Finding Faith: Guns have become our 'Golden Calf'

"Idolatry means the 'extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone.' That’s more than an apt description of America’s obsession with guns."

Devlyn Brooks 2021
Devlyn Brooks
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In America, we idolize guns.

Sometimes it’s just important to call tell it like it is, and there is no doubt that we’ve created an idolic cult surrounding guns and the Second Amendment in the United States.

Idolatry means the “extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone.” That’s more than an apt description of America’s obsession with guns.

The trouble is that we know what the Ten Commandments say about idolatry. Regardless of which set of Ten Commandments you're citing, idolatry is at the top of the list of “don’ts.”

Sure, Americans have made idols out of many things, including money, consumer items, success, and even body image. The list is long and ever growing. But, while many of those idols may not be healthy, just or equitable to our neighbors, they’re not remotely as deadly as that other idol: the gun.


Another school shooting has shocked us.

This time, at least 21 people were killed in a small, southwestern Texas town, 19 of the deceased being elementary children in grades two through four. That makes the 27th shooting involving an injury or death in an American school this year , an average of more than one school shooting per week. … And that’s just the school shootings!

Kyrie, eléison. … Lord, have mercy.

There is a story in the Hebrew Bible of the Israelites becoming anxious over Moses’ absence on Mount Sinai when he went to receive the Ten Commandments from God. So, they demanded that Aaron, Moses’ brother, create a physical God they could see and touch to relieve their fears. Aaron gathered up all of the Israelites’ gold from jewelry and ornaments and constructed the “Golden Calf,” which the Israelites then dubbed their new god.

“These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:4)

In America, we’ve done the same.

Except that we have exchanged gold for other production materials and divided the “Golden Calf” up into individual portions so that we can carry the new god on our body with us and store the new god in our homes for false security.

Just like in the story of the Israelites, we offer burnt offerings to the makers of the guns in which we’ve misplaced our faith, and in our misplaced trust we have turned our attention to the revelry of eating, drinking and playing.


God surely has witnessed our reenactment of the Israelites’ idolatry of the “Golden Calf.” But my fear is that this time we don’t have Moses to intervene on our behalf. We have no leader courageous enough to come down from the mountain of gun lobby political money to burn the new “Golden Calf,” grind it to powder, scatter it on the water and force us to drink it.

“Kyrie, eléison.” Lord, have mercy.

Devlyn Brooks, who works for Modulist, a Forum Communications Co.-owned company, is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. He serves as pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Wolverton, Minnesota. He can be reached at for comments and story ideas.

"Overturning federal protections that provide access to health care, the right to marry, the right to live out one’s sexual orientation, the right to define one’s own gender may make us feel better because of our interpretation of scripture. But in reality, what it does is put lives in jeopardy, impoverish the already impoverished, reduce human dignity, further marginalize the marginalized, alienate those already upset with the church’s hypocrisy and continues to splinter the body of Christ."

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