Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammo

By David Waters Sunday’s fatal shooting at an Illinois church has revived an effort to pass a bill allowing concealed … Continued

By David Waters

Sunday’s fatal shooting at an Illinois church has revived an effort to pass a bill allowing concealed weapons in Arkansas churches, as well as a broader discussion about whether guns in houses of worship are legally or spiritually appropriate.

Does the Second Amendment conflict with the Sixth Commandment?

“It’s not about gun rights, it’s about church rights,” Nathan Petty, a pastor at Beech Grove Baptist Church in Fordyce, Ark., told the Associated Press when the bill was being considered last month. “Is it right for the state to make that decision for the church?”

On the other hand, is it right for anyone to allow guns to be brought into a house of God? “I believe it would disturb the sanctity and tranquility of church” said Pastor John Phillips told the AP. Phillips was shot twice in the back 23 years ago in his own Ward Chapel Church in Little Rock.

About 20 states permit houses of worship to decide whether to allow weapons inside. In Arkansas, concealed weapons are banned in two places — churches and bars. State Rep. Beverly Pyle says she plans to reintroduce a bill next week that would remove churches from the list. Her first bill passed the House last month, but it came up three votes short in a Senate committee.

“It is time we changed our concealed-handgun law to allow law-abiding citizens of the state of Arkansas the right to defend themselves and others should a situation happen in one of our churches,” Pyle told AP.

Most religions support the right of self-defense, but do we really think armed ushers or pistol-packin’ preachers are going to prevent crazed gunmen from ignoring the laws of God and man with their own concealed weapons?

Concealed weapons are banned everywhere in Illinois, but that didn’t stop a 27-year-old man from walking up to Rev. Fred Winters in the middle of a worship service, pulling out a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol and shooting him to death.

I understand the desire for personal security, especially in this gun-toting culture. But if legislators or preachers believe guns are the solution — even where people are gathered to worship the Prince of Peace — then why stop with concealed weapons?

Why not allow armed guards, police officers, even soldiers to patrol sanctuaries? Why rely on private citizens carrying concealed weapons to secure a congregation? Why not turn to professionals? At the very least, there are security training courses that will teach church leaders how to react to life-threatening situations.

Mark Deymaz, a pastor at Mosaic Church in Little Rock who is opposed to the legislation, told AP that church leaders have a responsibility to protect the people who spend time in their buildings. “A good shepherd would not allow a wolf near his flock,” he said.

Something tells me The Good Shepherd would prefer that we find non-violent ways to protect the flock.

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  • Paganplace

    I mean, hey. You scream all the time how terrified you are of anyone thinking differently from you. If you’re scared in your churches, did you even *ask* if your neighbors would help you?

  • CCNL

    Churchs with “gun-toting” parishioners will only lead to OK Corral shoot-outs. Metal detectors would be a much better solution!!!

  • CCNL

    Churches with “gun-toting” parishioners will only lead to OK Corral shoot-outs. Metal detectors would be a much better solution!!!

  • Jodi Westrick

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  • Jodi_Westrick

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  • Robert_B1

    In response to this foolishness which seems to stem from the impulse to not let a crisis go to waste, I’ll simply post a paraphrased question from *The West Wing*:If guns are such a great deterrent, why this focus on “concealed carry” laws? Wouldn’t you actually want potential criminals to know you’re armed?Churches (and other houses of worship) are supposed to be places of communion with the Divine. If I recall my Greek and Roman history correctly (please correct me if I’m wrong), weapons were absolutely forbidden in a temple unless they were part of an offering to the gods.

  • ivri5768

    Us nonChristians sure do find your religion of “love” confusing, what with all the killing and raping and stealing and recessions and all.

  • Maryann261

    Going to church and packing a weapon—only the far right would come with this idea. It doesn’t sound very Christian to me. If the Christian far right believe so devoutly in God, why do they need weapons? Don’t they believe God will save them? Can’t they look at any incident in a Church as the will of God?It is so ridiculous to think of people “professing” Christian virtues while carrying a gun loaded with bullets and ready to fire.

