A group of religious leaders and activists claims the bible does not support armed self defense and that Jesus was “not an NRA member,” arguing loose gun laws are contrary to biblical teachings and gun rights have evolved into a religion of their own.
During a panel discussion dubbed “God and Guns” sponsored by the Religion Newswriters Association at its annual conference in Georgia, theologians said Jesus would not be advocating for his own right to possess a firearm.
"It's hard to articulate a strong Biblical case for a heavily armed society," said Mercer University ethicist David Gushee, according to the Huntsville Times in Alabama. "That's not Biblical reasoning; that's cultural reasoning."
“Jesus was not an NRA member,” Episcopal Bishop Robert Wright added.
The panel included members of religiously affiliated anti-gun groups and was intended to “help journalists across the globe cover religion with balance, accuracy and insight.” Several reports noted that there were no panelists who represented pro-gun religious group, and event organizers told Getreligion.org they did not know of any pro-gun religious advocacy groups.
The anti-gun religious opinions come just months after Georgia passed a law that in part lifts the ban on carrying concealed handguns in churches, leaving the restrictions up to the individual parishes. Several recent mass shootings have occurred at churches, with self-defense advocates arguing an armed worshiper might have been able to stop the crimes sooner.
Rachel Laser of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism told the RNA audience gun rights supporters are engaged in “the worship of idols.”
“And that’s blasphemy. For Jews, there is the biblical mandate from Leviticus: You don’t stand by while your brother’s blood is being shed,” she said, according to the Huntsville Times.
Writing for the pro-gun Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Rabbi Shlomo Yaffe uses the same passage from Leviticus, but sees it as a pro-gun argument.
“It would therefore be wrong to deprive citizens of the ‘tools’ most suited to this task, [like] firearms,” Yaffe writes. “Our Sages have a saying: ‘A broken wall calls out to the thief (to come in).’ If the law dictates that a citizen may not be armed, the criminals will arm themselves and be unafraid of opposition, as those who abide by the law will be defenseless.”
Some reporters at the religion writers event were angry that the pro-gun side wasn’t represented, arguing the RNA did a poor job picking the panel.
— Andrew Gross (@frandrewgross) September 19, 2014