How does God view the Second Amendment? | Faith Forum

Gun Rights

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

God is usually defined as the perfect and all-powerful spirit or being that is worshipped; the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being; almighty reality; etc.

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But many do not believe in the existence of God. Some question whether it is God or gods. Many others do not comprehend why God does not differentiate between devotees and nonbelievers in case of coronavirus, floods, earthquakes, cyclones and other disasters. Many wonder which football team God will favor, if both competing teams pray before the match. Seeing the existence of widespread sufferings around the world, many are of the view that maybe God has stopped worrying about us.

According to Erich Pratt of Gun Owners of America, “The Second Amendment is about liberty. It is about freedom, and it’s about securing a God-given right that every man and woman has to protect themselves and their families.”

Signing Executive Order 2023-04 “to protect South Dakotan’s Second Amendment rights from being infringed upon by financial institutions,” South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said, “This Executive Order will protect the God-given right to keep and bear arms from being infringed upon by financial institutions. South Dakota is setting the standard for the most Second-Amendment-friendly state in the nation.”

According to an opinion piece published in Baptist News Global, “That may well be a right guaranteed to citizens of the United States, but for the love of God can we stop saying that it is God who gave it to us?”

We asked our panel of distinguished faith leaders of the region the following question: How does God view Second Amendment?

Do gods care?

Matthew T. Fisher, resident priest, Reno Buddhist Center

Buddhism is a non-theistic worldview. The gods — while powerful — are not instrumental in humans seeking refuge from suffering — what we call enlightenment. As such we do not have opinions about the gods any more than we do about fishes or fowl. And likewise the opinions of the gods about one law in one insignificant country on an insignificant planet orbiting an average-looking star may be similarly insignificant. The Bill of Rights is an important part of the U.S. Constitution but it is singularly uninteresting to the gods.

These 10 rights are certainly the part of our Constitution that Americans are most aware of. The Second Amendment clearly states that security of a free state comes from being able to defend that state with a well-regulated militia. While harming others is unskillful, defending others or one’s self is appropriate and justified in dangerous circumstances.

Individual freedoms are critical

Micheal L. Peterson, northwestern Nevada media specialist, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

I believe that the Constitution of the United States is a divinely inspired document and that God paved the way for the creation of this great nation. Most of the Founding Fathers were men of faith of varying religions and deists and recognizing God, prayed often for inspiration.

I’m not certain exactly how God views the Second Amendment or the interpretation thereof; however, with the overall purpose of the Constitution being to protect the rights of the people while giving the government power to exercise law, and with the importance of free agency that is given by God to all people, I support the contention that this is an important personal freedom to be exercised individually. The more that we allow our government to infringe upon our individual freedoms, the further away we move from a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Self-defense vs. idolization of weapons

Dawn M. Blundell, lead pastor, Epworth United Methodist Church, Fallon

It is generally a bad idea to claim God supports or opposes things like this. Biblically, there is an excellent case to be made for peacemaking and the laying down of arms; but there are also examples of God leading the people to war, both to conquer and to defend. In Jesus’ time, and even among his disciples, there were those who advocated an armed overthrow of Rome (and probably the Jewish leadership, too), even while Jesus consistently preached a love of enemies and a refusal to meet violence with more violence.

The Second Amendment is about maintaining a well-regulated military, to preserve our freedom. Though we should definitely talk about how we employ our military, in general I don’t think God would oppose defending ourselves and each other. The desire for unregulated civilian weapon ownership, even in the face of epidemic gun violence, is a different matter entirely.

God doesn’t

F. Kevin Murphy, Sunday Forum Chair, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Nevada

A Christian Day of Judgment may call us to account for how we bear arms. In effect, this would be a court higher than our U.S. Supreme Court. For Unitarian Universalists, the higher court is human conscience and reason.

Neither Jesus nor Buddha nor Muhammed nor Zoroaster had anything to say about firearms, the sword used only metaphorically. Zoroaster said, “To fight the darkness, do not draw a sword but light a candle.” Many believe that they need guns for defense, reinforced by the spread of guns in their communities. Hunting has been a human pursuit from the beginning of the species, and few criticize that use of firearms. However, possessing firearms for the sole purpose of killing people, such as high-capacity military weapons, is an offense against any reasonable ethical construct. Conscience and reason dictate that distribution of such weapons be well-regulated, just as the Constitution suggests.

The right to guard life

ElizaBeth Webb Beyer, Jewish rabbi

Jewish law (halacha) holds that “the law of the land is valid, provided that it does not conflict directly with Torah laws” (called Dina De-Malkhuta Dina, found at Bava Batra 54b). The U.S. Supreme Court concluded, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. (It is) not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose” (District of Columbia vs. Heller, 2008). Thus, whether or not one may carry a weapon, whether concealed or open carry, depends upon the law of the jurisdiction where an individual lives. In a case last month, New York made an exception specifically allowing clergy and security guards to carry guns at houses of worship. Additionally, if one is in a dangerous location, one would be permitted to carry a gun illegally to guard life.

God offers “a weapon of peace”

Stephen R. Karcher, presiding priest, Saint Anthony Greek Orthodox Church

Long ago, the ancient Greek poet Homer wrote “the blade itself incites to deeds of violence.” Throughout Scripture, the explicit idea of a “God-given right to bear arms” is nowhere to be found. Later on, the Christian Emperor Justinian criminalized the sale of weapons to citizens, a law which lasted 900 years. Seems he agreed with Homer.

