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In the wake of several mass shootings in the last two weeks (most prominent among them Buffalo, Laguna Woods, and Uvalde), it seems the time for flowery and sophisticated rhetoric is over. So let us begin at the conclusion and state it as directly as possible—any Christian church that is unwilling to actually do something about the scourge of gun violence in our country should strongly consider whether they hold any real value in our society. And that includes Adventism. While public statements are a necessary element of public response, they are no longer sufficient as the primary response of any institution, especially institutions like the Christian church in America, which continues to hold an outsized influence in our social and political culture. As a society, we find ourselves at the culmination of a five-decade project in evangelical Christianity to amass political power to reshape American society in accordance with one definition of Christian values. There are many within Adventism who supported and continue to support that movement. I cannot think of any better use of that accumulated power than to take decisive action to help protect the lives of our children.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11809
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Thanks, Jason. But you have more faith in the church and society than I do. Mine has been steadily declineing for quite sometime. Those that govern church and the civil world, by all appearances and rhetoric, are more interested in power rather than for the church or country.

I am reminded of Pilate and his wash bowl everyday!!

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Thoughts & Prayers. Thoughts & Prayers.

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for the adventist church to do something meaningful about gun safety, it’s going to need to confront the NRA, which means distancing itself from the GOP…this will tend to exacerbate the perception among conservative anti-vaxxer adventists that their church is far gone…

this means our church won’t be doing anything any time soon…

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Do you mean that “their thoughts and prayers” aren’t enough?

The rest of the civilized world, that obviously excludes some places on the planet, think this country is nuts. There was a French editorial that spoke about the “exceptionalism of America”, and then proceeded to point out what we are exceptional for…mass murders, and it proceeded to list the very long list of innocent lives that have been lost because 50 senators would sooner slit their wrists than go against the NRA…and why? It’s simple. If it wasn’t for the NRA, the Religious Right and the wealthiest 1%. They wouldn’t have a representative in either house. This piece was very raw and very much too the point.

Don’t think that these same Senators, the ones who packed 7 of the 9 Catholic justices in the supreme court are going to be there when they come for you. And I can guarantee that the NRA won’t be there for you either…but more to the point, if there ever was a time that Adventists need to stand for something, it is now. They don’t need your self serving thoughts and prayers, they need you to stop worshiping at the foot of the dragon.

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Personally, I entirely agree with the author, including the modest proposals regarding firearms expressed in the article.

And yet. I’m not sure I agree that this is the church’s role for a couple of reasons.

First, the author’s wording indicates he’s coming from a politically liberal viewpoint. So while it seems commonsense that he is right, that is also colored by his perception of how things should be. The position isn’t “let’s reason together”, it’s “obvious what must be done”. It is a non-theological political position and as such is it one for the church to engage in?

Secondly, there is a slippery slope here. Since it’s obvious the church should engage in a side on this position, then shouldn’t it engage on a side on some other position?

On the other hand, in 1840’s - 1860’s, the general SDA/Millerite position was against slavery, which was also a political question, so perhaps I argue against myself.

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Happy Sabbath and thanks for reading.

I’m not sure I necessarily disagree with your broader points. I would only say that I think the piece implicitly agrees with you. At one point I state that the church should do its research and support the measures that are in line with our theological positions. I think implicit in that is the reasoning you’re talking about. Also, I don’t think I need to tell you that something coming from a colored perception doesn’t make it incorrect. The only thing that I’m not budging on is that the church should try to do something. Clearly we can have a debate about that if anybody wants it.

Second, in many places I’ve talked about why slippery slope arguments are somewhat of a fallacy. We can always stop ourselves any place on the slope where we feel is too far. The argument that step one is wrong because a hypothetical step ten might be wrong is a bad argument in my opinion.

You said it yourself though and I was thinking of your example as I wrote my piece. The church has stepped in before. That means we have to explain why one breach is ok but not another.

Jason

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How is taking measures to reduce the carnage of innocent children a political position? I have total distain for politicians who are bought and paid for by organizations which continue to support the proliferation of firearms which have created 40 times more carnage than the next highest industrialized nation on the earth. This isn’t politics, this is insanity.

