Philadelphia, PA –-(Ammoland.com)- This is an article I first wrote a few years ago, when CeaseFire NJ effectively disappeared from the Gun Control Movement in NJ and its Jim Jones like leader Bryan Miller started a new group.
I thought it timely to publish it to a much wider audience now, given the proclivity of certain religious groups to inject themselves into the ongoing debate over firearms.
While the article is clearly focused on Miller and his group, it certainly equally applies to other religious groups and their leaders on the Anti Gun side
Heeding God’s Call? Or Hubris in God’s name?
With CeaseFire NJ effectively reduced to a mail drop, an AOL account and a one man band that gets far more attention from his enablers in the media and his sycophants in the Statehouse then he deserves, Bryan Miller, in his insatiable desire for mass disarmament has moved on to front a new iteration of mandated victim hood, masquerading as a benign and wholesome calling named “Heeding God’s Call”.
As its title so succinctly describes, this new cabal of hoplophobes, including various clergy, cynically cloaks itself with the appearance of doing “God’s work “ whose only desire is to “save “ the citizenry from the “evils” of firearms, as if the firearms themselves can be exorcised.
As is always the case, they notably refuse to address the undeniable fact that evil resides in a person’s heart, not an inanimate object.
Accordingly, I became curious about how exactly the various major religions and religious leaders of the World viewed the morality of self defense, where killing one’s attacker was the only way to save one’s life or the life of another. What follows is what I discovered. I feel a short disclaimer is in order before I continue.
I was raised Roman Catholic, and do believe in a “higher power“ of some type. I have personally witnessed things with my own eyes that simply defy reasonable scientific explanation and in my view can only properly be described as miraculous. That being said, I am not a practicing Catholic, primarily due to my personal revulsion at the Catholic Church’s 20 plus year game of “hide –a –molester“ Its difficult to respect a group or organization that knowingly and actively participated in hiding members that have victimized the most innocent in Society, children, in the most heinous and damaging of ways. I’m also going to only briefly touch on Islam. I have read the Koran to satisfy my own curiosity and I know people that practice the Muslim faith that aren’t violent and abhor terrorism. But its my personal opinion that the issue of whether Islam is truly a religion of peace or calls for the slaughter of all non believers is to murky to delve into in the course of this article.
So, lets see what the various world religions and religious leaders think about the morality of self-defense, including when the attacker is killed.
I’m not going to address the individual religions or religious leaders in any particular order, so Ill just wade right in.
St Thomas Aquinas, most commonly associated by the lay person with Dante’s “The Divine Comedy“, Thomas Aquinas is considered by most Catholics and the Catholic Church as a body to be Catholicism’s most highly regarded philosopher and theologian. In his Ecclesiastical Dictionary, Thomas Aquinas delved into the matter of reconciling the Christian Faith with the morality of killing another person in self-defense.
““Without doubt one is allowed to resist against the unjust aggressor to one’s life, one’s goods or one’s physical integrity; sometimes, even ’til the aggressor’s death… In fact, this act is aimed at preserving one’s life or one’s goods and to make the aggressor powerless. Thus, it is a good act, which is the right of the victim.” [There are three conditions under which legitimate self-defense must lie:] “That he who is the target of the force is an aggressor and an unjust aggressor… That the object of the defense is an important good, such as the life, physical integrity or worthy goods… [and] That defensive violence is proportionate to aggression.” [Under these conditions,] “One is also allowed [not required] to kill other people’s unjust aggressor.”
Thomas Aquinas, Dizionario ecclesiastico (”Ecclesiastic dictionary”, UTET, 1959)
2263 The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor…. the one is intended, the other is not.”65
2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:
If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful…. Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.
2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life. Preserving the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm. To this end, those holding legitimate authority have the right to repel by armed force aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their charge. — Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2262-2265
I am sure Anti Self Defense and Anti Gun zealots like Bryan Miller will pounce on passage 2265, claiming that it speaks to the right of Govt , which includes the Law Enforcement Community to have sole claim to the right of use of lethal force. All to predictably , they will cherry pick specific words and or phrases such as “ legitimate authority“ and “civil community entrusted to their charge“ .
