22 July 2012

That Old Time Religion

It's Sunday, and you know what that means. It's time for guns and Jesus!


Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? I thought so, too, when the tagline first crossed my mind on Saturday. I tried to set it aside in favor of something else. As the day wore on, and the more I read in the news, I realized I wouldn't be able to drop it.

I was meditating on the awfulness of the shootings and killings that occurred in Aurora, trying to gain some understanding. It saddened me deeply to think that yet again something like this happened, yet again we will go through the cycle of shock, outrage and collective forgetting of the random, sudden violence that seems to be an unfortunate, horrifying earmark of life in the modern United States.

I told myself to send up a prayer that such a horror never happens to me, my friends and my family. I told myself to send up prayers for the victims and their loved ones. In many ways that is all we can do when faced with tragedies which have their only connection to ourselves through the medium of modern telecommunications technology.

I also hoped that outsiders with an agenda would exercise some tact and common sense, and refrain from using the tragedy as a sounding board for all manner of fear-mongering or idiocy.  Way too optimistic on my part, I know. Sadly, that lasted all of no time.

That some commentators on ABC News got way ahead of themselves by trying too hard to make a link between the alleged gunman and the Tea Party, based on very sketchy and unsubstantiated information, was bad enough. I'm no fan of the Tea Party, but the link between the perpetrator and them was so tenuous at that stage (and I don't think it has been substantiated even now) these veterans of the reporting trade should definitely have known better than to put it out there.

Trying to be the first to report, okay, I get that. Want to be cutting edge "on the scene", okay fine, just do a better job of fact-checking before trying to trump the competition. Really, it was way to early and so little facts were known that it ends up making them look stupid.

What really made me sick, and feeling so fed up with the culture of violence in this country, was one particular set of statements made by U.S. Representative from Texas Louie Gohmert. In a truly breathtaking leap of logic (or illogic, depending on how you look at it) that strains the bounds reasonable thought, he made the following remarks in a radio interview broadcast by the Heritage Foundation:

"You know what really gets me, as a Christian, is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs, and then some senseless crazy act of terror like this takes place."

"Some of us happen to believe that when our founders talked about guarding our virtue and freedom, that that was important...Whether it's John Adams saying our Constitution was made only for moral and religious people ... Ben Franklin, only a virtuous people are capable of freedom, as nations become corrupt and vicious they have more need of masters ... We have been at war with the very pillars, the very foundation of this country."

"People say ... where was God in all of this?...We've threatened high school graduation participations, if they use God's name, they're going to be jailed ... I mean that kind of stuff. Where was God? What have we done with God? We don't want him around. I kind of like his protective hand being present."
So he thinks that there is a link between random, mass violence and lack of religion. Furthermore, he seems to think it is specifically due to lack of Christianity. What is truly breathtaking in its willful irrationality is the connection he tries to make between supposed 'ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs' and the psychopathic actions of a single mass murderer.

Say what? How in the world does that even make sense? My guess is the perpetrator is a deeply troubled individual whose mind went places most of us cannot even imagine. I truly do not believe that it was a lack of Christianity that led to this; it was a pathological lack of reason and empathy. It speaks to narrowness of mind and arrogance of belief to claim this random act of violence as an attack on ones' belief system. Frankly, if Gohmert and folks like him are making Christianity look bad by claiming their religion had something to do with this crime.

But that's not all. It gets worse. He went on to speculate that the tragedy could have been lessened or stopped if only (you guessed it) more people in the theater had been carrying guns, and thereby could have taken down the shooter:
"It does make me wonder, with all those people in the theater, was there nobody that was carrying a gun that could have stopped this guy more quickly?"
Oh, for the love of humanity, really? A crowded theater full of people carrying guns? Is this man a complete moron? People who were in the theater have been quoted as saying they thought the commotion was part of the movie. And do I really have to point out that it is generally DARK in movie theaters, so between that and the confusion, the soundtrack with special effects a generally untrained population...how would anyone have been able to take down the gunman without hurting and killing even more bystanders? Does he not understand the concepts of "fog of war" and "crossfire"?

Not long after I read the above remarks, I saw that old worn-out platitude "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" making the rounds in the media and on Facebook. Oh, it made my head hurt and my heart sick. There is nothing that pisses me off more every time something like this happens, when the gun nuts and NRA puppets start squawking about not taking away their weapons or controlling them. It completely misses the point, and in no way is an excuse to NOT do something about guns and their potential for crimes like the one in Aurora.

What really galls me, makes me sick and angry, is that too often Mr. Gohmert and many like him seem to think it was a lack of guns and God that lead to these tragedies. There I must emphatically disagree; sometimes I think this country suffers from a surfeit of both.

But he and many others are willfully missing the point. It is neither Christian belief or the right to bear arms that matters here. The most important thing, what we should all remember, is that someone went berserk and yet again the blood of innocents is on the ground. Pray that it doesn't happen again. Pray that we all may find peace.


  1. Yeah, Louie Gohmert. What can I say that you haven't already? He's a narrow-minded hick conservative, pushing his political agenda, per the status quo. It comes as no surprise to me, a long-time Texas resident who cringes when she sees things like this. But hey, yee-haw! Maybe if I go to church and get a nice sermon, I will learn to understand such things.

    Yeah. That's gonna happen.

  2. amen brother...the vultures wait for stuff like this to push their agenda...its like politicians making political promises...they really dont care if their ends can be met...it galls me the idiots on all sides of the fence...if we did not live at the polar opposites of staunch beliefs and were so self concious we felt threatened ...i dunno. i am making little sense..and i can only hope it never happens again...


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...