  • Maryann261

    Going to church and packing a weapon—only the far right would come with this idea. It doesn’t sound very Christian to me. If the Christian far right believe so devoutly in God, why do they need weapons? Don’t they believe God will save them? Can’t they look at any incident in a Church as the will of God?It is so ridiculous to think of people “professing” Christian virtues while carrying a gun loaded with bullets and ready to fire.

  • coloradodog

    Besides, with guns in church, they could use them to keep out Mexicans and long-haired hippies in robes and sandals who look like Jesus.

  • Chops2

    More proof that god doesnt exist, these christian lawmakers have more faith in earthly steel than gods protection in his own place of worship.

  • rj2008

    Maybe the NRA should tell us what kind of gun Jesus was packing. Did Jesus just carry it around or was it concealed? Did all his followers carry guns too? Fundamentalists claim to have all the answers, but I guess nowadays they look to the NRA and not the bible for answers. Thanks to the NRA anyone can carry a gun anywhere so being in church doesn’t protect anyone from being killed by a gun.

  • jimfilyaw

    from what little i know of the illinois shooting incident, my first reaction was, just think of it, what if a dozen or so card carrying, pistol toting n.r.a. members had been there. they could have no doubt blown the offender away in a wondrous cross fire. the loss of another couple of dozen worshipers is small price to pay for that kind of freedom, isn’t it? i have the same attitude about the rapture crowd. i hope its all true. how wonderful–the thought of ridding ourselves of 20-30 million pains in the a$$, all in one blinding second.

  • artistkvip1

    i read your words and you make some points but disregaurd others. i think you leave out the right wing radio commentators or anyone talking about disrespecting other human beings they do not actually know. i am very confused about talking hate against people they call liberals which is what this misguided man was apparently saying was his reason if i can belive fox new online.. if i read the bible corectly jesus was a liberal minded person.. that was his point that all were included and forgiventhrough his sacrifice. the idea that good christian people need to make human sacrifices has always seemed missguieded at best. if you have ever seen the movie the fisherking with jeff bridges and robin williams and mercedes reuhl you can better see the very real dynamics with some of these words indeed do have meaning for some people in the real world. we do have free speech and everyone is responsible for thier own conduct but people shouldn’t pretend others don’t fan the flames . if some of these words and comments were spoken by a black man or somebody not of the christian faith i have a feeling the homeland security people would be all over them for enciting terrorism which is what it really is. maybe the real american terrorist is a fat white man in florida man drug addict who says he has a brain on loan from God.. i could be wrong but the bible does talk about false phofits. the truth is guns do kill people very effeciently but someone who wants to do violence will use what ever tool is available including sticks and stones which we couldn’t ban all of. i think the truth is that sometimes people do tragic things and all we can do is to make the world the best place we can for everybody not just a few.. i don’t condone violence when things are soved peacefully you end up with the best answers and there is no need for anyone to retaliate but i could very well be wrong i’m just a dyslexic son of a hillbilly artist not a theologian

  • B2O2

    It’s perfectly in keeping with the Alternative Bible that American conservatives tote to church with them every Sunday (actually they keep them in the pews for convenience, as the church fathers themselves are trench leaders in brainwashing these people).In this Alternative Bible that American conservatives follow, Christ was a warlike fascist from an upper-class suburb of Jerusalem. He looked down on poor people and thought they were to blame for their plight. He opposed the city doing anything to help them. Instead, he hung out with the moneychangers in the temples, playing golf with them and laughing at the poor beggars who would wander by asking for a sheckel to buy some food with. When the Christ from this conservative Bible would walk through the streets of the city and have to step over the sick and lame, he would hold his nose. A shame they didn’t have health care, he would think, before reminding himself that if they would just go out and get three jobs they could probably afford to heal themselves. When other people in Jerusalem started suggesting that the city do something to help the people, he fought tooth and nail against the proposals. The alternative Jesus in this Bible was also obsessed with whether Jerusalem residents were loving the RIGHT people. Whenever it was suspected that a man might be loving another man, Jesus would lead marches trying to get the townspeople to stone the sinner, or least get him to stop loving his fellow man. It was important to Jesus to keep love as a very narrowly-defined thing, practiced only by certain people in very specifically defined ways. Jesus felt there was too much love in the world, and that it should be reined in.Finally, Jesus spent most of his free time trying to get the town to go to war with neighboring cities. Jesus was a friend to anyone who felt war was the first option, and looked down on Peacemakers as weak.Yes, this alternative Jesus was a good conservative. It’s really quite a fascinating Alternative Bible that these people tote to church with them.