There are glaring flaws in their efforts however.
I would argue that husband and wife , sibling and particularly parents protecting their children certainly have “legitimate authority“ to protect those “entrusted to their charge“ Secondly and perhaps more importantly from a legal perspective , multiple Courts , up to and including the Supreme Court have ruled multiple times that the Govt/Police has NO duty or legal obligation to provide protection to individual citizens and in fact cannot be held criminally or civilly responsible if they fail to act to intercede on the behalf of a victim.
Accordingly as a matter of morality and law , each individual person is ultimately responsible for their own safety and protection from criminal predators.
As we can see from the noted passages, Thomas Aquinas strongly believed that self-defense, even in the case where the attacker was killed was morally justifiable and did not necessarily place a Christians soul in jeopardy or in conflict with the tenants of their faith.
Its also worth noting that Aquinas placed particular emphasis that the level of force used in self defense must be proportionate to that used by the attacker in order not to enter into a morally hazardous area. This concept is the foundation for nearly every lethal force self defense law in the Country.
Continuing on the Christianity theme we find this public quote from Pope John Paul II, one of the most revered and respected Pope’s of the last Century, instrumental in helping to free the Country of Poland from the shackles of totalitarian rule under Communism, and widely rumored to be a candidate for Sainthood
“Unfortunately, it happens that the need to render the aggressor incapable of causing harm sometimes involves taking his life. In this case, the fatal outcome is attributable to the aggressor whose actions brought it about, even though he may not be morally responsible because of a lack of the use of reason.”
Keep in mind that Pope John Paul did not discard this viewpoint, even after an assassination attempt by a deranged individual in which the Pope was shot. Thus he truly “practiced what he preached“ forgiving the gunman for his actions, while recognizing they were the actions of a person, with malice in his being, as opposed to blaming the object his attacker used to inflict a potentially fatal wound.
What about Judaism? The firearms rights group Jews For the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JFPO) can expand on my commentary here to a significantly greater degree and depth of reference then I can. However, I was able to find examples of the Jewish Faiths views on the morality of Self Defense.
Jewish law, the ancient legal system derived from the Torah (the biblical books of Genesis through Deuteronomy), codified by the Mishneh, and further clarified and refined in the Talmud and the works of its latter day commentators, is quite adamant regarding the preservation of innocent life even at the expense of killing another individual whose intentions are murderous.
The biblical source for the obligation to defend oneself against an unprovoked attack is Exodus 22:1. Other English bible versions, the King James Version for example, number this verse as 22:2. There the bible states, “If a thief is found breaking in, and is killed, no liability (guilt) is incurred.”
The bible does not instruct how the intruder is to be killed, only that the homeowner may kill him.
The Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 72A states, “Since the burglar is going to kill you, rise up (overcome your meekness and reluctance to be violent) and kill him first.”
Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, often referred to as the RAMBAM-1135-1204 CE), in Hilchos G’neiva (Laws Pertaining to Theft), Chapter 9, explains further.
Sub-chapter 7: “A burglar, whether by day or night, has neither blood nor soul with regard to anyone killing him. It does not fall solely to the homeowner to kill him. Anyone may do so. The burglar may be killed on an ordinary weekday or on the Sabbath (during which time even the killing of an insect is prohibited). Any means available may be used to kill the burglar, since by his exercise of free choice his life has lost all value.”
Sub-chapter 8: “It is irrelevant if the burglar actually breaks through a door and actually enters the home or is found in the homeowner’s garden, courtyard or fenced area (where property is stored). It is equally irrelevant if the break-in occurs during the day or night. Why, then, does the Torah use the language “break in”? In most cases burglaries are break-ins under cover of darkness.”
Sub-chapter 9: “What is the reason that the Torah permits the burglar to be slain, since his intent is only the theft of property and not murder per se (nowhere else in the Torah do we find the crime of property theft to be punishable by death)? There is a valid assumption that the homeowner will attempt to prevent the theft, leaving the burglar no option but to kill him. This places the burglar in the category of ‘a pursuer with the intent to murder’ and must therefore be killed, whether the burglar is an adult, youth, male, or female.”