I was drafted in the army in 66 and went in as a conscious objector. I refused to carry a gun, but I served as a medic. Of the CO company I was in, there were about 400 of us, there were only 3 or 4 that were not SDA. I don’t know what happened to our church, but that has all changed. I am a very firm believer against firearms. Guns serve only one purpose and that is to kill things. And assault rifles are designed to kill as many things as possible in the shortest amount of time. All of which makes me wonder what has happened to our church. What has happened to our leadership? And what do we even stand for? If there ever was a modern-day prophetic revelation from God about this entire issue, you simply have to look no farther than Desmond Doss.

We’re not talking about politics, were talking about murder. Those children in Texas were not Republicans or Democrats, they were young innocent lives senselessly taken because we didn’t, as a nation, as Christians and as Seventh Day Adventists, say we need to keep guns out of the hands of immature, emotionally unstable, and mentally disturbed people. it’s called security checks prior to purchase. And we need to make weapons designed for war, such as assault rifles, out of the hands of the public, and left in the arsenals of the military, where they belong. No hunter or sportsman needs an AK47 to shoot a defenseless animal. This is a ludicrous argument that has been incorporated into the psyche of a political party, who fear their existence depends on perpetuating this craziness at the expense of more and more lives being sacrificed. And by being silent, we are complicit in that slaughter.

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Jason,

I respect your opinion and agree that the church should speak out about the evil of taking innocent human life. I think the call to discuss and agree on sensible gun control is also fair and needed (I do not own a gun but respect those who lawfully exercise their right to do so).

The taking of innocent human life is wrong. Period. What disappoints me about this topic is the inconsistency and selectiveness with which we call out (and do not call out) this evil. I say this not in response to what you’ve written because I don’t know what you may have written in the past but more about the church and society in general.

We should be outraged about Uvalde and all the other school shootings where innocent lives were taken. We know the battle between good and evil which started in heaven plays itself out to this day in our world. As followers of Christ, how could our hearts be anything but broken by these events?

I do wonder why these events stir such passion (as they should) while other events leave many silent. Are the lives of the hundreds and hundreds of innocent young (and old) people taken in our cities every year, year after year less valuable than those innocent children? Are the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent unborn children taken each year less valuable than those innocent children? Is our outrage determined by the narrative to which we align? Is not the taking of innocent life wrong-always and everywhere?

Perhaps agreeing to this is a place from which our church (and society) can begin to find its voice and speak out for change.

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no, i mean the politics of the situation is too much…

our church, and specifically NAD, already knows it’s on tenuous footing with many conservatives for essentially siding with the vaccine mandates, and refusing to recognize individual conscience and provide a formal religious exemption…it’s not going to go the second mile and distance itself from the GOP at this time, which is what it’s going to take to confront the NRA…too many adventist conservatives support the GOP…

this does mean that nothing will be done…

I have trouble understanding why there would be ANY that support the GOP. They don’t want to kill fetuses but continue to allow crazy people to have guns to kill living, breathing children. They are willing to support a narcissist who rivels Satan himself as being the most prideful, and vengeful human on the planet. They are supporting a party that has installed 6 of the 7 supreme court justices who are all Catholic, and at least two of them should never have happened, in a reasonable world. They are against helping the poor and disadvantaged, they are racists bigots and antisemites, and now they are replacement theorists a well, anti-intellectual, anti-science, conspiracists …I could go on for several pages, but what’s the use? It won’t change anyone’s mind.

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I believe that to get real movement, the bottom of the problem needs to be gotten to. There needs to be campaign finance reform. Real reform. Contributions from monied lobbies such as the NRA need to be severely curtailed or eliminated legally. Term limits also need to be instituted. Powerful lobbies need to be stopped from buying politicians in order to serve the lobbies’ interests, instead of the interests and welfare of we the people. That’s what’s happening here. Fifty corrupt Republican senators are obstructing real common sense change and justice being done because they are either bought by the NRA (think Ted Cruz), or fear their gun loving bases and the loss of their votes.

With that said, this is a real Catch 22. The bought politicians are the ones who have to reform the system legislatively. That’s like the fox guarding the hen house. It’s disgusting. If anything, the church needs to be a voice for real reform on all levels, to call for gun reform, and to call out the corruption behind it that helps fuel the violence.

It is a prophetic calling. Too much of the conservative Christian church has abandoned that calling and lost their voice by getting in bed with the corrupt powers.

I’m not optimistic…

Frank

Agreed.

Religious institutions, and the corrupt politicians they produce and support, are showing themselves-for the umpteenth time this year-ineffective to the point of actually perpetuating evil.

