“Fear is a dark room where negatives are developed.” says Olympic high jumper Dwight Stones. Fear is a powerful motivator for gun violence. We know the numbers: 38,000 gun deaths a year in the USA. Over 60% are suicides, about 2% accidents and the rest homicides. Fear of others and fear of life and self are primal in these tragedies.

Elements of the Christian Church are complicit in stoking the fear fire. Many far right evangelicals fire-up fear of Muslims, fear of Mexicans, fear of the liberal media, fear of LGBTQ folks, fear of ISIS, fear of nuclear Iran, fear of abortions, fear of refugees, fear of Blacks, fear of….

The answers? Build a wall, stifle immigration, halt asylum seekers, separate children from their parents, criticize the press, devise ways to teach religion in private schools at the cost of financial support for public schools, tax cuts favoring the very wealthy believing their wealth will trickle down, deny LGBTQ civil rights, hinder reproductive options for women, support Israel’s unjust policies against the Palestinians, bow to the paranoia of NRA leadership and clamor for a strongman to obliterate our fear. To be concise, discover strategies of separation where kindness is the victim, arrogance the winner and power the god. Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, seems to speak for this solution brew:

“When I’m looking for a leader who’s gonna sit across the negotiating table from a nuclear Iran, or who’s gonna destroy ISIS, I couldn’t care less about a leader’s temperament or his tone or his vocabulary. Frankly, I want the meanest, toughest son of a gun I can find. And I think that’s the feeling of a lot of evangelicals.” (CHRISTIAN CENTURY, 4 July 2018, p. 25)

Is it any wonder why plastic guns are peddled via 3-D printers? Or the NRA continues to stifle most gun laws? FEAR is the motivator. FEAR IS THE DARK ROOM that blinds us to the Light. Fear is the antithesis of love. As I John says, “Perfect love casts out fear.” (4:18) Let’s see some love.

Ron Letnes