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The Religious Roots of America’s Gun Culture and the Gospel of American Nationalistic Christianity

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  • Part 1: Billy Graham and the Gospel of American Nationalistic Christianity
    • Billy Graham is finally at rest, but we still wrestle with his complicated legacy.
  • Part 2: A Locked and Loaded Covenant: The Religious Roots of America’s Gun Culture
  • Tracing the historical and religious roots attaching to the sanctity of the Second Amendment.

Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest

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Part 1: Billy Graham and the Gospel of American Nationalistic Christianity

For the most prolific modern-day evangelist of not only Jesus, but a nationalistic American style of Christianity, this (lying in state in the US Capitol is the right ending to a complicated story. Billy Graham is finally at rest, but we still wrestle with his complicated legacy.

Anthea Butler, Religion Dispatches

http://religiondispatches.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/grahamPower.jpgFebruary 22, 2018 | Billy Graham’s death on the same day as the anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X is an interesting postscript to the life of America’s premier evangelist of Americanism. It would take an outsider to deftly articulate Graham’s mission. In his speech, Message to the Grassroots, Malcolm X said: “I have watched how Billy Graham comes into a city, spreading what he calls the gospel of Christ, which is only white nationalism. That’s what he is. Billy Graham is a white nationalist; I’m a black nationalist….”

I’m sure that Billy Graham did not like being called a white nationalist back then, and many evangelicals will bristle at this quote even now. With Graham’s death, it’s time to reconsider how his promotion of a nationalistic version of Americanized Christianity has influenced evangelicals today. Graham’s proximity to the office of the presidency and government since the Eisenhower administration is part of why we see scenes of eager evangelicals embracing President Trump. It’s also responsible for a large cohort of evangelicals who are actively supporting Islamophobia, isolationism, and America first policies.

http://religiondispatches.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/anthea_258.jpg Anthea Butler is a Contributing Editor to Religion Dispatches. Her book, ’The Gospel According To Sarah: How Sarah Palinin’s Tea Party Angels are Galvanizing the Religious Right came out in 2013. 

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Part 2: A Locked and Loaded Covenant: The Religious Roots of America’s Gun Culture

A review of Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz' Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment,  which traces the historical and religious roots attaching to the sanctity of the Second Amendment.

Peter Laarman, Religion Dispatches

http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100460830/Images/87286100460830M.jpg?1523210544437 March 7, 2018 | Garry Wills was being only slightly ironic when he wrote (in the wake of the ghastly Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando) that it is “theologically inconceivable” to implement real gun control in the United States:

  • God gave us guns to show us who we are. Giving up the gun would be surrender to evil, taking us abruptly into eschatological time …
  • The Gun is patriotic.
  • The Gun is America.
  • The Gun is God.

In her highly readable and timely new book, Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz deftly traces the historical and religious roots attaching to the sanctity of the Second Amendment in the minds of millions of Americans who are not gun owners or NRA members.

http://religiondispatches.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/laarman-150x150.jpg Peter Laarman is a United Church of Christ minister who served as senior minister of New York's Judson Memorial Church and then as executive director of LA's Progressive Christians Uniting before retiring in 2014. He remains deeply involved in national and regional social justice projects touching on race, class, and religion.

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Special Project | An Easter Holiday Reader, 2018

http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/default/files/Belief%20Banner_1.jpgJesus was killed because he was a speaker of God’s truth. He was an unrelenting advocate of justice. The resurrection stories make a profound declaration: Truth can never be killed and the truth-teller can never be defeated.

  • Part 1:Telling the Truth about Easter
  • Part 2: From the Archives | Misunderstanding Jesus’s Execution
  • Part 3: “I just don’t believe this anymore”: Why I abandoned my faith.

Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest

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Part 1:Telling the Truth about Easter

Jesus, a radical preacher who advocated for the poor, was crucified for turning over money tables at the Temple and other insurrectionary acts. His body was likely left to wild animals, but his chroniclers sought to glorify his ending with myths about a resurrection.

Howard Bess, Consortium News

http://consortiumnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/jesus-crucifixion-Mathis-Gothart-Nithart-222x300.jpg Depiction of Jesus’s Crucifixion by 16th Century artist Mathis Gothart-Nithart.

April 19, 2014 | On Easter morning, at 6:30 a.m. when sunlight is just beginning to glow over the mountains to the east of Palmer, Alaska, I will, as is my custom, arrive at a sunrise Easter service to celebrate the resurrection of my Lord. I have already checked the lectionary and reread the resurrection story as recorded in Matthew 28:1-10. Millions of my Christian brothers and sisters will be reading the same ten verses.

Millions of sermons will be preached based on the Matthew account of the resurrection, but very few preachers will make mention of the history and background of the passage. A typical minister will not share what he/she learned in theological seminary about the resurrection passages.

Howard Bess is a retired American Baptist minister, who lives in Palmer, Alaska.

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Part 2: From the Archives | Misunderstanding Jesus’s Execution

http://consortiumnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/jesusmoneychangers-300x244.jpg Over the centuries as Christianity bent to the interests of the rich and powerful, the story of Jesus’s fateful week in Jerusalem was reshaped to minimize its pivotal event, overturning the Temple’s money tables, a challenge to religious and political power.

