Talking Gun Conversion with The Reverend Hunter

In October 2021, I traveled from North Carolina to Vermont to attend and present at the Outdoor Writers Association of America’s (OWAA) annual conference. After flying into Burlington, I had a 90-minute long shuttle bus ride to the Jay Peak Resort, near the Canadian border. On the ride, I listened to and participated in some friendly chatter with other conference attendees.

I would later see one particularly gregarious fellow from the shuttle a few times during the conference, including sharing some meals together. Toward the end of the conference, we realized we had something more in common than the OWAA.

It turns out that before he became The Reverend Hunter, my new colleague Tony Jones was a celebrity pastor of the “emerging church” movement in the evangelical wing of American Christianity. Before I became a gun scholar, I spent 20 years studying American religion. We had a mutual friend in one of my longtime colleagues in the sociology of religion, Gerardo Marti, co-author of The Deconstructed Church: Understanding Emerging Christianity, in which Jones figures prominently.

Screen cap of https://reverendhunter.com/
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The National Rifle Association’s Sacralization of the Second Amendment

In a recent appearance on Ballistic Radio with John Johnston, I spoke some about ways in which gun culture can be like a religion. Although I ultimately concluded that there are important differences between the two, I have noted the confluence of guns and religion previously — both in my academic work and on my Gun Culture 2.0 blog.

For example, reflecting on my first experience attending the National Rifle Association annual meeting, I came away with the conclusion that the NRA is a Christian organization. Of course, this was a somewhat impressionistic observation.

Recently, Dr. Jessica Dawson — a sociologist the United States Military Academy at West Point and a U.S. Army Major — has addressed this issue more systematically in an article entitled, “Shall not be infringed: How the NRA used religious language to transform the meaning of the Second Amendment” (the journal, Palgrave Communications, is open-access, there is no paywall to read or download it).

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