It’s one thing for Donald Trump to suggest houses of worship should have armed security guards outside (since that’s what religious freedom apparently looks like to him), but who knew the Bible said the same thing?
That’s the argument made by several religious leaders who spoke with CNN’s John Blake:
“If we’re the shepherds, the first job of the shepherd is to protect the flock from the wolf,” says [Rabbi Hillel] Norry, a visiting rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Gulfport, Mississippi. “Why does a shepherd carry a stick? So he can whack the wolf.”
Bronze Age shepherds didn’t use automatic weapons… but I digress.
Using Rabbi Norry as an example, Blake points out what many see as hypocrisy: the people inside the sanctuary won’t carry their own guns, but they have no problem with armed guards protecting them outside. More to the point, religious leaders like Norry use the following Bible verses in justifying their decision.
As opposition to him mounted, Jesus told his disciples in Luke: 22:36-38, “If you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.”
David, one of the heroes of the Old Testament, says in Psalms 144:1, “Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.”
Nehemiah 4:14 says, “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
And Genesis 14:14 is one of Norry’s favorites. It tells a story of Abraham, considered the father of the Jewish faith:
“When Abraham heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan.“
In other words, violence committed for the sake of protecting one’s community is considered holy. No “Thou shalt not kill.” No praying for protection. Just break out the semi-automatic weapons.
It makes sense that Norry, a rabbi, wouldn’t look to the New Testament to justify non-violence, but the Christians who share his views seem to miss (or choose to ignore) another key verse, from Matthew 5:38-40:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.
It’s a verse that has convicted many over the centuries. But, as we all know, it’s pretty easy to make the Bible say and justify whatever you want.