What do Second Amendment sanctuary counties say about our faith?

What do Second Amendment sanctuary counties say about our faith? January 17, 2020
In God we trust?
Photo Credit: chuckh6 Flickr via Compfight cc

The way some Christians talk, you’d think the Second Amendment was part of Holy Writ. Or at least that it should be. Never mind the conflict it creates with the ethic of Christ. Take this new phenomenon of sanctuary counties for example.

Now, if you’re a good progressive, you’ve probably heard about sanctuary cities. According to America’s Voice, an advocacy platform dedicated to the full labor, civil, and political rights of immigrants and their families, a sanctuary city is “a city (or a county, or a state) that limits its cooperation with federal immigration enforcement agents in order to protect low-priority immigrants from deportation, while still turning over those who have committed serious crimes.”

But there’s a new kind of sanctuary on the block — the Second Amendment sanctuary. You might have heard about the ruckus in Virgina over the past few weeks. After Democratic lawmakers introduced new gun control legislation, gun-rights advocates in over three dozen counties came together to declare sanctuary in the event that such legislation is ever adopted. The situation intensified when law enforcement began to intercept “extremist rhetoric” that was “similar to the lead-up to Charlottesville” just days before a rally in the capitol, according to Vice News.

Democratic lawmakers promptly backed down. Power to the people, I guess.

Since the dust-up in Virginia began, my own county in southern Ohio has declared itself a Second Amendment sanctuary, as did the county I grew up in just across the river. I’ve been following the hoopla on social media this week with a great deal of interest.

What intrigues me most about this debate is the way so many of my Christian counterparts get caught up in it. I don’t have anything against guns personally, and I’m less stringent on my non-violent ideals than I used to be, but I firmly believe we need to consider how deeply entrenched western Christian conservatism is in the myth of redemptive violence. I wrote about this last August when I pointed out that contrary to progressive opinion, guns are not America’s problem.

You want to be all about the Second Amendment? That’s fine. I think the right to bear arms is important, especially for minority groups. Gun control measures were first introduced in America as a way of controlling the Black Panther movement, after all (even the NRA supported gun control back then)! But if you also claim to follow the ethic of Christ, which, while not exactly pacifist, is still very much concerned with non-violent enemy-love, you really should examine where you stand on this issue.

Just think about it — that’s all I’m asking. What does all this clamoring for gun rights say about where a person’s sense of security really lies?

If, after a period of thoughtful theological reflection on this issue, you still come out on the side of “God and guns,” that’s cool. We can still be friends. But as long as I remain in a position of influence within that eclectic body of people commonly known as “the church,” I’m going to press my conservative friends to consider whether or not there is any tangible meaning to the words of the Psalmist: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7).



About Joshua Lawson
Joshua Lawson is a pastor, writer, and spiritual caregiver. He lives in southern Ohio with his wife and kids and their cats. He loves strong coffee and good books. If you'd like, you can support his work at www.patreon.com/JoshuaLawson. You can read more about the author here.

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  • Perry Ross

    You sir are a sham and a joke. Wasn’t it the figurehead of your death cult Jesus who stated “if you don’t have a sword sell your cloak and buy one”? Your leftists Bolshevik BS is disgusting. My faith and my gods plainly said in the Havamal stanza 38
    “A man should not step one foot
    forth in the field without weapons.
    One cannot know, when on the road,
    when he will need his spear.”

  • Ed

    You missed the mark. The point is the right to self defense….. “If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him . . .” (Exodus 22:2).
    That self defense extends from your person to your family to your home. Whether you are protecting yourself from “ a thief in the night” or a tyrannical government (England 1776), you have the right to do what is necessary.
    Beyond that, each and every restriction on our rights is a further loss of freedom. Chip away enough, eventually freedom falls…one need only look at China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, the myriad of countries that have fallen to total government control.

  • I can tell you put a lot of thought into that comment, Perry. Thanks for chiming in.

  • Assuming you consider yourself a Christian, Ed, I’d love to hear how you engage this issue from the standpoint of Jesus’ ethic. Care to give it a shot?

  • abb3w

    Democratic lawmakers promptly backed down.

    Not so much; a “red flag” bill just passed the State Senate, and is now before the House of Delegates, which is under Democratic control. Stay tuned….

    A quick poke at the GSS suggests that support for gun control laws (such as requiring a permit) appears to be nearly independent of self-identified strength of religiosity, belief in God, or rate of church attendance. There is a slight correlation on Bible interpretation, with those who interpret it as the Literal Word Of God tending less supportive of gun control than those who view it as Fables; however even that seems quite modest.