You must not hand over any of your children to have them sacrificed to Molech. (Leviticus 18:21)
It was not my intention to ruminate on politics in America in my blog posts this Lent. I am committed to “Wandering in Wonder,” but sometimes my wonder becomes overshadowed by the pain and sadness in the world. After yet another school shooting, I don’t feel I can ignore the intersection of faith and social justice in our political system.
Over the last year, I took time to listen to the variety of voices in our highly-fragmented political climate. I regularly attended my local Georgia legislative district representative’s open forums. He seems like a good person who wants to listen to all of his constituents. People from a variety of political backgrounds came to the meetings and aired their thoughts and concerns. It gave me hope for our society.
We were meeting, ironically, in a local high school, gathered in a home economics classroom. We were discussing the “campus carry” bill that was pushing its way through the Georgia House and Senate again, after it had been vetoed by Governor Deal the previous year. One woman, a college professor, expressed grave concerns. An older couple who had attended every meeting sat directly on my right, fuming as she spoke. When she was done, the man lashed out, declaring it was his “God-given right to carry a gun.” I turned to look at him, dumbfounded. Since when did God give us the right to endanger the life, or worse take the life, of another human being? I don’t remember reading much about that right in the Bible. Maybe this man worships a different god? Maybe his religion is one that I’ve not come across before? Maybe it is one where child sacrifice is regularly practiced? Because that is where we are now. 18 school shootings in the first 45 days of this year, including both homicidal and suicidal acts.
And as Christians, our faith has something very specific to say about this. Heidi B. Neumark expresses this perfectly in her book Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx and so I will not try to improve on her words…
The biblical prophets unequivocally denounced the god Molech to whom human sacrifice was made, especially children. Molech was also associated with uncontrolled greed and economic gain. Isaiah condemns those who bring offerings to Molech: You journeyed to Molech with oil and multiplied your perfurmes (Isaiah 57:9). Evidently an investment in Molech was good for one’s net worth, but Molech’s thirst was not satisfied with oil. Molech exacted a higher price: You that slaughter children in the valleys and under the clefts of the rocks…you have poured out a drink offering…your children’s blood. (Isaiah 57:5-6).
Republican candidates who are now our representatives take millions of dollars in support from the gun lobby, either directly or indirectly. And yes, some Democrats do, too. Of the 289 Senators and Representatives who have taken net positive financial support, 17 of those are Democrats. So neither party is completely innocent here, but I focus on the Republicans because they are far and away the largest beneficiaries of the expenditures. (If my math is correct, the top 10 Republicans have netted over $54 million during their political careers from the NRA or those connected with it; all 17 Democrats combined total just over $260,000. If you want some details you can look at this link…Following the Money with opensecrets.org).
For Republicans to claim that they are the ones who represent “Christian Values” is ludicrous in the face of this blatant disregard for human life, and especially the lives of our children. And the spin on social media has already begun. In a reckless attempt to turn the focus from the heinous act of violence and from the causes of the tragedy (and I do believe more than one exists, but that is a conversation for another day), a source called “I Carry” suggested we should focus on the stories of heroism and ignore the “coward” who attacked the students and the faculty. We have had enough deflecting. The best way to honor those heroes is with a true commitment to change in our fundamental policies.
The founders of the United States valued human life. This is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness… The framers of the Constitution valued human life. When they wrote in the preamble that the purpose of the Constitution was to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity, it seems clear that recklessly endangering the lives of children and their caretakers would have been assumed to be unjust, a vulnerability that would undermine the common defense of the citizens; fear of violence in our schools would surely disrupt domestic tranquility, hinder general welfare, and significantly limit liberty. And even the 2nd Amendment protection of a “well-regulated” militia, signifies that regulation was certainly not out of the question. So, even if you are more enamored with our founding documents than you are the Christian scriptures, you are entitled to expect more from our government. We must stop hiding behind a warped interpretation of the Constitution and use it to enact legislation that is true to its very spirit and nature.
As Christians, we have an imperative to act. As Americans, we have an imperative to act. And while Lent is a time of reflection, it can also be a time to use that reflection to spark action in the world, a time we organize our voices, repent our past, and look to God to be our partner in doing something new.
Today, I pray for those directly affected by the violence in Florida. I also pray that God will light in us a flame of righteous anger and indignation. It is time to put an end to sacrifices to Molech.