  • AAVp7a1

    It should be legal for anyone with a CHL to carry in a church. Apparently gunmen intent on committing homicide do not bother with the laws. Since we already know that law abiding CHL holders will obey the laws and not bring their weapons into church, but gunmen won’t, and that cops can’t be in every church everywhere, wouldn’t it be prudent to allow CHL holders to protect their own lives and carry in church?Jesus himself said to buy a sword if you didn’t have one, and if need be sell clothing to get one. I carry a glock.

  • meand2

    The State has no right to tell a legal gun owner he or she can’t carry a concealed firearm in church.

  • journeyer58

    In the annals of human history, we are and have been a species which will kill its own for pleasures unknown.

  • gazza2

    Sorry mate, we don’t have near that kind of problem over here. Quite funny watching your local news programs actually.

  • Chops2

    Meand2:They also dont have about 15-20,000 people die a year in gun related violence. Take your pick of where u r more likely to be shot, only an utterly disingenuous and factually vacant person would suggest England.If you bothered to check, a family member is far more likley to be killed than a “crook” in homes than own guns. You see proof of it constantly, I’m shocked that “pro lifers” arent more outraged, particlarly as American weapons fuel the Mexican drug war that slaughters thousands on your doorstep and which will be in a city near you very soon if not dealt with.”Crooks” being blown away by law abiding gun owners happens far too rarely other than in the fanciful world of NRA propaganda.

  • AAVp7a1

    Some of you people act as if Christians who carry a gun do so out of desire to kill other people. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We desire to be free from the negative effects of crime. We don’t want to have to shoot to protect our sons and daughters, but to keep them safe from a child molestor we will. It is not out of want or desire but necessity. I’m not sure what Bible you purport that we read out of, but I read out of the NiV and KJV.

  • khote14

    Considering all the whackos and dirty harry wannabes attending these churches these days, makes me thank god I’m an atheist.Do you people really trust those others in your church to be able to hit what they’re aiming at?I don’t have an answer for this problem, but I do know that I do not trust many of the people I know owning guns to be able to hit the right guy without accidentally shooting Ma in the face.Or have you thought it through that far yet?

  • tphishs

    I’m very confused by this line of discussion … did Christ pack a weapon to protect himself? Shouldn’t we all strive to be more Christ-like?

  • tphishs

    And btw … Pick a new banner for your column .. George Bush eclipsing the Pope?You are a sad, sad, sad, bunch of hypocrite republicans, wrecking Religion and Country .. I’m sorry, I digress.

  • elilhraira

    If Jesus was willing to die for his beliefs, early Christians argue their faith to hungry lions, shouldn’t his modern followers be just as prepared to meet their maker in the place of their choosing? Or is it the sin of pride to believe that one can deal out death and judgment on their own?

