Guns in Churches?
The Huffingon Post recently featured an article entitled "Guns In Church, The Debate Over Armed Preachers Heats Up":
At the heart of the debate is a difference in theological opinion; those for and against both say they've got God on their side. For some, guns and faith are at odds. They believe in praying for safety and in turning the other cheek. But others cite increasing violence on church properties and say that faith alone is not always enough.
I empathize with those who are fearful. I am blessed to live in an area that is perceived as safe. However, this may be a false perception, as many of these shootings in churches and schools take place in areas not unlike mine. After all, it only takes one person overwhelmed by his or her circumstances with easy access to guns to change that view.
What does the Episcopal Church say about guns?
We recently put together this document compiling Episcopal Church resolutions and statements from Executive Council regarding guns. Of particular note is the following:
Resolution 2012-D003 requests every parish and every diocesan place of work to declare their establishments as Gun Free Zones.
This seems like a good and reasonable request to me. Even a casual review of the news will demonstrate routine accidents caused by guns that were thought to be secured. However, my concern is not about whether or not the guns will be used appropriately. My objection is based instead on the mere presence of a gun during worship.
Guns change the equation. For some, they provide a vivid reminder of an accident or untimely death of a loved one. It is impossible for me to see a handgun without thinking of my college friend who committed suicide. While I know that for others guns generate a positive feeling, doesn't the fact that their presence will cause pain for some in our churches argue for their removal?
Church should be a safe place. It should be safe in as many ways for as many people as possible. Precautions should be taken to make our churches safe physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. If anyone perceives our church as unsafe in any of these ways, we should examine that issue with the serious intention to address it in the best way possible for those affected, in a way consistent with our beliefs and values.
The Episcopal Church has heard the concerns of those who are fearful. We have deliberated seriously and given careful thought to how we should respond as Christians. We have decided that guns have no place in our churches.
Image via The Episcopal Church