If God has a view on the Second Amendment, I think he would side with Homer too. Today, we live in a society where the idea of the “right to bear arms” for individuals has been enshrined in the hearts of millions, but arguably it’s an idea that’s generated “a culture of weapons that exceeds reason.” People of God are “called to a more excellent way.” The kingdom of God remains not of this world, and as we hymn, it’s the Cross alone that is “a weapon of peace and a trophy invincible.”

Do commandments override amendments?

Nancy Lee Cecil, Baha’i teacher

We can’t know directly what God thinks, but it’s probably safe to assume He cares about the truth: God knows the Second Amendment was based on a “well-regulated militia” and not on unlimited ownership of military-style assault weapons.

God gave humanity the Ten Commandments, saying, “Thou shalt not kill (murder)” — His personal line drawn in the sand. We also know what other Messengers subsequently taught us: No prophet — ever — counseled that violence was acceptable. Some established religions allow self-defense, or even suggest “an eye for an eye.” But no Messenger approves of the idea of carrying weapons for offensive warfare with the express purpose of killing multiple people!

Our latest Messenger, Baha’u’llah, wrote that it is unlawful to carry guns, yet there are exceptions: It may be necessary to be armed if believers are in dangerous environments, or in cases where people must necessarily hunt for their food and clothing.

God gives us wisdom and free will

Bryan Smith, lead pastor, Summit Christian Church, Sparks

When our nation was founded, the Second Amendment was set in place for the protection of the new nation. Weapons were/are necessary for protection.

Throughout the Bible there are wars, battles, self-defense and assaults. Weapons are used for good and evil, yet weapons are not condemned. The larger issue is our propensity toward evil and the need for protection.

There isn’t a theological defense for or against the Second Amendment. This has been relegated to a political or moral argument with strength on both sides. Yet, God gave wisdom to the Founding Fathers and free will to us. We mourn when atrocities are committed with guns and celebrate when protection is provided with guns. Why? Guns are amoral — neither good nor bad. It is the person holding the gun that determines how the weapon will be used. We in turn determine how those actions will be viewed.

God and self-defense

Kenneth G. Lucey, philosophy/religion professor emeritus, University of Nevada

Asking what God thinks about anything is to make a serious conceptual assumption. It is making the assumption that such an entity exists, which is an assumption not shared by many.

Secondly, it makes the assumption that God is a person; i.e., the sort of being that has thoughts. This is not an assumption that was shared by many of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Many of those individuals called themselves deists, rather than theists. A deist thinks of God as akin to the Laws of Nature, rather than a thoughtful person.

A third assumption is that there is a single interpretation of ”the Second Amendment,” which is questionable. The original interpretation of the Second Amendment allowed for the creation of organized militias. Only in modern times with the involvement of the NRA did the focus shift to an individual’s liberty to possess firearms and engage in self-defense.

Second Amendment is not absolute

Muhammed A. Quddus, member, Northern Nevada Muslim Community

Islam does not explicitly address this constitutional right. However, understanding the Second Amendment requires grasping the importance of context. The Constitution is a product of its time, drafted by individuals grappling with a vastly different sociopolitical landscape. It is essential to strike a balance between individual rights and collective good. Islam’s view would likely advocate for a dynamic interpretation of the Constitution that adapts to the changing needs and complexities of society.

The right to bear arms should be seen as a means of self-defense and protection, rather than a license for violence. Encouraging responsible gun ownership and comprehensive background checks can help prevent the misuse of firearms while upholding the principles of justice and peace.

From this perspective, it becomes essential to ensure that any interpretation of it does not lead to the senseless loss of lives. Striking a balance between individual rights and public safety is crucial.

God doesn’t opine

Toni King, spiritual leader, Unity Center of Reno

First and foremost, God is Principle, Absolute Good. When we attribute personal opinions to God, we anthropomorphize our Creator-Source and perpetuate a God who sits in judgement. This Old Testament image doesn’t fit with our unfolding paradigm of the embodiment of a consciousness of God in humankind that both lifts us higher on the vibrational scale of spiritual evolvement and calls us to a greater level of responsibility to see the God in everyone — and to act from that place!

When we live from an awareness of the God-within, we understand there is room for all of us and our personal views about how to be in society without needing to impose our beliefs on one another. Our government allows for the right to bear arms, but I don’t really understand how my AK-47 is “necessary to the security of a free State.” But that’s just me, you do you.

An exercise of human free will

Daniel H. Mueggenborg, bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Reno

While the scriptures do not speak directly to the Second Amendment, I think it is reasonable to say that this constitutional right is an expression of human free will for which we are accountable both as individuals and as a society.

The scriptures do affirm the divine intention that we protect every human life, pursue peaceful resolutions to conflicts, address root causes of violence and forgive rather than seek revenge. The scriptures also provide for legitimate and measured self-defense.

Catholics believe that an individual civil right is always subject to the common good. Reasonable regulatory and safety measures can both preserve the civil right while protecting the common good. The United States Bishops have been calling for such measures since their 1994 pastoral message “Confronting a Culture of Violence: A Catholic Framework for Action.” This advocacy expresses the divine intention for the responsible exercise of our human free will.

Next week’s topic: Will everyone be treated equally in heaven?

Faith Forum is a weekly dialogue on religion produced by religious statesman Rajan Zed. Send questions or comments to rajanzed@gmail.com or on Twitter at @rajanzed.

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