Howard Bess, Consortium News
 

April 13, 2014 Christians have special celebrations for the key events of Holy Week, but they often overlook one of the most important.

Palm Sunday celebrates the entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. Maunday Thursday is a solemn replay of his last meal with his disciples. Good Friday takes us through his mock trial and his death of horror on a Roman Cross. Easter is the Christians’ triumphant celebration of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead.

Howard Bess is a retired American Baptist minister, who lives in Palmer, Alaska.

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Part 3: “I just don’t believe this anymore”: Why I abandoned my faith. 

http://media.salon.com/2014/12/god_jesus.jpg (Credit: Wikimedia)

Valerie Tarico, AlterNet

  • Sarah Morehead of the nonprofit group Recovering From Religion reflects on her tortuous path to godlessness.
  • From the Archives | Easter Messages, 2014

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Against Charity ~ Daniel Raventos & Julie Wark

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Angelina Jolie visits refugees in 2012. UNHCR / Flickr

Rather than creating an individualized “culture of giving,” we should be challenging capitalism’s institutionalized taking.

Mathew Snow, Jacobin

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https://www.booktopia.com.au/http_coversbooktopiacomau/big/9781849353045/against-charity.jpg 08.25.2015 | Imagine you came across a child drowning in a small pond and you were the only one around to help. You could easily save the child by wading in, although doing so would ruin your clothing and shoes. But if you don’t, the child will die.

It’s a no-brainer — you should save the child. Would the answer be any different if there were others around who could also help? No. Should it make any difference if the desperate child wasn’t directly in front of you? No.

Mathew Snow is a graduate student in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh.

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Series | A Nation Under Trump: Part 1 - What has the GOP learned since Trump's election?

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President Donald Trump in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington Oct. 13 (CNS/Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

  • The Series: As the anniversary of Donald Trump's election as president of the United States approached, the NCR staff wondered if the calls to action that persisted immediately following the election remained as urgent.
  • Part 1: This is what the Republicans have learned: Their winks at racism helped keep alive some of the ugliest impulses in American culture, and all it took was someone like Donald Trump to throw a match onto the kindling. If they do not find a way to distance themselves from this man, and drive a different message to their core supporters, the fire will consume them too.

Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter (NCR)

http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/default/files/Support%20Independent%20Media_0.jpg  Journalism with real independence and integrity is a rare thing. All reader supported Evergreene Digest relies - exclusively!- on reader donations. Click on the donation button above to make a contribution and support our work.

Nov 1, 2017 | Next week marks the first anniversary of the election of Donald Trump as the president of the United States. In one sense, we have learned very little about the man in the past year. He governs as he campaigned: mercurial, thin-skinned, populist, ill-informed, disdainful of democratic traditions and norms, narcissistic. This is who he is and none of us should be surprised.

But, in another sense, we all have learned important things in the past year, things about ourselves and our country, as we have watched our political system bend in the strong winds of the Trump presidency. In the next few columns, I will look at what we have learned and today, I begin by asking: What have the Republicans learned?

Michael Sean Winters covers the nexus of religion and politics for NCR.

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“You're F*cked': How Pouncing on Mistakes Helps the Right Escape Moral Responsibility

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  • I’ve argued before that the right wants to muddy up moral distinctions when it’s their actions that are under scrutiny. They say, in effect, “nobody’s perfect” in order to minimize their sins and even to excuse treasonous actions.
  • Related: When Feeding the Homeless Becomes a Crime

Jonathan Malesic, Religion Dispatches

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December 20, 2017 | If you make a mistake, another mistake, there is a very severe possibility that you’re both going to get shot,” says a cop to the man and the woman lying face down on the floor of a hotel hallway. It’s a video, with the camera sitting on the shoulder of another cop who has an AR-15 rifle trained on the man, making the scene look like a first-person shooter game.

The woman follows the hyper-specific orders—“You are to push yourself up to a kneeling position…. Crawl toward me”—and gets handcuffed. A moment later the man, wearing a T-shirt and nylon shorts, no shoes, is crawling on the carpet as the cop demands. He’s sobbing and seems drunk. “Please do not shoot me,” he asks. As he crawls, he’s trying to keep his left foot crossed over his right foot, exactly as the cop told him to.

Then he makes another mistake, and the police, true to their word, immediately gun him down.

Jonathan Malesic is a writer in Dallas. He is the author of Secret Faith in the Public Square: An Argument for the Concealment of Christian Identity (Brazos Press, 2009). His essays on religion, work, and education have appeared in The New Republic, America, the Washington Post, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and other publications. He has a Ph.D. in religious studies from the University of Virginia and is currently writing a book about the spiritual costs of the American work ethic.

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Related:

When Feeding the Homeless Becomes a Crime, Jon Miltimore, Intellectual Takeout 

More than a dozen people were arrested in El Cajon, California, attempting to distribute food to the homeless. 

 

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