It’s absurdly clear the Torah affirms the sanctity of one’s home, personal property, and life against the aggression of an intruder or attacker
The Torah also obligates one to act, not stand idly by, if another person’s life is endangered. Leviticus 19:16 states “Do not circulate gossip or stand by idly when your brother’s life is endangered.”
The Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 73A says it explicitly: “Where is it taught that it is obligatory to save someone who is being pursued by another with the intent to murder? The Torah teaches, “Do not stand by idly when your brother’s life is endangered.”
Maimonides, in Laws Pertaining to Murderers and the Preservation of Life, Chapter 1, sub-chapter 10, explains Deuteronomy 22:26 further:
“But if someone is nearby to save the woman from being violated, that person must stop the rapist even if it involves killing him if no lesser force will suffice.”
In no instance does the Torah condone ‘vigilante law’. Once a murder has been committed, and there are witnesses to the act, they may not take it upon themselves to kill the murderer. There must be a trial, as is required by Common Law jurisprudence. However, if someone is pursuing another with violent intent and is ordered to desist by witnesses yet the pursuer ignores the warning, anyone must stop him by any means possible, including lethal force. If lesser force is sufficient, though it involves grievous and permanent injury to the pursuer, taking his life is not justified. (Maimonides, Laws Pertaining to Murderers and the Preservation of Life, Chapter 1, sub-chapter 7.) Common Law generally applies this principle when determining whether lethal force was justified in acts of self defense or the prevention of violence to a third party, either for law enforcement officers or private persons.
Anti-gun municipalities and ranking law enforcement officials stress preventive measures and non-lethal alternatives for citizens to ensure their personal safety: Walking in groups at night, loud whistles, martial arts training, pepper sprays, home security systems, barking dogs, taser guns that electrically stun an attacker at a short distance (not approved for private citizens in all states), etc. From the perspective of Jewish law, all these things are useful to a point but ultimately fail when the attacker is not deterred or repelled through their application.
The taking of a human life, while repugnant to all civilized people, is often not only justified but obligatory within the framework of biblical law. The firearm is the most efficient of modern tools to preserve life. A firearm is a deterrent to violent crime.
Credit for the above passages on Judaism’s views on morality and self-defense properly belongs to Rabbi R. Mermelstein
Next lets look at the views of Buddhism, universally recognized as one of if not the most peaceful and reverent of the worlds religions, actively promoting pacifism and discouraging even the stepping on a blade of grass or killing an insect and its widely respected leader the Dalai Lama.
“If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”
Next in the list of unimpeachable world religious leaders is Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi is World Famous for his endorsement and use of non-violent protest, in the face of terribly abusive atrocities, in order to bring about change; he was a notable inspiration for Civil Rights Icon Martin Luther King Jr. Yet, when asked his views on the conduct of England when they ruled India, Gandhi stated
“Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest,”
That’s a pretty damning statement to make considering the to numerous to count list of despotic and totalitarian acts perpetrated on the Indian people by the British Crown.
So far we looked at Christianity/Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hindu. Adherents to these religions make up a significant portion of the World Population, cutting across culture, socio economic background, educational level and Countries of every imaginable shape, size,history,and form of Govt from Republican Democracy, to Royalty and everything in between. And in spite of all these various differences, one constant is crystal clear.
People the world over have a natural human right, endowed by whatever higher power they worship, to defend themselves from attack, employing lethal force if the situation requires.
At the outset of this piece, I mentioned I was only going to briefly touch on Islam, not only because of my own views having read the Koran, but also because of the incredibly contentious nature of the ongoing schism about whether or not Islam truly is a religion of peace. While I find many passages in the Koran to be extremely troubling as it relates to harming others that aren’t true believers, The Koran also mentions more then once the obligation of a Muslim to offer protection to strangers, even an “infidel”
I’ll leave it to the readers to draw their own conclusions with regards to the Muslim faith.
