Guns in churches: help or hinder?

The first time I was confronted with the idea of a gun being in a church was when I visited The Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City, KS. I walked into the church and I saw a small sign on the window. The sign had a picture of a gun surrounded with a red circle and a red line going through the gun. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, do they have a gun problem here? In the ‘burbs?”

With gun legislation on the President Obama’s agenda and the National Rifle Association fighting against more gun restrictions, it seems every organization in our culture is thinking about guns. That includes churches. Many states, mostly in the Mid-West and the South, have laws protecting a gun owner’s right to carry a concealed weapon in a house of worship. Arkansas’s Senate just approved a bill that will allow handguns in churches and North Dakota is eying a similar bill.

With Sandy Hook still fresh on our minds, a number of politicians have come up with ideas on how to solve the problem of mass shootings in schools. In the same vein, church leaders are considering how we can better protect churches. Evacuation plans, lock down procedures, and child protection are all issues that pastors and lay leaders are looking at. But, should a plan include guns?

Rev. Walter Van Zandt Windsor, pastor of Trinity Episcopal Church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas was interview about his state’s bill on guns in churches. He said:

“I can’t imagine the need to bring a gun into a church. I just think that’s unnecessary, and I think it sends a terrible message… Religion can be an emotional thing in people’s lives. I would hate to see guns present when people’s emotions are running high.”

The American Baptist Home Mission Society recently called for “common sense” approaches to solving gun violence and issued this statement:

Firearms are a part of the history and fabric of our nation… The Supreme Court has held that the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees an individual right to “keep and bear arms,” while also making it clear that this right is “not unlimited.”1 Nor should it be. The liberties we enjoy are often in tension with one another and no right should be so broadly construed as to undermine the ability of the broader community to maintain order and the peace necessary for human life and flourishing.

Does allowing a gun in a church conflict with this idea of maintaining “order and the peace”? This is the tension that the above statement addresses. Perhaps instead of coming out and making a statement, I’m pondering these questions:

  • Do we feel more safe with guns in church? Or does it make us more fearful?
  • Does a weapon belong in God’s house of prayer?
  • Does the need to carry a weapon in church send the wrong message to those affected by violence?
  • If we call our places of worship “sanctuaries”, do guns follow the concept of having a religious place of refuge and protection?

What is your response to guns in churches? Read. Respond. Render.

Alan Rudnick

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About the Author
Alan Rudnick has been featured on television, radio, print, and social media and serves as the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ballston Spa, NY. He has quickly established himself as a leader, blogger, and commentator in the areas of faith, Christianity, ministry, and social media. He is the author of, “The Work of the Associate Pastor”, Judson Press. Alan’s writing has been featured with the Albany Times Union, The Christian Century, Associated Baptist Press, and The Fund of Theological Education. http://alanrudnick.org

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  • cahender72

    I have an answer for you and it comes way of my post today on my own blog. Here is the link:
    http://revadele.blogspot.com/2013/02/common-ground-part-2-violence.html
    It is based upon Jesus’ statement that people who live by the sword will die by the sword.

  • notebuyer
    • cahender72

      @notebuyer After reading this article I have two thoughts. One, the church chose to hire a security guard, armed in this case, which I will say is it is the duty of a security Guard to protect wherever they are hired to be. Personally, I would never carry a weapon into church as it goes against what i believe scripture teaches me and I would never subject that belief onto another person, in this case a security God. Lastly, how do you separate facts from feelings? The fact is the Guard stopped an armed intruder but still has feelings about the event.

  • JesterMcGlown

    I don’t want to rub anyone the wrong way. I am applying for a Gun Permit. It is for protection reasons only. I am not sure why we would need guns in church.
    1. Horrible Murder in Church of all placesI am still trying wrap my mind around a horrible crime near our home town. A teacher that was with our children everyday and he flips out to the point where he walks into a church service and blows away his wife as she plays the organ . He then leaves comes back and shoots her again to make sure she is dead.
    2. On May 31, 2009, George Tiller, a physician from Wichita, Kansas who was nationally known for being one of the few doctors in the United States to perform late-term abortions, was shot and killed byScott Roeder, an anti-abortion activist. Tiller was killed during a Sunday morning service at his church, Reformation Lutheran Church where he was serving as an usher. Multiple action groups and media figures have labeled Tiller’s killing an act of domestic terrorism, and an assassination
     
    Roeder was arrested within three hours of the shooting and charged with first-degree murder and related crimes two days later. In November 2009 Roeder publicly confessed to the killing, telling the Associated Press that he had shot Tiller because “preborn children’s lives were in imminent danger. Roeder was found guilty of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault on January 29, 2010,[15] and sentenced to life imprisonment without any chance for parole in 50 years.
    3. Four people are dead — including the shooter — and three state troopers were injured Friday morning in a shooting incident in Frankstown Township, Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio said.The gunman and two other men and Kimberly A. Scott, 58, of Duncansville are all dead, authorities said.The gunman is Jeffrey Lee Michael, 44, of Hollidaysburg, and the other victims are Kenneth Lynn and his son-in-law William Rhodes, sources tell the Mirror. This is only a few that I found. This is only one of the reasons that I have chosen youth ministry, because if we start teaching children when they are young, that guns are not the way, we stand a better chance of heading off so much killing. We also have to hold the people accountable for the harm they bring to our children, because that is not the way of God.