Background


Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey is a republican politician who has been involved in the Tennessee legislature since 1992. He was born in 1955 in Tennessee, graduated from East Tennessee University in 1978, and started his own surveying company in 1981. Ramsey is a self-proclaimed family man and has been married to his wife, Sindy, for 30 years. Ramsey was elected as Speaker of the Tennessee Senate and Lt. Governor in 2007 and has held the position since then. Ramsey has won numerous awards and been recognized for his commitment to economic growth in the state.

Ramsey also identifies as a Christian, and attends a United Methodist Church in his hometown of Blountville, Tennessee.

Ramsey Makes Generalizations


As is natural for individuals of any religious identification or affiliation, Ramsey made statements on his facebook page about the mass shooting in Oregon through the lens of his Christian faith. I encourage you to read his statement before you continue reading my response to his statements.

Ramsey's perspective is not a new one, but it is one that I fundamentally disagree with. His political position and opinion is obviously strongly shaped by his interpretation of biblical doctrine, and his interpretation of biblical doctrine is also strongly shaped by his political affiliation, and the ideology of American capitalism. Hopefully he is aware of both of these interdependent dynamics shaping his worldview. His first point, that the perpetrator(s) behind the mass murder in Oregon are specifically targeting "Christians and defenders of the West", is very interesting. His assumed motivating factors for all perpetrators in recent mass shootings/murders are equally interesting. Ramsey says that the perpetrators in all cases may have been motivated by either "aggressive secularism, jihadist extremism or racial supremacy". Aggressive secularism is by definition opposed to religious influence on ethics, specifically, but also in educational and political spaces. However, it is a mistake to associate secularism as a blanket cause for intentional deaths of those that disagree with the ethos of the secularist agenda.

I will concede that Ramsey has a legitimate concern regarding the freedom to practice one's religion openly in the educational and/or political realm without fear of reprisal, judgment, or discrimination. The US has a history of majority of its citizens associating themselves with the Christian faith, but that dynamic has been changing. If Ramsey believes that religious freedom should be protected, and religious discrimination should be disallowed, then I agree with him.

Jihadist extremism is a sensitive topic, and one in which I am not anywhere close to an expert. Religious extremism can be rooted in political and cultural influences, but generalizing it to a primary motivating factor of violence is a unnecessary stretch.

Any statement about racial supremacy made by a white male is bound to be met with criticism. It shouldn't mean that their statements are automatically rejected, but in this context they are ironically out of place.

I'm not sure what Ramsey means when he says, "defenders of the West". The West and East hemispheres have long been differentiated for legitimate reasons of culture, philosophy, religion and other factors. However, in a global society, such statements as "defenders of the West" is divisive at best, and militant at worst.

Jesus Wouldn't Carry a Gun


Ramsey doesn't stop there. He goes on to urge his "fellow Christians who are serious about their faith to think about getting a handgun permit". My first reaction after reading that statement is to ask the question: what faith? If he is talking about a hybrid capitalism-evangelical faith then his statement makes some contextual sense. However, if he is referring to a faith in the biblical figure of Jesus Christ, then his comments make no sense at all. Jesus was the embodiment of a true peacemaker, encouraging his disciples to love one another in the same way that he loved them. In the face of a tyrannical and oppressive Roman military government, Jesus taught that individuals should counter all kinds of violence through assertive, peaceful resistance rooted in love. Jesus certainly taught that justice was important, but he advocated justice for the weak, oppressed, downtrodden, outcasts, and those who cannot defend themselves. Jesus did not encourage his disciples to arm themselves with deadly weapons. In fact, he specifically warned his disciples of those who would advocate for securing and defending his kingdom by force.

In my opinion, Ramsey seems to be confusing the Jesus of the New Testament with a 21st century conceal-and-carry Jesus. As such, I wanted to point out this serious discrepancy, and encourage Ramsey and those who think like him to reconsider their stance on guns and gun-control in relation to their faith in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.