First of all, you cannot say America is a country that trusts in God while failing to work for practical solutions to the obvious gun violence problem we have in our midst. Such work is the very by-product of faith. To trust in God is to work for the common good.
Surely by now you must acknowledge that the problem is more than just personal. There is a dimension to this that is perpetuated by the very systems and structures of our society. There is action we can take, policies we can enact, and care we can offer on a structural level that will at least lessen the incidence of mass shootings like those we have witnessed in the last two weeks alone.
I say this because I notice that evangelical Christians in particular have become very good at explaining away each specific shooting in ways that conveniently allow them to just ignore the problem and do little or nothing to work for systemic change.
At the same time, evangelicals have perfected the art of mobilizing collective action around other causes they believe in such as the abolition of abortion, the prohibition of gay marriage, and the protection of a whole array of religious liberties they enjoy.
To those Christians, I say: you celebrate victories around these causes under the full conviction that you are building a more Christian society with each win. But I have to ask…on the verge of the overturning of Roe v. Wade… is a Christian society the kind of place where the unborn are protected but gun violence runs rampant? Is this really what a Christian society looks like? Should you not do something about this, if you really trust in God?
This is an invitation and a charge: Why not direct your collective energy to acts of compassion for all life, including the protection of lives that are threatened every day by irresponsible policies pertaining to firearms?
Jesus, the one you claim to be your Lord, has told you plainly that you cannot trust in both God and money. The same is true of guns. So, the question is simple: do you trust in God…or guns? You cannot trust in both.
I can’t help but feel that those who would defend their right to bear arms at any cost have failed to trust in God by their support of the political power brokers who block important policies regulating the proliferation of assault weapons in our society. Instead, I see countless Christians bowing to fear in the name of freedom and, as a result, they have given free rein to the senseless violence that has plagued our country for far too long now.
I note that so many political leaders that are backed by evangelical Christians are eager to criminalize abortion but then they turn around and vote against the appropriation of funds to address the shortage of baby formula that is causing immense hardship for countless households today. Do you value life? Then act like it!
In a similar act of hypocrisy, those same leaders claim that our gun violence problem in the United States is really just a mental health crisis…but then they turn around and gut the funding of important mental health programs that are needed to address this problem.
So, to all the Christians offering “thoughts and prayers” today, I have to ask again: just who do you trust? You cannot say you trust in God and then stand by and do nothing but make excuses for the lack of progress we have made in this area.
Remember, faith without deeds is dead. Faith acts. Faith moves. Faith calls for hard choices to be made that will contribute to healing and to our collective wellbeing. Christian: if you say you trust in God, it would be better for us all if you would just act like it and spare us all your half-hearted prayers.
In God we Trust?
reflections by Rev. Troy B. Cady