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This is in response to the Nov. 27 letter, “Fed up with US gun culture.” I recently read a book titled “America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose,” by James E. Atwood. The author, a Presbyterian pastor, cautions that the “Gun Empire” encourages an absolute faith in guns and violence that easily becomes spiritual idolatry and that the gun idol requires daily human sacrifices.
Atwood has spent many years fighting against the easy access to firearms. He documents how Americans have been deceived into believing that the tools of violence, whether they take the form of advanced military technology or a handgun in the bedside stand, will provide security.
He closes with a wake-up call to the faith community. He suggests that people of faith, especially clergy, consider 15 specific actions the Presbyterian Church (USA) has declared necessary for the saving of lives from gun violence.
These include: taking responsibility to build public awareness of gun violence; designing liturgies that call for periodic preaching on gun violence and prayers for the victims and perpetrators of gun violence and confession of our own complicity in the toleration of violence in all its forms; supporting advocacy bodies in advocating for gun violence policies that receive wide public support; and partnering with other churches and faith-based institutions to create and sustain a national, activist faith-based social movement.
Atwood concludes that we must learn to speak the truth in love to the powers and principalities of the “Gun Empire” and unmask the gun idol.
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