Say you’re a good ol’ boy, a real hillbilly hunter. All you want to do is spend your weekends out in the woods, hiding behind a shelter with a
six-pack case keg of beer while they wait for wild deer to come eat the free food you leave out for them … so you can shoot them. All of this sounds like a great life, but you were raised in a good old fashioned Baptist family, and you feel like drinking on a Sunday betrays the covenant between you and God that your parents spent so darn long building up (before they got divorced, of course). Well, worry no more! Now there’s a group you can join that will shepherd your outdoor adventures into the greater spirit of the lord!
(CHRISTIAN OUTDOORSMAN: For all your camo bible needs.)
Meet CHRISTIAN OUTDOORSMAN, a web site dedicated to discussion, fellowship and, most clearly, selling sporting goods to avid hunters and fishermen who also happen to be avid bible thumpers. The convergence of faith and firearms is unique, though the two make more common bedfellows than one might initially imagine. After all, churches and hunting are both big in rural America.
Looking for a RealTree covered bible? CHRISTIAN OUTDOORSMAN’s got it. How about an orange camo winter hunting hat, with a cross delicately emblazoned amidst the leaf pattern? Yup, got one of those, too. How about a waterproof bible cover for your boat? Obviously they’ve got one of those.
All of this may seem a bit over the top, which is perfectly understandable. It is over the top. But this is the age of Rick Warren. Saying that you support a Christian position isn’t enough to qualify as an Evangelical Christian anymore. You need crosses galore and, if at all possible, to throw out an inflammatory quote. Just channel ‘America Pastor’ himself (removing a feeding tube from a person in a persistent vegetative state is a “Nazi atrocity”? Really Rick Warren?).
CHRISTIAN OUTDOORSMAN really does do everything possible to fill the gap between the world of backwoods hunters and religiosity. Discussions boards abound, they link interested parties up with religious speakers and offer free email (not quite google, but hey, you gotta start somewhere). Just reading the mission statement from the organization’s founder, David Lingner, makes it clear that he sees his web site as a one stop lure, rod, bullet and Jesus shop.
“We motivate and equip men to use the outdoors for fellowship, discipleship, personal spiritual growth, and evangelism. It is not unlike missionaries who go to another country to evangelize. Before they go, they learn the language… they learn the culture… they learn the practices and beliefs of the people in order to communicate the Truth of the Gospel in a way that the people can understand and relate to. That’s what we do… we equip men to communicate the Gospel to the outdoors culture… to use spiritual parallels found in God’s creation and outdoor sports activities.”
That’s a pretty good line, and it might convince everyone that CHRISTIAN OUTDOORSMAN has no downsides, if it weren’t for historical issues with Christians and weapons. Something about the Crusades? And the Moors in Spain? Oh yeah, and more recently that David Koresh guy (yes, we know, he wasn’t truly Christian, but it was a Christian sect and the guy was flaunting bibles).
Add to that video games like “Left Behind: Eternal Forces”, where players kill anyone who doesn’t conform with their doctrine, and you’re left with legitimate concerns. Should we celebrate organizations that brings groups of gun-toting Christians together? For that matter, should we celebrate any organizations that want easier access to firearms and aim to justify killing living beings in the name of the Lord?
Seriously, we’re asking, because we can’t really think of one.