During the 2008 election, Barack Obama took a lot of criticism for comments he made at a fundraiser while speaking about economically anxious working-class voters in the Midwest: “it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” GOP opponents in particular seized on these remarks as indication of Obama’s otherness, how out of touch with “real America” he was.
In light of our newly framed debates on gun violence after the 2012 massacres in Colorado, Wisconsin, and Connecticut, it might be time to revisit the fear and anxiety that is in fact leading people to cling to their guns, stocking up on bullets and assault rifles merely because people started TALKING about changes in gun control laws. And yes, we should also talk about a certain kind of religiousness that seems to undergird this apocalyptic worldview.
Rev. Jim Wallis, over at the Sojourners God’s Politics blog, points out the very particular kind of theology that the NRA is using and encouraging among these fearful folks:
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, said this as his response to the massacre of children at Sandy Hook elementary in Newtown, Conn.: “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”