From the archive is a series of posts highlighting content previously posted on this blog that may be new to some readers or helpful to revisit: This post looks at a news article for a US church planning to give away an Assault Rifle during a youth event and argues against such an approach from a Christian Perspective.
The original post was published on 20th July 2008 and can be found here
Kids With Guns: Assault Rifle Giveaway at Youth Event
As crazy as this sounds, The Register is reporting that a Baptist Church in Oklahoma recently tried to give away an AR-15 Assault Rifle as a way of attracting young people to attend the church. Apparently a local TV station intervened to stop the annual shooting competition. A statement is now posted on the church Youth Conference Website about the media attention.
Although the shooting competition that was to take place during the Youth Conference had been canceled, due to false statements made by the Oklahoma City TV Channel 5 (KOCO) and subsequently reported also by media outlets across the country, a shotgun was donated last Saturday so that the competition could go on as planned.
If Congress, back when our country was fighting for its independence could give engraved muskets to the fifteen or so eleven year old boys that their teacher, Mr. Akins, led into battle against the British, then we can give away a firearm still today, especially since our Supreme Court just re-emphasized our Second Amendment rights.
The Register also has a quote from the Youth Pastor:
Bob Ross claimed the main thrust of the conference wasn’t about guns but rather “teens finding faith”. He stressed that the event featured 21 hours of preaching between bursts of gunfire, and defended: â€œI donâ€™t want people thinking â€˜My goodness, weâ€™re putting a weapon in the hand of somebody that doesnâ€™t respect it who are then going to go out and kill. Thatâ€™s not at all what weâ€™re trying to do.â€
Shooting recreationally is a sport and arguably an acceptable activity for a youth group, but why then make a big deal of giving away a rifle? Is that really necessary?
Using examples from America’s independence and the Second Amendment, the church now seems to be vehemently defending their right to bear arms and enjoy recreational shooting as shown by the emails of support published here.
I personally find it very difficult to reconcile the teachings of Christ with defending yourself and your property as this church seems to advocate. In fact Jesus was famously non-violent when faced with accusations, criticism and torture.
“Whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39)
Jesus taught enemy love with imagination. He gave three real examples of how to interact with our adversaries. In each instance, Jesus points us toward disarming others. Jesus teaches us to refuse to oppose evil on its own terms. He invites us to transcend both passivity and violence through a third way.
Shane Claibourne and Chris Haw: Jesus For President
I think Gorillaz helpfully articulated the horror of encouraging children to shoot each other:
Kids with guns, Kids with guns
But it won’t be long
They mesmerized, skeletons
Kids with guns, Kids with guns
Easy does it, easy does it, they got something to say “no” to