All monotheistic (and some polytheistic) religions have an admonishment about worshipping false idols.

I cannot help but think of that right now. Because, as a nation, our unwillingness to confront unchecked gun violence and put our children before our guns makes me think that we must be worshipping false idols.

There are numerous religious leaders who have, rightly, taken up the call to lay down our arms and treat gun violence like the national health epidemic that it is. The largest Presbyterian denomination in the U.S. appointed a minister of gun violence — the Rev. Deanna Hollas — just last week. But my grief about this week’s gun violence prompted my return to a panel discussion I attended recently about the ways in which gun culture in the U.S. now closely resembles its own religion.

The scholars of the sociology of religion on the panel (three white men), pointed out that guns have their own Scripture (Second Amendment), flagship church (National Rifle Association), Sunday school (firearms training, gun shows, competitive shooting), liturgy (gun safety rules). The American treatment of guns in the current moment is more than a fetishization, they said, more than a cult, it has become a religion in its own right.

They discussed the moral order that the church of the gun believes itself to exist to protect: A mythology of whiteness and masculinity and a particular notion of women and family. As a result neither gender nor race can be readily separated from the church of the gun.

They made a compelling case. Their research seemed to bear out their points, especially about race and gender. Gender being my primary interest, I asked: “Given that these are men interested in protecting a particular idea of family, isn’t Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America — an advocacy organization created and advanced by women with the express notion of protecting children and families — uniquely poised to counter this ideology and mythology and, therefore, make headway on this issue?”

Three white men demurred. Two had no response at all. One waved his hand dismissively. “They’re not really all that organized. Or that much of a force ...” He trailed off, looked around the room, and took another question. The scholar’s pivot.

That interaction has stuck with me ever since.

The panel had a gender (male). The so-called “church of the gun” has a dominant gender (male). Religious leaders, in general, have a gender (male). Most monotheistic understandings of God offer a gender (male). The most recent shooters have a gender (male). The vast majority of all the mass shooters are (white) male. Most have a history of violence against women.

Meanwhile, the largest, most organized, most effective countervailing force around gun violence right now is Moms Demand Action, whether the men on the manel want to admit it or not. It is not a coincidence that their group’s name is also gendered and deeply connotative of family and the protection that women provide to children as mothers. The group is not composed entirely of women or even mothers, but its leadership and voices are. They take their cues from a long history of women taking action, of mothers recognizing danger and working to stop it. So often groups of women effectuate profound change in the face of violence. Argentina (Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo). El Salvador (CoMADRES). Liberia (Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace).

After the mass shooting in El Paso (and, tragically, before the mass shooting in Dayton), members of Moms Demand Action flooded into Lafayette Park across from the White House. An impromptu protest. A clear show of strength. A demonstration that they will protect American children and families, even if our lawmakers won’t, in ways that men with guns can’t.

Jennifer M. Simon founded the Wyoming Women’s Action Network, an advocacy group dedicated to advancing the economic security, health and representation of women in Wyoming. She holds a Master of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt Divinity School. Guest Shots are solely the opinion of their authors.

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(14) comments


The author should be more concerned with law as opposed to religion. A quick read would be District of Columbia v. Heller a Supreme Court case that has defined the Second Amendment. To further the writers ignorance, she chose insinuate the race of the three member panel. If the author would familiarize herself with the legal basis which supports individual ownership of firearms in this country, it would be helpful know that Mr Heller is an African-American. The right applies to all citizens, it is color blind.

Ken Chison

This guest editorial is comical, at best. The numbers are in for the past year. More people died from hammers and dull objects, blunt force, than by rifles. Evil assault rifles included. Now the real disheartening stat for the anti gunners. More than 4 times as many people died from knives and other sharp objects, than rifles. Evil assault rifles included also. So, gender bashing and racism aside, the author really should have done better homework before writing this, less than accurate piece.

Chad guenter

The media has been reporting 250+ mass shootings just this year. This is a new statistic they love to promote to instill fear and outrage amongst the uneducated public. They never give specifics on that number only their spotlighted stories(el paso, dayto, etc.) Here is an example of one of the 250+, why is the media covering the latest "mass shooting" from this weekend????

Yet another mass shooting leaves 6 wounded.

Chad guenter

The media isn't covering 99% of the "mass shootings", including this weekends, for a host of reasons. We can only guess why they aren't however.

Would the public come to the realization that our society has gone morally bankrupt, and value of life is absent?

Would the public see that Government run/subsidized/enforced inner cities are a complete and TOTAL failure?

Would the public grow completely bored of story after story of man's inhumanity to man (or woman)?

AmeriKan "news" media, is a propaganda machine. Nothing more.

William Addeo

This one has backfired on the News. Nobody is supporting Jennifer Simon because nobody wants to be associated with such an obvious racist commentary. If I would have written this article and replaced white with black, do you think the News would have run with it? Obama started the great divide and his sheeple follow the company line of undermining our culture, religion and constitution. Donald Trump is telling the truth and the skeletons are hiding in the closet.