  • arkelk

    A couple of points to add to the discussion. Part of Jesus’s entourage at Gethsemane had swords as Jesus commanded one of them to put his sword away and healed the ear of the Temple servant who had been wounded by said entourage member in an attempt to protect Jesus. (I don’t remember whether it was an apostle, or one of the servants who had the sword.) Jesus also advocated that people buy means of self defense (swords back then).(As a side observation, I think that the then liberal ideas that Christ taught would be more in line with classic conservatism. There is a role for government, people are responsible for themselves and their families, and that people help the poor and weak among them–on their own and not when forced to by the government.)In colonial New England, it was REQUIRED that all families take a charged long gun (as opposed to a pistol) to church, and there was a rather steep fine if the requirement were not net. I think there was a similar requirement in Virginia as well. I don’t know about other colonies.I think it should be up to the church itself whether, and how, to allow firearms. My understanding is that self defense is completely allowed in Judaism and Christianity, as is the protection of the innocents. As was seen in Colorado, a firearm by one of the “good guys” a year or so ago (in this case from a trained, armed usher in accordance with church policies), saved many lives by stopping a deranged shooter.

  • steviana

    I agree with those folks who say we should allow law abiding citizens to own guns and other weapons, including tanks, assult rifles and WMD. After all everybody is a law abiding citizen until he or she violated the law, including a traffic ticket, or killing someone. The only question I have is whether we should extend such a wonderful right to other citizens of other God fearing nations or even nations. Such as Iran and N Korea owning nuclear weapons – N Korea fears their secular God too.Praise the Lord and pass the weapons!

  • kevrobb

    Given the militarism of American Christianity (US Christians were far more likely to favour invading Iraq, for example, than US atheists), guns in American churches seem entirely appropriate.In fact, I think many American ‘people of faith’ would be happier, deep down, if they could cut out the middleman (God), and just worship the weapons directly.

  • AnotherRealAmerican

    Just stop going to Church. It will solve all the problems.

  • lepidopteryx

    I am Pagan and also Unitarian.I use an athame in my personal rituals, but certainly don’t consider it a weapon, even though when I have invited non-Pagans to certain rituals, such as my house blessing, a few were somewhat unnerved by the fact that I had a six-inch double-edged blade sharp enough to shave with on the altar in the center of my living room. I don’t hunt (as Ron White says, I have no objection to hunting, but it’s cold and I don’t want to go), so I don’t own a gun, and am not interested in owning one. If the UU church I belong to decided to allow concealed (or open) weapons on the campus, I would resign my membership.

  • bevjims1

    The real problem that no one seems to mention is that the gun makers are the ones reaping the profits. Follow the money. The NRA may be a “club” but it seems to care more about gun sales than gun use. As with almost anything that doesn’t make sense, money is what is pushing this. More guns, more profit for gun makers. Simple. If you want to stop the push for a gun in every pocket and every place, you need to focus on those who are profiting from this idea. We discourage tobacco use by taxing it to high levels, making it less attractive to smokers. Hand guns are cheap. They don’t need to be. Hunting and other guns wouldn’t need to be taxed so high since they are less likely to be used in violent crime. We tax gasoline to pay for roads, we tax ciragettes to pay for the health effects of smoking, why don’t we tax handguns at a high rate to pay for the negative effects on society? It would discourage those who really have no need from buying a gun, provide funds to fight violent crime, and no second ammendment issues. Make a handgun as expensive as a years worth of a security service and more expensive than a hunting rifle.

  • coloradodog

    Jesus wants me with an Uzi

  • Skowronek

    For those who are advocating or are comfortable with the idea of people being armed while attending church–would you feel equally comfortable with the idea that mosque attendees were also armed? What about within a synagogue? I doubt that the laws would be changed such that only church attendees could carry guns, nor should they be so specific.We have more people to fear when we get behind the wheels of our cars, really. Some people get really, really wound-up and aggressive when they drive.

  • wpc09

    Most religions have a provision for their followers to defend themselves. But that provision does not trump the demand that one carry only the accoutrements of peace in the sanctuary of a house of worship. At shrines in the Holy Land, though there may be armed security personnel at entrance points, weapons are forbidden in the shrines themselves. I saw Israeli soldiers leave their weapons at the door in order to enter. The solution to the problem of violence is not material but spiritual. More guns will not solve it. They simply escalate the potential for more violence. Even if members of the Illinois congregation had carried concealed weapons, they would not have prevented the first shots that killed the pastor. They could well have killed others in the aftermath. The NRA and its supporters need to develop the capacity to speak and act at a moderate pitch and to understand that sensible regulation of firearms is necessary to safety and the preservation of rights.