Anti gun and Anti Self Defense advocates often confuse the justified use of lethal force in self defense with vigilantism, either due to ignorance of the vast differences between the two acts, both legally and morally, or they do so via willful deception, as having to acknowledge a natural human right to self defense with lethal force leaves these ideologues with no leg to stand on.
A vigilante is defined as “a person who violates the law in order to exact what they believe to be justice from criminals, because they think that the criminal will not be caught or will not be sufficiently punished by the legal system.” In other words, vigilantism is when a person believes that a crime has already occurred, and goes after the criminal in order to punish them. Vigilante “justice” is wrong, and a far cry from actual justice. It deprives the accused of their right to a fair trial, and often results in the innocent being punished. It also tends to result in extremely inhumane and grossly disproportionate punishments being inflicted. Although I could write pages and pages about the historical (and current day) atrocities that have been committed by angry mobs of vigilantes, the point should be clear: the administration of justice is best left to a detached and impartial court system, headed by experienced judges, rather than angry members of the community.
Self Defense (and defense of others):
Self defense, on the other hand, is defined as “the right for civilians acting on their own behalf to engage in violence for the sake of defending one’s own life or the lives of others, including the use of deadly force.” In other words, self-defense is the use of force to stop a criminal, who is currently committing a violent crime, in order to protect oneself or another against that immediate violence – rather than to punish the criminal. Self-defense is a good thing. It allows a person who is going about their peaceful business to avoid being injured or killed by a violent criminal.
By now there should be no mistaking the fact that the various major religions (and their leaders) of the World agree on one thing with near universal concordance. The use of lethal force in Self Defense is not only a natural human right, but is also morally justified within certain narrow situational and legal constraints. Sadly, people like Bryan Miller, his acolytes and the other various anti self defense groups are much more interested in pushing a morally, intellectually and ethically bankrupt agenda that forces innocent people to be defenseless in the face of an attacker, apparently they see no moral hazard in enabling the victimization of innocent people in furtherance of a twisted social experiment whose only real purpose serves their own edification.
It’s said that Islamic Terrorists “twist and pervert“ the true teachings of the Muslim Faith, in order to further their own social agenda. It seems to me the exact same description applies to Bryan Miller and his group “Heeding God’s Call”.
Given what I’ve presented in this analysis begs the question. Exactly which “God“ is Bryan Miller and his clerical hangers on Heeding?
I have no personal knowledge of Mr. Miller’s religious proclivities, if any. If he does worship a higher power, then he reveals his arrogance in presuming to speak for God with this new group. If he is an atheist, then he is arrogantly and maliciously using the name of God as an “endorsement “ of his mindset, in order to present the false appearance of compassionate work.
All major religions preach that the clergy, cleric, Imam, etc have a primary responsibility to do their earthly best to protect their flock. The assorted clergy who have blindly aligned themselves with Mr. Miller do their followers a grave disservice, unworthy of their stature in their communities, and clearly out of touch with the teachings of their various faiths, by allowing themselves to be used to lend the appearance of legitimacy to an illegitimate cause, one that intentionally use’s deception, misrepresentations and out right lies to further its agenda. An agenda that demands that people be deprived of their natural right to protect and defend themselves and their families from predatory criminals with a firearm.
Heeding God’s Call is an egregious example of the depths of depravity and manipulation Anti Gun ideologues like Bryan Miller will sink to in furtherance of forcing their personal beliefs on everyone else for their own glory. It is reprehensible, and needs to stop once and for all.
If Mr. Miller does believe in a higher power, he has much to confess for and if he’s smart he’s asking for forgiveness every night for his numerous transgressions against his fellow human beings and his faith.
About Dan Roberts
Dan Roberts is a grassroots supporter of gun rights that has chosen AmmoLand Shooting Sports News as the perfect outlet for his frank, ‘Jersey Attitude’ filled articles on Guns and Gun Owner Rights.As a resident of the oppressive state of New Jersey he is well placed to be able to discuss the abuses of government against our inalienable rights to keep and bear arms as he writes from deep behind NJ’s Anti-Gun iron curtain. Read more from Dan Roberts or email him at DRoberts@ammoland.com You can also find him on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dan.roberts.18