Monday, May 16, 2016

Church and Guns

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant recently signed a bill allowing people in his state for churches to legally have armed security.

Let that sink in.
Note the props: Reagan book, Bible with holstered gun on top
When a national gun culture finally invades your churches, your religion, it's really time to pay attention. Arming churches is not a religious reaction. It's a human, scientific reaction. We don't need to arm and militarize churches. Yes, they have been attacked. But few and it's not really reasonable in arming your church.

Religion should be a baseline for humaneness, for peace, spiritual security, for joy. Historically, for sanctuary. Not for anger, not lethal reactions.

This lack of continuity between religion and believers is untenable and hypocritical. People fear putting their beliefs on the line. They always have. And yet, they have martyred themselves to perpetuate their beliefs. Beliefs that have inspired countless millions over thousands of years. But many now see that it is better to arm their church, than to possibly die for their beliefs.

When I think about Church, about guns, I think back into my past. Back to when I was in the Air Force. My final main base was in Spokane, Washington. In 1975 I was at Fairchild AFB, a nuclear bomber base in the Strategic Air Command (SAC). We had fuel tankers, B-52 bombers, and were on alert 24/7/365.

In about 1977, I got friendly with the guy who gave out equipment in the base gym. My friend and I played racquetball every other day and lifted weights on those other days. If we needed anything we'd go to the equipment room attendant. We got to talking over a period of weeks about things in general, "guy stuff", guns and eventually, oddly enough, religion. Then one day he asked if I wanted to go to his church.

I was at a point in my life where I was ex Catholic, had been head altar boy at our church and in fact had been the altar boy serving at our old priest's open casket Mass for his funeral. My first time seeing a dead person. He looked good, the gentle kind soul I had known for years and served Mass with.

Later I went to a single final and graduating year of Catholic primary school (eighth grade). As I entered my young adult years, I was looking into the universe to see what there was, other than what I had been taught. I read a lot of books on philosophy, religion, even magic, a sign of the times in the 60s and 70s. You name it.

So with an invite to visit what sounded like a cool church, I figured, why not?

I told my wife about it. She probably couldn't have been happier that I wanted to go to church. After all, she was raised Baptist and we had been married in her church. Yes, the whole big church wedding and all. We divorced the year I got out of the Air Force. The guys told me when I arrived at my main base that no one survives that base and remains married. There were a lot of divorces, a lot of philandering, mostly with wives of enlisted fooling around with officers, especially pilots, the God's of the Air Force.

So my wife and I agreed to check out the guy's church with him and his wife. I told the guy the next time I went to the gym. Which was the next day. He said he would pick us up with his wife on Sunday morning and he would drive.

Well, that's nice of him, I thought.

Government as an entity, is typically rather stupid. Elements within the government however can be quite intelligent. yet there is a healthy dose of stupid among the employees. I was about to be stunned by the stupidity of this "nice" guy from the gym.

He had told me to bring my gun, that it was cool to wear a gun to church. I thought that was odd, but hey, I was open to see new ways of viewing the world. I carried concealed, legally, my Walther PPS\k .380 auto. Yes, I should have seen it coming. I should have seen something coming.

We headed out of Spokane toward the border. As we were crossing the border I got nervous and asked him about it. He said it was okay, the compound was in the hills of Idaho and it was beautiful there. About my concealed gun and his, and considering we were in the military, and I had a secret clearance unlike him, I was concerned about federal issues.

He said not to worry, you didn't need a concealed weapons permit in Idaho and where we were going it wouldn't be an issue. When we finally got there up into the hills of Idaho it was beautiful. We arrived at a gate that was unlocked and allowed us to pass. We were now on the property of the Church of Our American Christian Heritage. Beware a church that has in its name, "American" or "Heritage". Or any church who seems to have all the answers.

We drove up in his truck, a forerunner to today's SUVs. he pulled into an area of the compound with a traditional type well int he center and several buildings, one being an old fashioned church with the steeple and all. Several guys were wearing what looked to me like Nazi uniforms, only a different grey color, looking just different enough that you COULD claim, they weren't Nazi uniforms. When I mentioned the similarity (as well as the Hitler salute they used) they got offended. They weren't Nazis! Sure seemed like it to me though.

I won't detail the entire morning. But it was bizarre, surreal, disturbing, and scared the hell out of my wife. I worried if I didn't play it right, would I end up in the bottom of that well. They told us stories of how the local Sheriff was afraid of them and wouldn't come onto their property. The old ladies were the most racist people I had ever met.

Their national leader was there from Georgia to give a lecture at their church service. He didn't know we were there and were novices to their beliefs. He had really let go intimately detailing their beliefs and disgust at non whites, about the "cesspool of humanity that was Vancouver, B.C. Canada."

We got out of there eventually and never looked back. Don't get me wrong, these were very nice, polite and friendly people. I know deep down they meant well. But the things they believed in were immature, foolish, and frightening. As well as bad for humanity in general.

By time we got into the truck to head home that day, my wife had inadvertently nearly ripped off the sleeve of my shirt from repeatedly having grabbed it and holding on with dear life, while trying to look happy and at ease. Occasionally smiling and whispering she would say into my ear, "Get us out of here!"

The next day I considered telling the base about what was going on, but my racquetball friend talked me out of it. After all he said, those people know where you live and when you won't be home with your wife. It brought to mind a scary situation.

Gun and church do not belong together.

Pairing them is a massive warning that something is wrong. Perhaps, if your country has been invaded by an active force as happened in France, there is reason. But not here, not in America, and not since the Revolutionary or Civil War.

Needless to say we need a separation of Church and State, and Church and guns. If you want to protect your church from attack, try non lethal forms, try metal detectors, try anything, but leave your guns at home.

If your church is at all about death or killing, find another church. If your religion is death oriented like the three major desert religions of the Middle East, rethink your life choices.

Religion needs to be positive, life affirming and not about killing people.

No comments:

Post a Comment