Clergy Confessional (37) – Why are we so violent?

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Another mass shooting, this time in Texas. This was, again, a mentally ill man who legally shouldn’t have had a gun, lashing out at a church worship service because the family of the woman he committed violence against worshiped there. He hasn’t been labeled a terrorist (by some), but I think any act like this is done to cause terror. These acts of violence are becoming more frequent and violent, and many gun rights advocates continue to claim it isn’t about the guns – people kill people. Well yes, they do, but the bigger the weapon, the more people they can kill. These events are tragedies whether is a single teenager is killed on the streets of Chicago or dozens at a concert in Las Vegas.

There seems to be a deeper question to me – why are we, as Americans, so violent? We love our war machine, that which Pres. Eisenhower warned us about, calling it “the military industrial complex.” We would rather spend money on obsolete bombers than hungry children – we prove this all of the time. And when people of faith speak out against this prioritization, we are told to not be political. So I guess Jesus was being political when he preached the Beatitudes? When he blessed the peacemakers? When he warned the wealthy, powerful people of his time of their impending doom?

The statistics about gun ownership are well known – and I will say again that I support the Constitution in every way, from freedom of the press, religion, and onward. And while numbers of guns are comparable in other countries, gun violence is not. It is important to say that violent crime has been on the decrease for at least a decade – but mass murders have not. Another interesting and terrifying statistic – 54% of mass shootings are domestic violence related. That should scare us all.

I believe there is something deeply wrong in our country, and it has been wrong for a very long time. I don’t know if it is rooted in the deep racial divide that has existed since we were colonies, or our cutthroat greed masquerading as capitalism. Or maybe it is something else. Regardless of the reason, we need some healing across the board. We need to embrace equality and condemn bigotry. No longer can we put up with people saying that there are some good people in the ranks of Nazis. No longer can we allow women to be subjugated and abused by men, all the while using religion to support that wretched idea. If we don’t find a cure for that which ails us, it will make no difference who leads our country. We will continue to die a slow, agonizing death, eaten alive by the cancer of hatred. May there be peace – please God!

Pastor Steve Ohnsman has served Calvary United Church of Christ in Reading, PA since 1999. He has a B.A. in Religion & Philosophy from Wilmington College (OH), an M.Div. from Drew Theological Seminary (NJ), a D.Min. from United Theological Seminary (OH), and a Ph.D. from Alvernia University (PA).

Author: Pastor Steve Ohnsman