joseph smith

Jesus Didn’t Need an AR-15 but Joseph Smith Did

Articles, Essays

Stop the presses! Lauren Boebert said something dumb. As a day that ends in “Y”, Boebert has silly thoughts she feels a pressing desire to express. In this case, she was speaking to a Christian group and said that Jesus could have used an AR-15 to prevent his gubbamint from killing him. Ironically, this is basically the exact same thing Che Guevara said about Jesus’ crucifixion. He said, “I will fight with all the weapons within my reach rather than let myself be nailed to a cross or whatever.” Lauren and Che – they ought to be roommates.

Jesus with a gun is transparently silly because Peter actually attacks a soldier with a sword, cutting off the soldier’s ear. Jesus heals the soldier’s ear and tells Peter to put away his sword. He says, “Put your sword back inits place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” In the Book of Matthew, he reminds Peter that if he asked, God the Father would send “12 legions of angels” to save him from the Roman and Jewish authorities. As a Roman subject, he was likely using “legion” in its literal sense. 

In the first century AD, a Roman legion consisted of about 5,200 legionaries and, oftentimes, an equal number of auxiliaries. For ease of math, let’s call it a round 10,000 soldiers. Jesus tells Peter that he could summon 120,000 angels to fight for him. 120,000. It only took two angels to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Imagine what 120,000 could do. I bet it’s a lot more than an AR-15. 

Also, there’s the inconvenient fact – inconvenient to worshippers of assault rifles – that Jesus was nonviolent. He was nonviolent when he was arrested, nonviolent when he was beaten, and nonviolent when he was tortured to death. So, Jesus didn’t want or need a weapon, but there are some religious leaders who would have loved a 30-round magazine and a cooling kit. 

Joseph Smith

Smith was the founder of Mormonism. Originally from New York, he and his followers were chased all over America by various authorities. Wherever the Latter Day Saints went, they were resented by the people already there. They were resented for their ability to organize politically as well as their unorthodox religious views. 

Eventually, Smith became mayor of Nauvoo, Illinois due to the political power of Latter Day Saints voting as a bloc. A town paper published an issue critical of Smith for polygamy. As mayor, he ordered the printing press destroyed, and a riot ensued. He and his brother were charged with inciting a riot. While the Smith brothers were awaiting trial in Carthage, Illinois, a mob of about 200 men stormed the jail. However, Joseph Smith wasn’t going out like Jesus. He fired back at the mob with a pistol. It was 1844, though. Back then, you couldn’t create mass death all by yourself. Smith only had a pepper box pistol, a pistol with six barrels for firing six shots. Bullets didn’t exist yet, either; every barrel was loaded with gunpowder and a lead ball (like you would see in Revolutionary War and Civil War movies).  The mob overtook and killed the prophet. 

However, if Joseph Smith had been carrying an AR-15, it would’ve gone very differently. With a 100-round drum, he could have shot half the mob without even needing to reload. That’s not an endorsement of the AR-15; I’m just saying the rifle is designed to deliver mass death, and it’s grimly efficient at its job. 

I’m not sure how modern-day Latter Day Saints (sorry) feel about violent self-defense, but their founder definitely went out with that blicky.

There are several religious leaders who could have benefitted from an AR-15, usually due to their concurrent status as earthly political leaders. Jesus just wasn’t one of them. Maybe Boebert should research some of those other folks. Ohhh, like Muhammad. You reckon she’s heard of him?