How many people think it is a coincidence that Epstein is now dead and can’t rat the deep state?

Chad guenter

Individuals organize into a group, go after millions of other individuals that have harmed no one, have broken no laws, are productive members of their communities. They threaten to take their property by FORCE of government.

They call them murderers, heartless, perverts, and a host of other names simply because of an inanimate object they own that they refuse to give up. They seek to deny millions of the natural god given right of self defense.

What we have currently with this gun control movement is a demonization of millions of GOOD people.

This Opinion piece is a "personal attack" against firearms owners, men, and some would even say caucasians.

I dont believe the author and ALL those across the country who feel the same realize what they are pushing for, what it will result in, if they are successful... or maybe they do.

JHNG now edits out what they consider a "personal attack" in the comment section of a Personal Attack they PUBLISHED.

Chad guenter

And since you brought gender into this. How about a woman's right to choose???

Woman compares gun rights with reproductive rights at CNN town hall

“My question is do you believe a woman has a right to choose whether or not to defend her own body? And in the manner she chooses? And the government should not interfere with that decision?”

Chad guenter

The Religion of Government has served it's congregants so well over last 120 years. 262 million dead, killed by their own Clergy (government agents/actions).

All religions have had their dark times, killing in the name of ….. But Communism is probably the most deadly of all religions in human history. Where "The State" is the omnipotent, and anyone unbelieving is disposed of by the clergy.

Democide is the name for it. Look into it before you start calling for the stripping of the most basic of human rights from a population.

Really, those you have allied with in this "crusade", are completely ignoring the fact that LIFE and loss of respect for it is what drives today's tragedies.

EDITORS NOTE: This comment has been edited to remove a personal attack. Please be thoughtful when responding and be aware that we do have a commenting policy that you have agreed to when commenting on these stories. 

(Edited by staff.)

Christopher Clabuesch

Well stated Jen. Something tells me you struck a nerve.

William Addeo

Jennifer Simon - You say that women can protect America without guns, "In ways that men with guns can't." If it wasn't for men with guns, you would be speaking german or Japanese right now. George Washington used guns to free us from abuse. "It was government abuses of power, not abstract principles that drove the colonists to declare their independence." Gun control is people control. Do you understand that? Mass shootings cause mass hysteria. 300 dead kids a week from fentanyl are not worth talking about? If they died in a Jim Jones massacre, would it make news? 900 died with Jim Jones. That's only three weeks in American Fentanyl deaths. Does it matter to you that the mass shooters are left wingers or islamic terrorists? You are a race baiting writer and because you are a left winger, you will get away with it. You want to punish innocent legal citizens for something a criminal did. Remember, a conservative is a liberal that got mugged. God Bless America

William Addeo

Call the editor, Oh my God! How can we get rid of Addeo? Look at the racist, hateful, homophobic truthful stuff he's writing and we have to find a way to censor him. Let's have a meeting and ban him for good. After all, isn't that how H_____ did it? He burned the books and took away the guns and told everyone that he would protect them. Yea, let the government run everything except hollywood and we are the only ones who can tell anyone what to do. We know better, after all, look at Los Angeles, Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago and San Francisco that are run by democrats. Just because it's the highest crime, drug and unemployment rate, does't mean it's all bad.

After all, we have only been running these cities for over 50 years.

Why black people vote democrat is the biggest question today. I guess it's like the abused woman who keeps coming back for more. Mind control and fake news.

God Bless America.

Yea, that's how we ban him......He mentions God all the time. I thought we got rid of God? Isn't God hate speech?

William Addeo

Remember the last scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy pulls back the curtain and exposes the wizard at the controls of the giant screen that's terrorizing everyone? Well, that's the fake news media today. Talking heads actually glorify antifa as a legitimate group when if it was reversed, they would be horrified. For antifa to not be classified as a domestic terrorist group is proof of the anti-American fake news today. Imagine if you will, where we would be at if Hillary was president? If that doesn't scare you, you are part of the problem. God Bless President Trump and God save America!

William Addeo

The censorship, political correctness and imposed so called hate speech is only defined by the hater, not the writer. Try to write where the devil lives or the name of a certain German leader who died in the bunker at the end if the war and it will be scrubbed. Free speech? What a joke. Google, Facebook and twitter censor conservative dialog while allowing anti-American communist diatribes to go on unabated and everyone knows this to be true. Jackson used to be an American cowboy town. The infiltration of California wackos has poisoned the pond. They destroyed California and then destroy wherever they move to. Thank God for President Trump!

William Addeo

Now, let's have a discussion about black on black crime and gangs and murder. 57 shooting in Detroit last weekend with 7 dead. How about we talk about this for a change? You can spew you racism but my comment will be taken off because it is true. The truth has decayed into the cavity of the devil.

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