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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
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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.”
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.
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