Monday, November 28, 2005

Dubiously Lutheran — Sue Moline Larson on Concealed Carry

Dennis York seems to particularly resent people who speak on behalf of religion, and speak complete nonsense.

Case in point: Sue Moline Larson director of the Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin, located in Madison.

Larson, claiming to speak on behalf of Martin Luther, insists that the founder of her denomination would not want concealed carry gun laws in Wisconsin. “Most women here don’t want it; neither would Martin Luther” she says.
Proponents of legislation to allow concealed handguns in Wisconsin are eager for my support. They insist that correctly understanding the Second Amendment — “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” — ensures my and every citizen’s right to carry a weapon, concealed or otherwise.

Biblical scholars know that context is invaluable when interpreting the times and customs of ancient writers. That is no less true for the mindset of the authors of the U.S. Constitution.
(We will leave aside for a moment the fact that the Wisconsin Constitution provides much more extensive and specific protection of the right to bear arms than the U.S. Constitution.)

The problem with context being “invaluable” is that people use this as an excuse to ignore both parts of scripture and parts of the Constitution that are inconvenient. Does the scripture condemn sex outside of marriage? Just explain that that was a bias of narrow-minded ancient people and ignore it. Does the Second Amendment protect the right to keep and bear arms? Just decide that times have changed and the amendment doesn’t count anymore.

Then Larson invokes public opinion. Dennis York isn’t impressed:
What amazes me is the fact that Reverend Sue, as the director of the Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin, would actually cite a poll of Wisconsin residents in her push against concealed carry. What religion bases their beliefs on public opinion? You think you’d ever see a press release from the Catholic Church that says “55% of Wisconsinites believe abortion is wrong, so therefore it must be?” You think the Catholic Church is going to change its stance on birth control because a high percentage of women use it? Is the divinity of Christ in question if a certain percentage of Wisconsin residents believe he ain’t coming back?

I’m no theologian, but religions exist to dictate public opinion, not reflect it.
People like Larson are good at using religious sounding rhetoric.
Martin Luther recognized that every person is both saintly and sinful, capable of the most exalted acts of goodness and the most depraved despotic acts of criminality.
This reminds us of a debate we had on Milwaukee Public TV that included a Lutheran minister (Rev. Ken Wheeler) who said that Luther would oppose the death penalty.

In reality, Luther was willing to be quite tough on lawbreakers. He is famous for writing Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants which called for the violent suppression of peasant uprisings in Germany.

But we suppose in the world of the politically correct clerics, all this can mean what you want it to. For Catholics, “social justice” can mean whatever trendy policy one favors. For Lutherans, Luther can be enlisted in one’s favorite cause. For both, scripture can mean what you want it to mean, and the Constitution can mean what you want it to mean.

Which means they really don’t mean anything at all.


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