Christian "revival" wouldn't solve America's gun problem. It would make things worse.
Rep. Tim Burchett falsely claimed mass shootings were the result of a lack of Christianity
This newsletter is free, but it’s only able to sustain itself due to the support I receive from a small percentage of regular readers. Would you please consider becoming one of those supporters? You can use the button below to subscribe to Substack or use my usual Patreon page!
On Saturday, during an interview with CNN’s Jim Acosta, Rep. Tim Burchett, a Republican from Tennessee, blamed gun massacres in this country on a lack of Christianity. It’s a response that completely ignores reality.
Burchett made headlines back in March, after a mass shooting at a Christian school in Nashville, when he told reporters asking about a legislative response to gun violence, “We’re not gonna fix it.”
Given that Burchett voted against expanding background checks for gun sales in 2021, he’s not just deflecting from his own responsibility, he’s ignoring the fact that lawmakers like him are actively making the gun problem worse. Congress members like him have a choice to make when it comes to saving lives, and Burchett has made it clear that dead children are worth the price of keeping his seat in Congress. The Republican Party, as I’ve said before, only offers thoughts and prayers after acts of gun violence, but when they actually want to get something done, like preventing women from having abortions, they pass laws and ask courts to rule in their favor. They never just pray when they actually want to change something.
When Burchett made that comment in March, he also alluded to a need for more Jesus in the nation:
“I think you got to change people’s hearts. You know, as a Christian, as we talk about in the church, and I’ve said this many times, I think we really need a revival in this country,” he continued, as if his version of Christianity is the answer to the school shooting in his state or the 128 other mass shootings that took place before it.
Burchett appeared on CNN after a shooter in Texas massacred five innocent people who asked him to stop firing rounds in his backyard late at night so they could sleep. Acosta asked him yet again why someone who presumably entered politics would refuse to take action to prevent tragedies like these.
ACOSTA: … A lot of people listen to what you just said and said, “Wait a minute, it is your job to fix this, and it is unacceptable to have mass shooting after mass shooting after mass shooting.” Why not fix this? Get together… with the Democrats and get it done.
BURCHETT: … I was probably speaking more from a Christian perspective. I also went on and said, “We need real revival in this country.” I feel like we've turned from the Lord. And I know that, maybe, makes people's heads spin off sometimes when they hear somebody like me say that. But…
ACOSTA: Well, there is Christianity in other countries and they don't have mass shootings.
BURCHETT: Well, they don't have our freedom either. They don't have a Second Amendment…
Sounds like the solution, then, is getting rid of the Second Amendment…?
He went on to claim the problem was unstoppable because people can print guns with 3-D printers, criminals are going to commit crimes, and mental health is another problem. (His points are, again, bullshit. Republicans have no problem passing laws blocking women from having abortions, they repeatedly vote against mental health funding, and there are plenty of proven ways to get weapons off the streets and prevent them from getting into the wrong hands.)
But let’s talk about the supposed need for Christianity, as if that would fix the problem, because all of that is a lie.
England, France, and Germany (just to name a few countries) are also free. And yet the United States has had “nearly double the number of mass shootings of 24 other wealthy industrialized nations—combined—over the past 30 years.”
As far as religion goes, even with Christianity on the decline, the United States has a higher proportion of Christians than most of those other western nations, too.
We’re no less free than other countries (and arguably less free in many important respects). We’re more Christian than other countries. The difference is that conservatives love deadly weapons more than people’s lives, and they’ll do everything in their power to make sure every American has a higher chance of getting gunned down in the future.
We’ve seen gun massacres in Christian schools, churches, synagogues, and mosques. Those places are not lacking in faith and some even had armed officers. None of those things were enough to stop someone with an AR-15 and a grudge.
And as sociologist Ryan Burge pointed out last week, self-reported gun ownership numbers show us that white evangelical families specifically are also the most likely to own a gun.
We’re all in peril because the Christians with the most political power worship weapons. (Prayers are never enough to protect them, it seems.) If you dig into those numbers, Southern Baptists are most likely to personally own guns.
