Archive for January, 2013

Denominations and Gun Control

January 21st, 2013 No comments

I’m an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and serve a union church of the PC(USA) and the United Methodist Church. For this reason, it always pains me to see these denominations’ national lobbying arms reflexively leaping to endorse whatever dreadful leftist nonsense is topical. Today’s D.L.N. is gun control, and the tragic shootings in Connecticut are being used as cover for a very predictable liberal effort to disarm the populace, according to the right-wing gun nuts at the New York Times:

A new federal assault weapons ban and background checks of all gun buyers, which President Obama is expected to propose on Wednesday, might have done little to prevent the massacre in Newtown, Conn., last month.

But that doesn’t matter to the institutional left who lobby for mainline denominations and various other progressive religious groups. These usual suspects have thrown together something called Faiths Against Gun Violence. They have a website and everything, and a list of supportive denominations (as a .DOC file, of all things!). The left’s Long March through the Institutions is complete now, at least for mainline denominations. Count this as reason #796 why the mainline denominations have become utterly irrelevant except as mutual-admiration societies.

What impresses me about these organizations is their blind faith. Not in God or Jesus or the institutional church. No, these groups are interfaith or even inter-religious; even among the Christian members that kind of faith is pretty shaky and has to bend to whatever’s trendy in the popular culture. But the faith in the benevolence of government and its ability to transform society for the better: that is unshakeable:

By banning assault weapons and high-capacity gun magazines, this plan will do much to keep these weapons of mass destruction out of the wrong hands and prevent future tragedies like we saw last month in Newtown, Conn.,” said Jim Winkler, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society and chair of the faith coalition.

Weapons of mass destruction? I know that these people aren’t … well, they just aren’t especially bright, but, still, you’d think they could learn the difference between firearms and Weapons of Mass Destruction. Can you imagine the surprise when all their lefty friends learn that (by this idiot definition) Iraq had W.M.D.s after all?

But it’s not just Methodists. From the same article, we see that the people Presbyterians spend their money to employ in Washington are every bit as ignorant and hysterical:

The Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, director of public witness for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), said political leaders can resolve the problem if they only have the will. “We are living in a society in which gun violence is making everyone vulnerable to premature death,” he said. “With over 30,000 gun deaths a year in the United States, it is time that faith leaders and others call elected officials to committed action so that gun laws are stiffened and lives are saved.”

How many of those gun deaths are from the type of firearms they purport to be concerned about? How many are from handguns? How many are due to suicides? And how will stiffening gun laws save lives? The way that stiffening drug laws have kept drugs off the streets? Or maybe the way stiffening alcohol laws did?

Here’s a thought: if you want to stop mass murder, how about institutionalizing crazy people, like the nuts who carried out the Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown murders? How about arresting jihadis like the Fort Hood shooter?

And speaking of mass murder, how about appointing a special prosecutor to investigate President Obama and his Attorney General, Eric Holder, who have the blood of hundreds of Mexicans and at least two U.S. nationals on their hands from Operation Fast and Furious?

Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land

January 1st, 2013 No comments

Today is the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. I noted that on Facebook earlier today, and referenced Leviticus 25:10, the verse cited on the Liberty Bell: “you shall … proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.” That verse seems appropriate, since the Emancipation Proclamation represents movement of the nation toward the fulfillment of its long-held aspirations.

But someone responded to me with this: “So which verse should bear more weight, the one you quote [or] Lev 25:44-46?” Since very few of us have Leviticus committed to memory, those verses say:

Regarding male or female slaves that you are allowed to have: You can buy a male or a female slave from the nations that are around you. You can also buy them from the foreign guests who live with you and from their extended families that are with you, who were born in your land. These can belong to you as property. You can pass them on to your children as inheritance that they can own as permanent property. You can make these people work as slaves, but you must not rule harshly over your own people, the Israelites.

You see the point: the Bible says freedom but it also says slavery. The Bible is a terrible book and we’d all be better off if people abandoned those primitive superstitions and became humanists like Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, and Hitler.

Well. I thought the Emancipation Proclamation was a good thing, but apparently its real value is how it underscores the hypocrisy of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

But just because a question is asked in bad faith doesn’t mean it can’t be answered. Here’s my response:

[Name], which do you think? Abraham Lincoln evidently saw 25:10 as trumping 25:44-46, but if you’re more clever than him, that’s your prerogative.

I’ve observed how modern critics pick out the verses in the Bible that support slavery and say, “Gotcha! Your religion is evil.” Then they go buy a printer from a company that just announced 5000 layoffs, or a company that switched its offshore manufacturing from Mexico to China. I prefer freedom to slavery, and I think God does too, but freedom isn’t a panacea.

My impression is that the Bible’s instructions about slavery tend to place limits on an existing institution, kind of like the Bill of Rights. For example, the verses you cite say you may have slaves but only from the gentiles, not from your own people. In the following verses, it says that gentiles can enslave your relatives but you may not. This institution exists among the gentiles, it says, and you may participate in it only insofar as you deal with them, you may not let it make inroads among your own community.

You can see that glass as half-full or half-empty. Would it be better to reform the gentiles too? How would you do that without imposing your religion on them?

Since we’re analyzing Leviticus 25, what did you make of 25:3-4, rest for the land? Or Leviticus 25:13, returning property to people who lost it? Or Lev 25:14, the prohibition against cheating people? Or Lev 25:25, the requirement that people help out their relatives (rather than abandoning them to the mercy of society at large)?