Fear provokes folks to do strange things. It inspired the president of the largest Christian University in the country to carry a handgun in his back pocket as he spoke to his students at a convocation this past Friday. He must be really scared . . . in the same speech Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr., encouraged those students to get permits so they too could carry concealed handguns.
I guess they’re putting together another kind of “Salvation Army.” Instead of ringing bells, they’re packin’ heat.
Sounds like Jesus!
That was sarcasm.
Jesus didn’t pack heat, he carried a cross.
But when people who profess The Prince of Peace submit to fear, they sound more like devoted disciples of Dirty Harry.
Liberty University’s motto is “Training Champions for Christ.” You might think that means teaching students to be champions of namby-pamby stuff like loving your neighbor or forgiveness or that ultimate pantywaist pursuit, praying for your enemies. (That Jesus, he is such a wimp.)
No, Liberty University is apparently training champions for the next crusade. If these were Muslim students being encouraged to arm themselves and get ready to kill Christians, folks would say they were being “radicalized.” President Falwell even said in his speech there were classes right there at Liberty University for students who wanted to learn how to blow away “those Muslims.”
In fairness, that’s not exactly what he said. Let’s quote President Moral Majority, Jr. exactly: “I’ve always thought if more people had concealed carry permits we could end those Muslims before they walk in and kill.” So . . . the idea is to “end” random Muslims before they do anything wrong?
Of course! They’re not people. They’re Muslims!
(More sarcasm there.)
President Falwell was silent about “ending” all the white Christian mass killers (who’ve far outgunned “those Muslims” in the US) “before they walk in and kill.”
I keep hearing folks saying mainstream Muslims don’t condemn Islamic violence and the extremists who perpetrate it. That’s not true. Just today I watched one such video, called “Nothing To Do with My Prophet, that was posted in one of my Facebook groups.
Obviously, that video inspired the title of this post. Christians should also call out violent extremists among us who pervert and twist the words of Scripture – and especially the words of Jesus – to fit their fear-driven agenda.
Those Christians whose fear drives them to vilify all Muslims and to celebrate violence do not speak for me. Their fear-mongering has nothing to do with my Savior.
It’s not so much the encouragement to get guns that bothers me about Falwell’s speech. What is most troubling besides his disparagement of “those Muslims” as a homogeneous evil group is his jaunty attitude about the possibility of violence.
Referring to San Bernardino, he said, “If some of those people in that community center had what I’ve got in my back pocket now . . .” The students interrupted him with cheers. Falwell grinned and even giggled.
Then he said, patting his butt cheek, but referring (I hope) to the gun he had hidden there, “Is it illegal for me to pull it out?” There were more cheers.
And he giggled again.
As he spoke, Some of the students stood and cheered for the beaming President Falwell. Others pumped their fists in the air and flashed thumbs-up.
He concluded, “Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here.” (And we know who “them” are, wink wink.)
President Falwell certainly taught those students a lesson. He taught them what we’ve learned from politicians and other Christian leaders – fear of, and hate for, “those Muslims” will surely get you applause.
He taught them to grin and giggle at the prospect of violence.
Those students also learned that the primary Christian response to fear is to get a gun license, to get a gun, to get trained to use it. Get “them” before they get you.
They learned to cheer for the gun. Trust the gun. The gun will keep you safe.
They learned to worship the gun.
That’s the real problem.
Let’s stipulate that having a firearm for self defense is sometimes a good idea. I don’t want to debate the gun issue here.
BUT even if that is true, using a firearm is not something to anticipate with revelry.The video of Falwell’s speech conveys the atmosphere of a pep rally before the big game, as if he was getting everybody fired up for the big contest to come.
But at a university that claims to be Christian, the potential of lost lives – even the lives of “those” people – should be lamented, not celebrated.
The possibility of self-defense by harming another – even one of “them” – should be acknowledged not with a standing ovation, but with a community falling to its knees in prayer.
In this sin-screwed-up world, sometimes the only way to prevent violence may be with violence.
But that is cause for tears, not giggles.