  • theo755

    I think the idea of concealed weapons in church is absurd. First, it violates the sanctity and intention of the house of worship in a free society. Secondly, it places more emphasis on man’s ability to solve problems through force and logic, de-emphasizing the power and sovereignty of God. Third, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on anything knowing that some of my pew-mates might be packing.I think it is a typical man-centered reaction to a problem that calls for more of God’s solution than our own. If you don’t agree with me, then post here on my blog:

  • honorswar26

    I guess that I have a little different perspective because I am a pastor’s spouse. But I also support the notion that people have the right to keep and bear arms. Jesus explicitly said in the book of Luke that “If you do not have a sword (which was back then the state of the art in personal weapons), sell your cloak and buy one”. So yes, Jesus did support the right for the individual to use weapons to defend themselves. As far as concealed weapons in a place of worship being condoned, I have noticed that the church shootings have not been done primarily by members of those churches, but instead by outsiders who have a grievance against that particular church or against Christian churches in general. The problem is not the existance of guns in church. The problem is with criminals or unbalanced people in any group or assembly who are the only person who is armed while the others have no effective means of defence or deterrence. A person can easily take an automobile and ram it through a crowd leaving a church, killing far more people than if he used an automatic rifle. The “OK Corral shootup” argument has been used by every group opposed to “shall issue” concealed weapons permits, but yet in the states that approved CCW’s, the OK Corral scenario has never happened. The news doesn’t carry whenever an armed citizen stops a crime with a firearm, mostly because the mere presence of the firearm often deters the crime without a shot ever being fired. If it “doesn’t bleed, it doesn’t lead” the headlines. But such crime control happens everyday nonetheless. Just for the record. I’m not a member of the NRA, I’m not a “gun nut” and I have taken my wife out to go shooting before without incident. The gun control advocates just dont’ acknowledge the facts that responsible gun owners deter crime and that when severe gun control laws are enacted, only the criminals have guns afterwards, making overall crime worse, not better. Germany has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the world and that did not stop what happened there last week, did it?

  • timscanlon

    So when the local Imam gives everyone in the mosque a gun ya’ll are ok with that right?Or do these idea only apply to Christians? It sure seems that way.I’m sorry, but the whole idea of this being left up to churches is NOT a good plan. They should not be given rights to arm themselves into any sort of a militia either.If you’re so worried hire guards from a company that has no personal or financial ties to the church. That’s the way to avoid stepping on to a slippery slope of building literal armies for God.My rights to a civil society trump the rights of people to play cowboy games with Santa Christ & The Heathens, much less all the rest of the gun obsessed Abrahamic religious derivatives.

  • Chops2

    AAVP7A1:Yes, the laws costing lives are the current American gun laws. People dont need machine guns, they just dont, its unnecessary. In australia after the Port Arthur massacre automatic weapons were banned by the conservative Howard government and we have not seen any tragedy of that or similar magnitude since, while u in the U.S. are immune to the thousands that die every year from gun violence. U do nothing about it and until u do, kids will shoot themselves, their parents and their families, while the pro life NRA claim guns save lives. Its insane.The ludicrous political discourse makes it impossible to enact sensible laws in the U.S. as the usual claims if liberal godless heathens trying to take away our guns comes up and nothing substantitive happens.Your scared of your own society.

  • Maryann261

    Guns certainly do kill people. People who possess guns just have to pull the trigger,and they do it often enough in America. If guns were very difficult to get, there would be a lot less people shooting others in this country.A gun is one of the deadliest weapons. How can one go to church, pray, try to heed the words of Jesus while packing a concealed weapon? This has got to be the craziest thing yet. The gun nuts in America have gone over the top.