So Burchett isn’t just wrong. He has it completely backwards.
Our gun problem isn’t the result of a lack of revival. In fact, if we had more Christianity in this country—at least, the sort of Christianity Burchett wants to see more of—we’d likely see even more gun violence. That’s because the sort of people who vote for gun-obsessed people like him believe their right to own semi-automatic assault weapons always takes precedence over the safety of the community. As researchers have noted, “opposition to stricter gun control is closely linked to Christian nationalism.”
Honestly, is there any societal problem we face that would be fixed with an infusion of conservative Christianity? Of course there isn’t. Christians like Burchett always make situations worse, before blaming the problems they exacerbated on whichever marginalized group they hate that week.
There’s also an argument to be made that “freedom” ought to involve being able to go places without fear of being slaughtered, but Burchett and his Christian brethren have no desire to think about it.
If you appreciated this article, please subscribe to my newsletter for free or share this post on Reddit, Facebook, or the godawful Bird app.
The last thing this country suffers from is a lack of religion. Christian apologists always see their religion as the solution to almost every problem, and yet it's hard to identify a single occasion when it ever has been. The more religious a society, the more intolerant, backward looking, and stagnant it becomes. Magical thinking never solved a single real-world problem.
Sorry, this is a long one, hopefully you’ll get something out of it.
There’s a parable about a monk who comes to a river and finds a drowning man. The monk pulls him from the river only to find another drowning man. The monk saves him and stays at the river to pull these people out, saving who he can and burying who he cannot save. When his leader comes to see how the monk is doing he suggested that the monk wasn’t using his time and energy properly , though he was compassionate. He suggests to the monk that he ought to have gone upstream to find out why there were so many people being washed away by the river and address the problem at its root.
Most folks think that this means that we should be dealing with mental health issues and kids who feel left out in regards to gun violence. And then the anti-gun control folks make excuses not to address those problems either. They also ignore that we can find folks who are willing to be violent and take their guns, domestic abuse is a huge red flag that we cannot acknowledge because taking their guns away would mean our police force would be decimated.
To go back to the parable and add my take, the monks walk upriver to find a group of folks taking away the safety rails, tearing out the bridges, and encouraging passersby to jump into the river, claiming it is their unequivocal right to do so and that everything wrong in their life will be better if they do. So the monks try to stop the group from sending these people to the river. Added my safety rails and safer bridges and finding better (real) solutions to people’s problems. But the group (who are politicians) beat them up, call them names, dehumanize them, tell everyone the monks are trying to destroy their river way of life. So the people start fighting the monks. All the while many many people go into the river, with no monk down the way to pull them out and refusing any help they might come across as a conspiracy to keep them from their river way of life despite actively drowning. Nothing gets done, no one gets saved, too many folks drown, and the group of politicians get rich from the corporations no one realized was paying them to shove people into the river for financial reasons (I don’t know why a corporation or lobby group would make money off people drowning in a river, but it doesn’t make sense that the NRA enables mass shootings and suicides and children accidentally shooting their siblings and parents).
The thing is, we need to keep saving people from the river, address the safety issues on the river and provide help to folks who feel like their only option is jumping in. Stop making it easy for folks to obtain guns, restricting law abiding folks will help keep the guns out of the criminal hands - many times the ease in purchasing guns allows criminals to get them without raising the red flags needed to stop the crimes. And most of the mass shooters would not raise a red flag as they are not yet criminals, but putting obstacles in their way could avert a tragedy. And as I mentioned above, there are a lot of folks who still qualify for guns that aren’t so law abiding, but being privileged lowers the like likelihood that they trigger a red flag. Gun control is like putting safety rails on the river. Mental health care and social safety nets can address the motivations for the violence, but that solution would entail totally revamping our healthcare system and probably making it single payer, which is socialism (really just a dog whistle for folks who are racist and don’t want people of color to get their basic human needs met). That’s building the bridges. Voting the GOP and bought and paid for democrats out of office will eliminate the group from talking folks into jumping in the river. Holding the NRA accountable for their immorality will help as well.