Presbyterian Propaganda

For those of you who don’t know, I am a member of a Presbyterian (PCUSA) congregation. Though my congregation is largely traditional, the PCUSA has the well-deserved reputation for being one of the most liberal denominations in the country. Just take a look at the homepage of their Washington Office and see how they lobby congress for abortion on demand, anti-war causes, universal healthcare, and higher taxes.

I could spend days going through the PCUSA’s website, pointing out all their radical causes and condescending attitudes toward those who might not agree. However, this month’s edition of Presbyterians Today, “the award-winning general-interest [i.e. liberal interest] magazine of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),” contains two articles which are particularly priceless, and which merit a response.

First is Vernon Broyles’s column, which basically amounts to an ad homenim attack on President Bush (which is what most of his columns amount to). Broyles uses the a Bush quote from 1999, and states, “What a difference a couple of years makes. While our posture before the world is not isolationism, it is unilateralism.” Maybe Broyles missed September 11, 2001 (actually, no he didn’t; in response to the attacks he said, “…while it may seem politically helpful to call them [the terrorists] ‘barbaric’ in their acts against the ‘civilized’ world, it is appropriate to ask why the incineration of several thousand people in the attack on the World Trade Center was a ‘barbaric act of terrorism,’ while the incineration of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are seen as a ‘necessary act of war by a civilized nation.’”).

Broyles’ charge of unilaterialism no doubt comes straight from DNC Talking Points. In reality, the coalition put together to evict Saddam Hussein is one of the biggest coalitions ever assembled in world history. Broyles seems to be using the “Big Lie” theory utilized by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister: repeat a lie enough times, and people will believe it. Broyles apparently missed the commandment prohibiting bearing false witness.

The other article I’d like to address is this month’s edition of “As I See It”. James E. Atwood, the author, seems to be motivated by pure intentions, instead of the pure partisan cynicism of Broyles. Atwood, however, is very wrong. First, he bluntly states, “Frankly speaking, our country has an abominable record of balancing an individual’s right to have a gun with the public’s right to expect a safe society in which to pursue life, liberty and happiness.” Unfortunately, he completely misses the point here. According the United States Constitution, Americans have a right to posses arms. End of story (I’ve written about this). Constitutional issues aside, the public’s right to expect a safe society is damaged by the restriction to posses firearms. Law-abiding citizens would not be able to protect themselves from criminals. If someone breaks into your house, what are you going to do? Call the police? Yes, calling the police is a good idea, but they probably cannot get there in time to save your life.

Atwood then informs us, “In one 18-year period alone, 1979-1997, more United States citizens died in peacetime at the barrel of a gun than service men and women on the battlefields of all of our country’s wars since 1775.” Unbelievable. The History News Network lists the number of American deaths in every war since 1775. Here are the numbers:

American Revolution: 25,324
War of 1812: 2,260
Mexican War: 13,283
Civil War: 498,332 Union, 364,821 Confederate
Spanish American War: 2,446
World War I: 116,516
World War II: 405,399
Korean War: 54,246
Vietnam: 56,244
Panama: 23
Gulf War: 148

So from this (incomplete) list of deaths, I am going to use my calculator to calculate a total number … and that number is 1,539,042. Note that this does not include those who have died in Afghanistan, the second Gulf War, or those killed in skirmishes with the Indians, so the actual number would be higher. But for the sake of argument, let’s just use this number. Apparently, Atwood would have us believe that over 1.5 million people died from guns between 1979 and 1997. This is obviously bogus. I think it may have come from a 1999 press release from Hand Gun Control, Inc. (now The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence). This release stated that during that period, there were 651,697 gun deaths. I’m no math whiz, but I think 651,697 is considerably less than 1.5 million. Inexplicably, the press release claims that there have been 650,858 American war deaths, which is actually fewer than died in the Civil War. Atwood also neglects to mention that of those 651,697 gun deaths, more than half (334,870) were suicides. Does he really believe that restricting guns will prevent suicide?

“Unfortunately the gun lobby, with deceit on its lips and deep pockets of money contributed by its single-issue constituency, has captured the votes of nervous legislators who listen only to the boisterous hue and cry of no more than 20 percent of our population,” continues Atwood. Hmmm… I wonder if Atwood believes that groups such as The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence don’t wield considerable political power. Or that they always cite correct statistics, and have no agenda. If he does, I have some oceanfront property here in Knoxville to sell.

Atwater next claims, “Yearly polls indicate 70-80 percent of the American people, including gun owners, support bans on the sale and possession of assault weapons, mandatory background checks on all guns sold, and closing gun show loopholes.” As a Political Science major, I feel at liberty to point out a concept from Poli Sci 101: In a democratic form of government, politicians do what a majority of their constituencies want. Sure, there are certain areas (such as abortion, the death penalty, and war) where there are splits in decision, and thus politicians will likewise have different views. However, if 80% of Americans support a bill, it almost certainly will be passed (unless it’s ruled unconstitutional by a court – and even then, with the support of 80% of Americans, a Constitutional Amendment would be a definite possibility).

“Mixing a gun with martinis or a ‘few cold ones’ is a tragedy waiting to happen,” says Atwood. He’s absolutely right. But I’m going to go with the obvious here and state that mixing a “few cold ones” with an automobile is also a tragedy waiting to happen. Does he support banning automobiles?

Atwater concludes with a statement which can only be described as insane, “But many [church members] have left our fellowship because they consider the church irrelevant to their daily life. Many have left because the church lacked the courage to stand up and speak out on life and death issues such as the fact that 80 people a day are dying at the barrel of a gun. ” This is pretty strange since at the beginning of this very article he states, “General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church and other mainline denominations have for decades sought a balance by supporting hunting and sports shooting but pleading for the regulation of instruments that are designed, manufactured and sold for the purpose of killing human beings.” So the church lacks the courage to stand against guns, yet it has done so “for decades”! It should also be noted that the Presbyterian Church and other so-called Mainline Denominations have been losing members for decades as well. Perhaps we can conclude that Atwater has it exactly backwards: Church members are leaving the church BECAUSE it was trying to take away their Constitutional Liberties.

It’s really unfathomable to me that people can actually support gun control. Guns actually save lives every year, even though the media never report it, and in some cases even cover it up (during a recent shooting at Appalachian School of Law in Virginia, the shooter was stopped by other armed students – thought this fact went almost completely unreported). One of history’s most obvious lessons is to fear the government which takes away your firearms. Those living under Hitler and Stalin learned the hard way. Atwood and his ilk need to stop thinking about utopian society, and join us in reality.

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