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Blessed is the peacemaker, but keep yours holstered

Blessed is the peacemaker, but keep yours holstered

If a church property is a place of peace, some want us to wonder what it takes to maintain that sense of peace: is the “peace that passes understanding” something that can be imposed with weapons?


AP reports that pro-carry-legalization advocacy group GeorgiaCarry.org is helping push the question of whether licensed gun carriers may be allowed to maintain firearms in places of worship. It’s to do with a case heard last week in The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta.

State lawyers said it was a small price to pay to allow others to pray without fearing for their safety. The panel of judges roundly criticized the suit after hearing arguments but did not immediately make a ruling.

Georgia is one of a handful of states with such restrictions — court papers say Arkansas, Mississippi and North Dakota have adopted similar laws — and court observers, religious leaders and Second Amendment groups are closely watching this case.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the Baptist Tabernacle of Thomaston, where the Rev. Jonathan Wilkins said he wanted to have a gun for protection while working in the church office. The judges also questioned how banning firearms in a place of worship violates religious freedoms.

An key question, that last one. One that speaks to the religiosity with which we sometimes cling to that which is not patently religious. A quick scan of GeorgiaCarry.org shows that this group’s main religion is the simple clause “shall not be infringed,” and that all else pales in this light. So keeping my gun away during a worship service is a form of my religious freedom being violated. It’s a bit of twisted logic, all right, but no one’s saying this has to make sense.

If anything, perhaps it demonstrates the extent to which the formerly discrete categories of “Gods, guns, and gays” have conflated themselves. If you aren’t allowed to carry anywhere you want, that’s the same as taking away your Bible.

Again, and having grown up in Oklahoma, I don’t claim to adhere to this thinking, but I think I can outline it, as odd as that sounds. Such a strange thought on the Sunday we read of Paul’s blessing prayer of peace to the Philippians.

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Dirk C. Reinken

@Paige -

I don't think it's appropriate in any universe.

I also don't think the church needs civil protection to prevent it. All it has to do is post a policy that no weapons are allowed.

(And watch for all those ceremonial swords that tend to show up at military and celtic affairs in church, as well.)

Dirk

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Paige Baker

Rather, the change to the law allows churches to permit people to bring their weapons.

In what moral universe is that appropriate? What in the Gospels would lead *any* Christian to believe that bringing guns to church is an acceptable thing to do?

And do you really think Jesus would have "packed heat"?

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Dirk C. Reinken

I'm admittedly unclear because I've only followed media coverage, but as I understand it, no church can be required to allow weapons. Rather, the change to the law allows churches to permit people to bring their weapons. If that's the case - I'm neutral. That leaves the power of the decision up to the congregation or judicatory and its leadership as I believe it should be.

If it's a case where the changed law would require churches to permit individuals to bring weapons, then I would oppose it. It would also likely be unconstitutional.

Dirk Reinken

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tgflux

I think it's appropriate for the church to feel ambivalent about laws---ALL laws, even when we feel sympathy w/ them.

The ambivalence originates in this: we, who follow the Prince of Peace, via laws are inviting those carry weapons (along w/ badges) to impose An Answer.

Even as I hope and pray for TEC to (for example) get its property back from those who would illegally take it, I remain profoundly uncomfortable w/ the knowledge that such judgments can only be enFORCED by those w/ guns.

JC Fisher

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Paige Baker

I'd be interested to know how priests are reacting to this idea....

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