 2004. Growing up in a such a diverse environment with amazing people, led Mathews to be very empathetic and open to the insights of many different faiths, she said. She loves science fiction and this also significantly contributed to and influenced her own journey and understanding of faith and values. She agrees with and takes seriously the Vulcan motto, when it comes to faith and life, "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations." Therefore, it is no surprise she has a degree in anthropology as well as English. She has studied the anthropology of religion and is knowledgeable about many faiths. She completed an anthropological research project on poets of the Inland Northwest, interviewing over two dozen poets, their audiences, friends, family members, and local business community who supported the poetry performances. Mathews gave a presentation on How Poets Build Community: Reclaiming Intimacy from the Modern World at the Northwest Anthropological Conference, at the Eastern Washington University Creative Symposium, the Eastern Washington University Women's Center and the Literary Lunch Symposium put on by Reference Librarian and Poet Jonathan Potter at the Riverfront Campus. She was a volunteer minister in San Diego for about 10 years while attending college and working in various editorial positions. Her articles, poems and short stories have appeared in Fickle Muse, The Kolob Canyon Review, Falling Star Magazine, Acorn, The Coyote Express, The Outpost and Southern Utah University News.

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11 comments

  1. Are you are saying that you think American’s legal/constitutional rights should be governed by religious views?

    • “How can God, or any religion, be just with all the lives of the innocent spilled because of guns?”

      This makes me think that if one is pro-life — against abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment — one should be pro-gun control, at least to some extent.

    • Hello, Eric, hello, Neal. I’m saying it is informed by religious views and ethics. I’m highlighting the lived experiences of what people were fighting for historically, and where we are now. I’m saying I would like to know if religious views are in anyway correlated to who owns guns now, and why. I’m saying, a lot of people say they want freedom, but what kind of freedom is it? I think it’s time to write a paper, perhaps I could even make it my master’s thesis, on how religious views and ethics inform how weapons are used and created to defend and attack ourselves. When the atomic age set in, it was said Man had achieved the power of God because of the ability to take life on a grand scale. This disturbs me greatly. What does freedom mean to people with the way guns and much more massive weapons are used in the world? I’m saying, as Neal did, that inasmuch as life is sacred to most religions and as much as most religions have doctrines about the after life and what happens when we die, since guns are there to take life, guns, like any weapon are a religious issue. So are nuclear weapons, so are biological weapons and so on. I know this much is true, as well, anthropologically speaking: in human evolution, language and tools go hand in hand. Weapons are arguably tools of a kind. As we develop new language and discourse, we change our tools, our weapons. As various threats arise, such as Isis or during the cold war, nuclear weapons have arisen, biological warfare, and now, drones. I’m wondering, as women enter the STEM fields, if there will be a change in how weapons are invented and made. Will women make and invent weapons along the same lines as men? Or from a completely different imagination place? The various technologies we have now, could be adapted and used to invent weapons that stopped destruction and war as we know it in its tracks. Howsoever, that would mean the beginning of an entirely new era, in which there was no more rape and etc. Perhaps I am just an idealist.

    • I don’t think we can say we should legislate based on our religious views. But if we pretend legislation has absolutely no moral side, we’re just kidding ourselves. It absolutely does. Just listen to Kennedy’s and LBJ’s speeches during the Civil Rights movement, to name a few. Or Lincoln’s, even. I don’t think we have to paint it as an issue of specifically Christian religion or one type of religion, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a moral or ethical question. When it comes to people owning other people, how could it not have been? I feel the same about people killing other people.

      • It is a challenging topic. I don’t think morals or ethics need to come from religion, personally. Yet, I recognize that many of our laws have been written informed by morals and convictions stemming from religious belief. Freedom of individual liberty and worship in America, was important to those who colonized it, as a result in part of fleeing the horrors of religious persecution in Europe and looking to establish a city where they could worship freely. Harken back to the old American Literature of wanting to build a Holy City on a hill. Being worried about one religion or any being in power in government was a concern. Ostensibly, no one wanted to perpetuate the previous horrors. Sadly, there were many other horrors perpetuated.

        Alongside religious conviction, our laws have been informed by Western Civilization’s philosophies on individual liberty, freedom and enlightenment, as well as our economic structure of capitalism.

        Our laws are quite complicated as a result. On one hand we regularly change our laws in ways reflecting our changing culture, on the other hand most of the religious books and their laws have not changed, but our interpretation of them has changed for some people.

        The great changes and laws and civil right s revolutions and women’s rights changes happened in no small part due to people’s great convictions. Without the hard work of people of faith who believed in a power greater than the law, they would have just been criminals. Now they are our activist heroes who brought about justice.

  2. And re: surveys, there have been no federal surveys on a national level, or research at all, because research funding on gun violence has been essentially blocked by the NRA for years. http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-gun-research-funding-20160614-snap-story.html

    • I think a demographic break down would be fascinating.

      Not sure I believe the one sided link about the NRA. They’re people not monsters blocking all attempts at rationality. (us vs. them) plus, there’s this http://www.pewresearch.org/2011/01/13/views-of-gun-control-a-detailed-demographic-breakdown/ I found after a cursory search on the giant G. Other than that, I really appreciate the points you made Elizabeth.

      • Good old Pew! There needs to be a lot more detail on who believes what that owns guns. It was interesting to see a pretty even split in some states I wasn’t expecting for there to be for or against gun control.

      • Yes, my link was an opinion column, but that doesn’t mean it’s not informed. If you’d like, look up the Dickey Amendment (circa 1997), named after the sponsoring congressman, which stipulated back in the 90s that none of the CDC funding from that point be used to advocate or promote gun control.
        The last CDC-sponsored comprehensive study on gun violence was published in 1993 in the New England Journal of Medicine. http://bit.ly/OXsadL

        Since then, basic data about gun deaths has been published regularly, of course, along with data about other types of homicide, but it’s lacking in any type of real analysis or scientific study. http://1.usa.gov/1fQiFEu

        So no, the NRA are not monsters. I never claimed they were. They are an advocacy and lobbying group – a very well-funded one, that’s given money to hundreds of members of Congress. This can also be discovered with cursory research. They have a specific agenda and they’re accomplishing it.

        • Thanks Elizabeth. Sorry I wasn’t saying you thought they were monsters, I know you don’t think that.
          Cheers!

      • Re: Pew, I think their research is fascinating and I cite it in my own columns often. I appreciate their work. From this, it appears gun ownership is favored more among the religious than among the unaffiliated, a result that doesn’t surprise me. It is a bit depressing IMO, but so be it.

        Pew is still a privately funded think tank, despite their nonpartisan position. I think government research into this topic – something that directly affects more than 30,000 people per year – is crucial and sadly lacking.