taking the words of Jesus seriously

The big lie is being exposed finally. Gun rights advocates continue to say they want their guns for sport, and self defense from all the criminals and mentally ill out there.

But now the truth.

They are getting ready for civil war. Not a metaphorical culture war – but a real, bloody civil war. As unbelievable as this seems—as much as I would love to be proved wrong—the evidence is out there.

At the NRA annual convention, the face of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, said recent gun control efforts in Congress are efforts to “destroy us and every ounce of our freedom.” It is part of a larger culture war, indeed, but the rhetoric goes so much further.  And so many people believe it.

Alarms about imminent gun confiscation are an NRA staple, despite its implausibility. We do have a constitution and the Supreme Court has made it clear there is a right to bear arms.

No one but the far right fear-mongers are talking about confiscating weapons! And every time they do they reliably send firearm owners back to retail counters. Sales are booming.

And 3 in 10 registered American voters believe an armed rebellion might be necessary in the next few years, according to the results of a staggering poll released last Wednesday by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind.

According to the AP, the incoming leader of the National Rifle Association, James Porter has called President Barack Obama a “fake president, ” Attorney General Eric Holder “rabidly un-American” and the U.S. Civil War the “War of Northern Aggression.” And on Friday at the convention, he repeated his call for training every U.S. citizen in the use of standard military firearms, to allow them to defend themselves against tyranny.

Related: Following Jesus, The Best Gun Control Ever! – by Kurt Willems

All this because of efforts to pass universal background checks, which are supported by 88% of Americans according to the most recent poll data.

In other words, if they cannot win at the ballot box, they’re ready to start a second civil war.

Like good Christian citizens of the old South stood against Northern aggression, Porter implies, so now stand against … what? Liberal aggression? Multi-cultural aggression?  Non-white aggression?  Non-Christian aggression?  Our elected government?

In LaPierre’s Dec. 21 appearance, he called for armed security in all schools, scorning gun-free classrooms as an enticement to “every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.” More broadly, he described the country as plagued by surging bloodshed and dislocation. “Add another hurricane, terrorist attack, or some other natural or man-made disaster, ” he said, “and you’ve got a recipe for a national nightmare of violence and victimization.”  Sadly, this rhetoric is nothing new for LaPierre.

According to an article by Paul Barrett, in 1995 he spiced a fundraising appeal with references to “federal agents wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms” who “seize our guns, destroy our property, and even injure or kill us.” Those comments struck some NRA members as over the line, especially after April 19, 1995, when insurrectionist Timothy McVeigh blew up an Oklahoma City building housing federal agents, killing 168 people. Former President George H.W. Bush quit the NRA in protest.

And yet the Columbine (Colo.) high school massacre, which took 13 innocent lives in April 1999, prompted LaPierre to lean slightly in the other direction. At an NRA convention in Denver shortly afterward, he endorsed gun-free schools. “We believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools, ” he told attendees. “That means no guns in America’s schools, period.”

In congressional testimony, he urged lawmakers to expand the computerized Federal Bureau of Investigation background check system for sales by federally licensed retailers to cover “private” transactions at weekend gun shows and elsewhere.

LaPierre’s Columbine response earned him no affection from gun control backers and mostly disdain from “the base, ” says Richard Feldman, author of a 2007 memoir, Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist, and a former NRA operative. “Wayne took incredible grief among the more extreme elements, and he must have resolved, ‘never again.’”

So this hypocritical opportunist who receives nearly a million dollar salary has completely reversed himself so as to placate the far right of his organization and keep his lucrative post.

Related: Put Your Guns Away – by Patrick Anderson

Apocalyptic rhetoric reverberates through American gun rights circles. Matt Barber, vice president of Liberty Counsel Action, a Christian-right advocacy group, warned in a Jan. 11 article on the WorldNetDaily website that by pushing gun control in the wake of Sandy Hook, Obama was “playing a very dangerous game of chicken” with firearm owners: “I fear this nation, already on the precipice of widespread civil unrest and economic disaster, ” he wrote, “might finally spiral into utter chaos, into a second civil war.”

The battle on this issue is so much along the lines that divide Republican and Democrats, rural and urban, white and non-white.

