Republican Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey of Tennessee advised his "fellow Christians" on Oct. 2 to arm themselves in light of the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, on Oct. 1 that took nine lives.
Ramsey linked to a story from the New York Post of second-hand accounts that Christians were targeted by the shooter, Chris Harper Mercer.
One student, who was in a classroom where Mercer killed some of his victims, said Mercer asked people about their religion and then shot them.
Ramsey wrote on his Facebook page, "The recent spike in mass shootings across the nation is truly troubling. Whether the perpetrators are motivated by aggressive secularism, jihadist extremism or racial supremacy, their targets remain the same: Christians and defenders of the West."
However, there have been cases of Christian terrorists and Christian terrorism in the U.S., noted AlterNet.org, the Southern Poverty Law Center and The Daily Beast.
Ramsey also wrote: "While this is not the time for widespread panic, it is a time to prepare. I would encourage my fellow Christians who are serious about their faith to think about getting a handgun carry permit. I have always believed that it is better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it."
Ramsay didn't cite any Bible verses, but concluded, "Our enemies are armed. We must do likewise."
Democratic State Rep. John Ray Clemmons said in a statement that Ramsey's words "reek of fear mongering and religious crusading," reports ABC News:
There is an eerie absence of logic in his statement that ties one's Christian faith to firearms ownership that is offensive to all religions. Senator Ramsey is essentially saying that we should all run out and get a handgun carry permit to prove how serious we are about our Christian faith.
According to The Tennessean, Clemmons also said:
Senator Ramsey’s inciting statements in the face of a national tragedy are all the more alarming when you consider them in their historical context.
Things have never ended well when any leader has asked people to take up arms in the name of their religious faith. This type of rhetoric is counter-productive to our efforts on so many levels.