The American altar of human sacrifice

Hiker David Nussbaum of England steps up to the high altar on the dizzy heights of Jebel Madbah Mountain at Petra, Jordan.

By a cliff-hanger vote—217 to 213—the United States House of Representatives on July 29 passed a ban on private ownership of assault weapons. The legislation would make it illegal to sell, manufacture, transfer, possess, or import assault weapons in the United States. 

God in heaven, why does any private citizen want or need such weapons designed solely for the purpose of killing as many humans as possible in the shortest amount of time? God in heaven, why was that vote in the House of Representatives so close, and why does that bill stand virtually no chance of passing in the Senate to become the law of the land?

Americans have made an idol of gun ownership, says Peter W. Marty (Christian Century, July 13, 2022). “The Second Amendment [‘right to bear arms’] altar is reminiscent of those built to Baal and Molech by people in antiquity,” Marty says. “The prophet Jeremiah fiercely denounces these gods to whom people sacrificed their children: ‘[Never] did it enter my mind that they would practice such abominations.’ (Jer. 32:35). 

“Do-nothing political leaders in our day are practicing abomination every time they bow at the altar of Second Amendment idolatry and wash their hands of responsibility for innocent victims,” Marty writes. How many more school children, persons gathered for worship, or random shoppers at a mall will die from assault weapons before American politicians get enough moral spine to take decisive action?

The altar imagery brings to mind a recent visit a few intrepid climbers and I made to an ancient “high place” of worship on the summit of Jebel Madbah Mountain at Petra in Jordan. Climbing to that summit is no easy feat, and I crawled the last steep slope on my hands and knees to avoid toppling into the adjacent abyss. The view from the top is breath-taking, the history sobering.

It is certain that ancient Nabateans (4th century BC to second century AD) sacrificed animals on this altar. It is possible that children also died on this altar, because human sacrifice still occurred in the region. That makes me shudder, and I do the same every time I see politicians and lobbying groups bow to more senseless slaughter on the Second Amendment altar. No, I don’t want the government to take away everyone’s guns. I want to see an end to assault weapons and cheap handguns whose only purpose is quick and easy murder.

Support politicians who have the courage to help bring an end to the epidemic of mass shootings in the United States.


Want to see Petra for yourself? I’m back to leading tours to biblical sites because I love the fellowship with fellow pilgrims and the chance to see the Bible in three dimensions with other God-seekers. The next tour is a “Journey of Hope: Jordan, Israel, Palestine,” September 13–24, 2023. This will take us many Old Testament and New Testament sites. You don’t have to climb to the Nabatean high place!! See:

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Anna Predoti says:

    So sad, all the killings in the US. Our Lord is weeping. I have often thought that the Second amendment is almost like the 11th Commandment to many people. When will it change?


  2. Ken Fellenbaum says:

    Nelson, I read with interest your latest article. Growing up Mennonite on a Lancaster County farm in the1950/60’s I share your concern over gun violence in the USA. We had rifles & shotguns – part of farming tools to deal with varmints & for hunting but my parents wouldn’t allow me to have a cap gun revolver because of TV Westerns- that we only saw when visiting non-Mennonite relatives. In my years of pastoral ministry & community service – I have served as a Commissioner of 2 Law enforcement agencies – 16 years with our City Police Department. That experience has given me a somewhat different perspective. I decry the gun violence in our Country – and the overall violent society we live in. While recent attempts to deal with mass shootings has focused on “assault weapons & large capacity magazines – there are many other contributing factors to overall gun deaths that our political refuse to address. For instance the violence in the movies, TV & video games. About the same time as the terrible tragedy of the Sandy Hook mass shooting there was a Sylvester Stallone movie being promoted on TV entitled “Bullet to the Head”. Hollywood put off releasing it for 14 months. BTW – deaths from guns in 2021 was 45,222 (nearly half by suicide) – up 14% from 2020. Deaths from mass shootings(4 or more) was 693. The vast majority of gun deaths were by hand guns – not assault riffles ( of which I’m no fan). Your article on Nabetean’s human sacrifice brings to mind the “human sacrifice” also part of our modern society: automobile deaths 42,915 (speed & DUI leading factors), CDC estimate of drug overdose in 2021 was an appalling 107,622 – up nearly 15% from 2020. Then we could add the number of unborn children aborted… Just some statistics & thoughts on “human sacrifice” and societal violence – that I attempt to address regularly from the pulpit (currently preaching a series of messages on the Parables of Jesus. Shalom, Ken Fellenbaum

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Many thanks for these insights, Ken. Yes, we live in a death-preoccupied society, and are careless with precious human life. God bless you in your life-affirming ministry.


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