Those raised with guns on farms and in rural areas see them as positive tools for sport and work, as well as for defense against wild animals.  Those in cities tend to see guns negatively as that which causes so much unneeded death and destruction in the hands of anyone, including abusive spouses, drug dealers and young men in gangs, and suicidal people.

We all know how much of society needs fixing.  The mental health system struggles with way too much need and too little resources.  We constantly work with how to help the neediest among us without hurting the middle class.  And we shudder at the inequality of the super-rich who control so much of the power of society, while also trying to allow for the incentive of private initiative in our capitalistic system. We know the problems of keeping government accountable.

But if we do not start really listening to each other and try to find common goals, instead of preparing for violent confrontation, we may well experience a new civil war as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I read comments from conservatives online that say, almost literally: “Liberals and progressives and anyone else but us, are too stupid, naive and immoral to understand the peril we are in. So since we can’t persuade you by our logic and evidence, then we will have to preserve our peculiar American way of life by force. By imposing your values on us you leave us no choice.”

Forget the ballot box and elected officials and trying to win the court of public opinion.

This attitude—blaring in online blogs and by radical right commentators—says in effect:  “We will not let you take our guns like you’ve taken our moral values, and bankrupted our economy by your socialist income distribution schemes like welfare. We will die first before you destroy our country, and force your immoral, gay rights and abortion rights ways on us anymore. And because you won’t defend the country properly against the threat of Islam by sending missiles and troops to destroy Islamists, it means you actually support them and we will need to defend ourselves from that invasion as well.”

Is it any wonder then, that nearly 30 percent of registered American voters believe an armed rebellion might be necessary in the next few years?

The Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind survey, aimed at measuring public attitudes toward gun issues, found that 29 percent of Americans agree with the statement, “In the next few years, an armed revolution might be necessary in order to protect our liberties.” An additional five percent were unsure.  Eighteen percent of Democrats said an armed revolt “might be necessary, ” as compared to 27 percent of independents and 44 percent of Republicans. Support levels were similar among males and females but higher among less educated voters.

This is where the NRA and conservative, political fear-mongers’ rhetoric is heading the country.  The lie is stated over and over again that the true goal of any kind of gun-control effort is disarming law-abiding citizens in preparation of taking away the rest of their constitutional rights.  Universal background checks will inevitably lead to government tyranny, they say.

This is ridiculous fear-mongering, and an outright lie.

Instead of trying to understand where the other is coming from and working to forge a common goal, these people want all or nothing.  And if it is not their way, then they now state they are ready to war against those who disagree with them.

Also by Tom: Why this Republican Voted for Obama but is Not (Yet!) A Democrat

This is not a new American Revolution.  Unlike the first, we have representatives now, even if we don’t like the taxes they sometimes enact.

This is a second Civil War brewing.

Much like the first Civil War, it is about a way of life perceived as being threatened by a majority with whom the minority disagrees.  There is so much fear of what might be, stoked by all too many who profit by the paranoia they create.  Fear is good for fund-raising and for radio show hosts.

They demonize their opponents so they can dismiss them, and avoid having to consider the other’s point of view as anything with any validity.

And like our first Civil War those who proclaim to be Christian have wrapped their faith in cultural values and made them one; so much so that they cannot see that they are or should be different.

Sadly, this is the same situation as with the Taliban and other radical Islamists.  Religion is used in the service of cultural and tribal convictions, and violence is deemed acceptable because one’s lifestyle and culture are being attacked, even and especially by fellow religionists who are so wrong as to be the enemy.

America does not need the heretical abomination of “2nd Amendment Pastors” (as one minister wrote in a widely circulated email) preaching that your guns will set you free, so get ready for the coming revolution.

Jesus must be weeping.

With fellow citizens like these, God help America, indeed.


Tom McCrossan is an ordained minister in the Reformed Church of America, serving in special ministry as an Assistant Chaplain at a local rescue mission. His grandfather was a minister first in the Methodist and then in the Presbyterian Church. His uncle served at the Victory Service Club of the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles. He is married with three grown children and lives in Schenectady, NY.

Photo Credit: Mark Van Scyoc / Shutterstock.com


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