The Cult of Christian Hunting and America’s Gun Problem

Derek Beres on December 18, 2012, 3:29 PM Thanks to Big Think

On average, Americans slaughter 10 billion animals a year for consumption. The idea that hunting is a necessary component of our food supply is simply a myth. Yet how do we convince a culture, some of whom deny that evolution exists and champion the notion that the earth is 6,000 years old, that such practices need to be abolished in the way that human sacrifices were? We can’t even commit to compassion over losing those we kill in war; as Chris Hedges wrote in War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning,

While we venerate and mourn our own dead we are curiously indifferent about those we kill.

The idea that animals would be venerated is impossible in a culture that cheers the idea of blowing up entire Middle Eastern countries.

That hunting psychology fosters a culture of firearms should not be a surprise, nor should it be shocking that lax gun regulations promote mass murders. Yes, the shooter in Newton was mentally unstable, yet he was raised in a fringe survivalist household stockpiling firearms for an imagined forthcoming social (and religious) revolution in which the righteous would finally experienced Rapture. Because of this deranged religious zealotry, innocent children and teachers were murdered.

It’s hard to take a group of Christian bowhunters asking its members to ‘please prayerfully consider how God would lead you to financially support our many programs’ seriously—again, notice the illogical leap that wraps financial stability, divinity and hunting together. But we can’t overlook their disturbing sincerity. Christian hunting is a bastardization of an outdated religious text, and does not reflect the social, psychological, ethical or even nutritional needs of modern America.

As Marvin Harris wrote in Cannibals and Kings regarding animal sacrifice,

Cases in which production systems have changed to conform to the requirements of changed religious systems regardless of cost/benefit considerations either do not exist or are extremely rare.

In a country where meat is subsidized to be sold as cheaply as possible, an ethical culture that understands value in the totality of life is unfeasible. The religious hunting mindset will continue to translate as human sacrifice, whatever the neurochemical imbalance. Hunting for sustenance is one thing, unnecessary as it is for human nourishment. Killing for sport—laughing aloud when you ‘tap’ a defenseless animal—is a twisted remnant of an antiquated psychology we’ve kept alive through repetition and bloodthirst, and has nothing to do with being religious. If anything, it keeps us trapped in the perverse cult of sacrifice as valuable (and dangerous) to us today as the fraying book it worships worthy of the dustbin of history.

Photo: Dmitry Kalinovsky/