Christianity promotes gun culture that allows ‘epidemic of mass shootings,’ claims New York Times essay

Author linked Christianity to mass shootings because many gun manufacturers and owners are Christian

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A New York Times guest essay argued that American gun culture has been made all the more fanatical because of its ties to Christianity. It also claimed that Christianity makes mass shootings more possible. 

Author Peter Manseau, a religious author, wrote in his Thursday piece, "But many of our fellow citizens don’t just own guns, they believe in them. They believe the stories told about guns’ power, their necessity, their righteousness."

Manseau theorized that this is what has happened at the intersection of American Christianity and the Second Amendment. He opened his opinion piece with the question, "Is our gun problem a God problem?"

The author attempted to poke a hole in the narrative offered by many religious, Second Amendment supporters, that the problem with mass shootings in America "is not guns, it’s hearts without God." 

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New York Times opinion piece claimed that guns like the AR-15 carbine, are given almost religious significance by Christian Second Amendment supporters.

But Manseau asked that if "declining religiosity" bears "some of the blame," then why are so many gun manufacturers, and gun rights supporters Christian. He wrote, "Daniel Defense, the Georgia company whose gun enabled the slaughter at Robb Elementary School, presents its corporate identity in explicitly religious terms." He mentioned how the company often advertises with Bible verses.

"Its weapons have now been found at the scene of two mass shootings — Uvalde and Las Vegas — that left a combined total of 81 people dead," he wrote, before claiming that there are plenty of other explicitly Christian gun manufacturers. He also added that "evangelicals have a higher rate of gun ownership than other religious groups. Across the country, they account for a significant share not only of the demand but of the supply."

Thus, Manseau declared, "For many American Christians, Jesus, guns and the Constitution are stitched together as durably as a Kevlar vest." 

Manseau argued that this Christian intermingling with the Second Amendment takes it a "step beyond the ‘natural rights’ argument for gun ownership, which holds that self-defense is a law of nature required to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Now it’s about God taking "an active interest in the availability of assault rifles."

NY Times guest essay speaks to Christianity's influence on American gun culture. (iStock)

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That psychology makes it so that "selling weapons is at once a patriotic and a religious act" for many people, which makes limiting such weapons a harder task. Manseau explained, "Proposing limits on what kinds of guns they should be able to buy — or how, when, where and why they can carry them — is akin to proposing limits on who they are and what they should revere."

The author then called the "Good Guy With a Gun" trope "ultimately a religious vision of a world in which good and evil are at war, where God and firepower make all the difference."

Manseau did clarify that "The evangelical influence on the sale, use and marketing of firearms in the United States does not mean Christianity is at fault for the recent spate of shootings," though elsewhere he wrote that "Christian ideas may be contributing to a gun culture that abets our epidemic of mass shootings by helping to keep the nation well armed."

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"The religious contexts of our seemingly eternal problem with gun violence — its history, its theology, its myths — are too important to ignore," he added. 

A banner hangs at a memorial outside Robb Elementary School on Friday, June 3. (AP/Eric Gay)