St Alban’s Episcopal Church
Bolivar, Missouri
Friday, May 27, 2022 “God and Guns”

The murders of innocents when no lives matterGod and Guns
The slogan, “God and Guns” might not even be familiar to you if you don’t watch or read or listen to large numbers of our nation’s people. I have posted a few articles on my page, and you can look up many others. Just google “God and guns” and you will be horrified by the conflation of the sanctity of weapons and the “conservative” Christian worship of God. And it is recent. And it was not driven by a new or better understanding of scripture OR the second amendment, but a rejection of both for the sake of money and power driven by a concerted effort to make people more fearful. Both Chief Justice Warren Burger who served from 1969-1986, and Justice John Paul Stevens both advocated for the repeal of the second amendment citing its original intent – which was to provide for the ability of states to call up a “well-regulated militia” in the absence of a national standing army. We now have a standing army, and we have state and local police departments. The original intention of the amendment no longer applies.* This would not require the disarming of hunters or any others; but it would acknowledge that nobody has the automatic “right” to guns, especially those AR15’s modeled after military grade weapons that allow many people to be killed quickly. That is their single purpose. No real game hunter needs them. But the NRA thinks you do. And since 1986 the Republican party and way too many Christians have greed, linking it to “freedom” by instilling fear in their followers. That Jesus urged his followers to have nothing to do with retaliatory or any other violence, and in fact died rather than engage it, is a curious and tragic and deliberate misunderstanding of the Gospel. Justice Burger wrote: “This has been one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.” It was not until 2008 that the Supreme Court overturned Justice Burger’s and others’ long-settled understanding of the second amendment’s limited reach by ruling, in District of Columbia vs Heller, that there was an individual right to bear arms. Justice Stevens was among the four dissenters. And that is when the NRA was handed a political propaganda weapon of immense power.That the Church became complicit in this, should be shocking. I leave it to you to consider why, in most evangelical circles, it no longer is. And then be sure to vote. Vote according to YOUR conscience. If that is for Republican candidates, do it. I am not the monitor of your faith, or your vote.But I do hope to inform it. And remember, a vote is not a valentine. You aren’t confessing your love for a candidate.It’s a chess move for the kind of world you want to live in.YOU decide.

How do we get out of this?
Although we still use it, the phrase, “thoughts and prayers” now sounds obscene. It has become an empty phrase that substitutes for doing anything at all. However, prayer does matter if we are asking the right questions when we pray – and if we are prepared to do whatever our “thoughts and prayers” lead us to understand.

Bishop Diane’s letter is too long to reproduce here, but it will be available in print form on Sunday. I will also post it on the website and it is already up on our Facebook page. She has asked however, that we follow the ancient practice of a nine-day time of prayer before a great feast, in this case, Pentecost. She has included suggestions from the Book of Common Prayer, but you can also simply hold yourself open to God in silence and while praying peace for the families affected, seek to know what you – we – can do to break this alliance between Christian nationalism, a regressive political social agenda, fear of others and the actual liberating message of Jesus Christ the Lord. Memes like these should not represent American Christianity – not in the media – not in reality, either. Instead of seeing murdered persons as “collateral damage” to the “sacred” right to bear arms, we need to remember that biblically, it is human beings, real live human beings that are the sacred dwelling place of God in this world.

On a Happier Note
As his BKSM studies come to their end, Ryan Williams has been working on his class in liturgical practice. Among other things he has to practice officiating at Eucharist. This was his first trial run, setting up and going through the service.It is exciting to see him learning and practicing and reflecting on liturgy and worship and his eventual role as a priest. We aren’t there yet – and won’t be for some long months yet, but we’re getting closer!Pray for him and for Anna too these days.



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