And you shall not present any of your children to pass through for Moloch. (Lev 18:21)
Moloch, of course, was the god of the Ammonites who demanded that children be passed through fire as a sacrifice to him.
We see this ritual enacted today with frightening regularity.
Whether we look at Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School, Sandy Hook, Columbine or Virginia Tech, American children are being made to pass through fire in numbers that ought to shock — but now only seem to numb. Small wonder. According to data from the US-based Gun Violence Archive, there have been 30 mass shootings in the United States since January 1, 2018. Using the definition employed by that organization (a mass shooting is one in which 4 or more people are shot or killed in the same general time and location), there were 346 such incidents in 2017.
Confronted with such a horrific assault on the senses, it is perhaps understandable that the mind retreats and takes comfort in generalities. We do not even speak of the daily toll of gun-related violence that plagues American cities to such an extent that the yearly death toll fails to excite beyond the moment. The names and faces of the individuals become less granular and they become, generically, “Victims” of “The Gun.” And our responses, after the initial shock, become similarly generic. “Thoughts and Prayers” are sent; Facebook profiles are changed to show this or that flag, sometimes superimposed on an eye marked with a single tear. We take comfort in sharing videos of an articulate or passionate comedian/blogger/student simply destroying the position of the National Rifle Association. And so it goes.
Though we should be sickened, the ailment appears to be more digestive than existential. But we must be sickened – and angry – because every parent in America who does not send a message to his or her elected representative – crying “Enough!” – is saying either they do not care about their children or they care about Moloch more.
Or perhaps they take comfort in the notion that, with so many children in the land, the hunger of the god will be satisfied before his gaze falls upon theirs? What can be said about parents who choose to play Russian roulette with the lives of children?
In 1949, US Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson wrote a dissenting opinion in Terminello v Chicago. Taking a position that recognized the necessity of sometimes limiting civil rights, Jackson said, “This Court has gone far toward accepting the doctrine that civil liberty means the removal of all restraints from these crowds and that all local attempts to maintain order are impairments of the liberty of the citizen. The choice is not between order and liberty. It is between liberty with order and anarchy without either. There is danger that, if the Court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact.”
Just so. The willingness of so many Americans to sacrifice their children on the altar of the Second Amendment is to be complicit in their murder, to condone their abuse, and to deny them the opportunity to engage in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
In 1948, The United Nations promulgated the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. In article 2, genocide was defined as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part ….”
The worship of Moloch (or the Glock or the AR-15, if you prefer) is so ruinous to the very fabric of American society that it may constitute a new challenge to International human rights law – filicide as genocide
One interpretation of the prohibition to worship Moloch focuses on a word that suggests the parent who only offers one of his children to Moloch may be punished by death, but that the same parent would not be punished if all his children were given. How can this be? One commentator explains that offering all one’s children to Moloch is such a serious act that not even capital punishment can atone for it. There is no going back.
We get to “all” one sacrifice at a time.