That is, Bible-thumping, gun toting conservatives tacitly abetted the latest atrocity in Texas just as Bible-believing, bleeding heart liberals have been unable to solve the ongoing problems of poverty, drug dependency or homelessness and thus have complicity in these problems.

Further, and based on several millennia of case study, there is absolutely no reason to predict that binary thinkers on either side will be able to put aside their simplistic “we good/them bad” dogmas long enough to find either a religious or governmental solution to any of the underlying issues.

Most importantly, prayerful promises of help in lieu of positive action must sound a pathetic mockery in the ears of the families of so many victims.

So given the abject failures noted above, added to the lack of any prospective change, the constant admonishment from more logical and spiritual factions to leave the “babbling on” of organized religions seems-at long last and once again-to be the most reasonable suggestion.

It is an error to label GOP supporters as bad. Liberal Democrats that run our six largest cities (Mayors and Prosecutors) do not enforce the many gun laws on their books now. The same cities have multiple gun shot victims most week ends----with very few prosecutions. This is wrong.

Our SDA church should never come down on the side of one party to demonize approximately 50% of our NAD membership in the other. GOP lawmakers, by in large seek to preserve unborn babies. No Christian should ever turn their backs on those babies.

I have voted for persons of both parties but I’m concerned with a drift toward a low level of hate from left of center politicians and their followers.

I may not be asked to join everyone for pot luck next Sabbath but my Mom taught me to always share my prayerful thoughts.

Overturning Roe vs. Wade will simply criminalize abortion, drive it back underground where it is much more unsafe, and do nothing to curb the rate. Abortion rates were actually higher per capita pre Roe vs. Wade than post.

Regarding safe gun policies, I agree that what is on the books isn’t enforced but needs to be, particularly in major urban areas run by Democrats. What is happening in major American cities is a huge failure.

With that said, we are talking about mass shootings, an epidemic of them. School shootings, houses of worship, theaters. Many are happening outside of major urban areas. Twenty have occurred since Uvalde…in just a couple of weeks! Many are in red states, the same that clamor for right to life. Whose rights and whose lives?? That’s the question.

We have a culture of God and guns in many of those states. Unfettered access to high powered weaponry is the norm. Put that together with the complex of young men with social and emotional pathology, and we have the toxic results we’ve bargained for. All in the name of second amendment rights. It’s a total distortion of the amendment’s intention.

The next twenty five developed nations in the world have the same types of social and family issues. Their people have the same access to violent entertainment and video games. They don’t have nearly the rate of mass homicides and massacres, and overall gun homicides that we do. A small fraction combined when compared to the U.S. What is the main difference? They have progressive policies concerning gun ownership, registration, and the banning of assault weapons, with no loss of other individual rights and freedoms.

Canada has had three mass shootings since 1997, the year of Columbine. The U.S…200! Australia instituted a gun buyback program in 1994, after several years of mass shootings. They have had zero incidents of such since. Zero in twenty eight years! Change is possible.

It’s sad to say that what stands in the way of progress and change for the right to life for all of us here is fifty Republican senators who advocate for the unborn, but could give two hoots about the rest of our lives once we’re out of the womb. Fifty, like Ted Cruz, who are either bought by NRA campaign dollars, fear their gun owning bases, or both. Power, money and corruption are in the way.

I had to endure a school lockdown this week. Silently in a room filled with elementary school children. We are forty five minutes from Newtown. Thankfully, the intruder was unarmed. After Uvalde and countless other massacres like that and Newtown, and Parkland, and Columbine over the past decades, that was not the first assumption. It’s pathetic that this is where our nation is, and what our cultural expectations are now. And that we have corrupt leaders who won’t do anything about it. It’s not about supporting one party over another. It’s targeting the inhumane policies and inaction of one, that claims to be pro life. They aren’t. They are hypocrites. SDAs who align with that? What can one say? Stay away from party alignment and evaluate stances on issues. Somehow, it’s what Jesus seemed to do in his day. Neither liberals or conservatives escaped his rebukes when they went off the beam.

The bottom line with this issue, where there is a will there is a way. We have politicians who don’t seem to have the will. It needs to somehow be given to them…radically. And, do we have it as a nation to support real change…or will we keep accepting the sacrifice of our children and innocent people as an acceptable trade off for present gun rights?

Frank

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