Kentucky Republican Representative Thomas Massie tweeted out this photo of his family all holding weapons and wearing beaming smiles, with the caption: “Merry Christmas! ps. Santa, please bring ammo”

Putting aside what the Conservative reaction would be to any Democrat lawmaker’s Christmas tweet that mentioned Santa and not Jesus. The pearl-clutching “War On Christmas” cries would still be echoing through the canyons of GOP social media and partisan television.

We should also table imagining the Republican Christian response, if a Muslim family shared a photo of themselves wielding an arsenal on one of their high holy days. The allegations of terrorist indoctrination of children would be fierce and unrelenting.

And we should not try to figure out how to connect the dots between people who incessantly remind you that they are “pro-life,” and joyfully waving a massive cache of high-powered weapons designed only for tearing through the flesh of the living. Those are matters for another day.

Instead, I want to ask how any supposedly Christian family becomes so morally inverted, that they imagine a good idea to celebrate the birth of a Prince of Peace Jesus, is to pose with instruments of rapid carnage. Further, I’d like to ask how any adult with any self-awareness or working empathy, would share a photo like this on social media just days after a mass shooting at a high school that killed four people? Inside what kind of head is this a decent thing to do?

Honestly, I think there is only one answer to these questions: Millions of Americans now love guns more than people.

This happens when a political party has become so beholden to the NRA and to those who profit off the sale of weapons, its leaders use religious holidays to give them a bizarre social media shout-out.

It happens when a toxic religion of fear has been so ingrained in the minds of the faithful, they can no longer recognize the disconnect between middle finger-flying, gun-wielding bravado—and the compassionate healer Christ they claim to be devoted to.

It happens when human beings become so desensitized to mass murders in schools, shopping malls, and churches, that they can no longer find the capacity or reason to grieve them, especially when that grief is adversarial to their politics.

Most of all, this unfathomable disconnect between Christians and violence, occurs when Americans begin to treasure guns more than those murdered with them. Honestly, I am so sick of being surrounded by these people. I do not think I am alone.

I think millions of people of faith, morality, and conscience, simply cannot comprehend how the cause of guns became to so many of our families, friends, and neighbors—the solitary hill they will gladly die on.

We cannot fathom how this became their greatest passion: not the poor or the hungry, not inequity or injustice, not pollution or climate change, not education or healthcare or anything remotely redemptive.

We don’t know why they feel compelled to plaster guns on their bumpers and their chests and profiles, in “Come and Take them” taunts and threats that project some antagonistic bullying provocation that looks nothing like Jesus.

Yet, the saddest part, is that these people would not be able to answer at this point, anyway. Once you are trapped inside an addiction you aren’t able to see it clearly, and Conservative Americans are in the throes of a dependency on guns that has fully addled them. Until they can be shaken out of the intoxicating high they get when they brandish military-grade weaponry, we are going to see more and more of this sickening, infuriating gun advocacy and less and less concern for lives taken with guns.

Until these people are able to actually dig deep enough to ask why they care so much about having their arms around a barrel and fingers on a trigger, they’re going to be ignoring mass shootings and defending vigilantes and opposing gun control legislation and posturing for unconscionable holiday photos.

And the rest of us who love people more than guns are going to have to endure living alongside them, and to keep fighting for all our lives.

John Pavlovitz

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The original version of this Op Ed was published on

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