MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
I have always had contempt for the notion that God picks sides or that God wills something to happen. First of all, it sometimes appears far too many diverse faiths believe that God is worth fighting for. This makes wars a battle between Gods with millions of victims over the centuries. All in the name of God. Second of all, God never appears to have a voice confirming which side he or she or they are on. We are forced to take it on the faith of the believers in a particular religion.
Of course, we in the United States have our pledge of allegiance to remind us that God is supposedly backing American exceptionalism: "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Is the idea that the God we are under is ensuring the "indivisible with liberty and justice for all" part? Given that these goals of a democracy have been fought for with blood -- and are currently slipping even further away -- it seems that "God," in this context, is simply used to justify the status quo.
On February 27, Courtland Molloy reflected in the Washington Post that "it seems as if God is everywhere now, but I'm not always sure who or what people are referring to when they talk about God." In fact, try to present evidence of God's involvement in everything from health to wars and it would earn you a "pants on fire" on the PoliFact Truth-o-Meter. One of the interesting "God is on our side" claims, Molloy reports, comes from Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association (NRA). At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) a few days ago, LaPierre stated:
There is no greater personal, individual freedom than the right to keep and bear arms, the right to protect yourself, and the right to survive…. It's not bestowed by man but granted by God to all Americans as our American birthright.
To this, Molloy sardonically responded, "A 'birthright' that results in the deaths of so many children." Is this the plan of the US's Christian God? The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre of 17 students is coincidentally the 17th US school shooting in the first 45 days of 2018, according to NBC News. This is "more than twice as many as this time last year." Does this mean God is napping on the job?
What is most disturbing about LaPierre's statement is that guns are now no longer solely relegated to an issue of legal bickering over the Second Amendment. Firearms are now, in essence, granted a holy status, because God is being invoked to defend them. The US Constitution doesn't matter, LaPierre implies, because the Good Lord has sanctified guns along with life itself.
In his tweets, Donald Trump has been teasing that he might do "something" about gun violence. However, any significant actions are undercut by a statement he made to US governors, who he met with at the White House on Monday. According to a February 26 article in the Washington Post,
He did not, however, throw his support squarely behind any particular legislative proposal Monday, including measures he previously floated that would raise the minimum purchase age for rifles, mandate comprehensive background checks for gun buyers and ban "bump stocks," which allow widely available semiautomatic rifles to fire like fully automatic guns.
Instead, Trump trumpeted his close ties to the leaders of the National Rifle Association, and he predicted that the powerful gun rights organization would "do something" to respond to the escalating concern nationwide about guns.
"Don't worry about the NRA," Trump said. "They're on our side."
Therefore, in Trumpland, the NRA's side (God's side?) is the right place to be, even though the massacres keep occurring.
Bob Dylan addressed the same conundrum of a God who doesn't intervene to stop deadly occurrences in his 1963 song, "With God on Our Side." In his concluding verse he wonders, "If God's on our side," then shouldn't he stop any forthcoming wars?
So now as I'm leavin'
I'm weary as Hell
The confusion I'm feelin'
Ain't no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God's on our side
He'll stop the next war
It doesn't seem that God will the next war -- conflicts pop up around the world unceasingly. Nor does it appear that massacres in schools or elsewhere abated in this way. If the NRA believes God is making firearms holy, be prepared for more mass bloodshed.
Only when we renounce our culture of violence will we significantly turn the corner on gun violence. Guns are not sacred.