People of Faith Can Help Cure Spiritual Sickness of Gun Violence

It is expected that President Obama will soon announce a series of new executive orders to help curb gun violence. People of faith should be at his side. The NRA - once a respected hunting organization that now sides with terrorists - is already planning, with the help of the GOP Congress, to undermine the president's efforts.

We need common sense laws in America that keep our people safe. No one in a classroom, mall, house of worship or their home should have to fear outbreaks of gun violence. Now mass shootings have become the norm. This is not the world that God intended for us.

Too many, tragically, who call themselves Christians have placed aside their faith in God and lifted up the gun as a new false idol.

Few crimes are more harshly forbidden in the Old Testament than sacrifice to the god Moloch (for which see Leviticus 18.21, 20.1-5). The sacrifice referred to was of living children consumed in the fires of offering to Moloch. Ever since then, worship of Moloch has been the sign of a deeply degraded culture.

The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily--sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children's lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector. Sometimes this is done by mass killings, sometimes by private offerings to the god.

Upset at my support for sensible measures to prevent gun violence, a husband and wife tweeted me their anger a few days ago. They both claim to be Christians, God-fearing, gun-toting, patriotic Americans. In truth, they are religious extremists who worship Moloch. They have abandoned God and are not even aware. These are the new disciples of the NRA.

The NRA speaks for Moloch as Jesus speaks for God. What the NRA desires is a nation filled with even more guns to keep gun and bullet manufacturers well fed at that other false idol we too often worship: money.

The United Church of Christ has called our national obsession with guns a "spiritual sickness."

President Obama cannot end gun violence in America. Working with Vice President Biden, the president has promoted legislation -- that failed to move in Congress -- which could have made critical strides in reducing gun violence while protecting Constitutional rights. New executive action to close loopholes that keep those who are now able to obtain weapons of war from doing so will move us further in the right direction. Hillary Clinton has made reducing gun violence a centerpiece of her campaign for the presidency while the GOP candidates have made opposition to any form of gun control a centerpiece of their campaigns.

Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, noting the support for gun control by the U.S. Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops and Pope Francis, wrote this past fall:

It is no longer enough for those of us involved in civic leadership and pastoral care to comfort the bereaved and bewildered families of victims of gun violence. It is time to heed the words of Pope Francis and take meaningful and swift action to address violence in our society. We must band together to call for gun-control legislation. We must act in ways that promote the dignity and value of human life. And we must do it now.

Right now that means standing with President Obama as he works to reduce gun violence. It also means that religious leaders must stand up against the NRA and their disciples as we ask Americans to decide between God and the NRA's Moloch.