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Security vs. Sanctity: Carrying in Spiritual Settings

by Cathleen Vought

Though carrying in a place of worship is often a matter of hot debate, regularly getting into the “faith versus security” argument, carrying can be balanced with a spiritual viewpoint. If you’re getting ready to start that discussion at your place of worship, here are some prime examples of why spiritual groups should allow firearm carry on their worship sites.

Freistatt, Missouri

A few years ago, at a small Lutheran church and school in Freistatt, Missouri, a man with a shotgun broke in just before Sunday services. Though he left the building and was apprehended, having something like this happen stirred up the congregation and the pastor, a former law enforcement officer, had several discussions over the following weeks.

One of the first was with a church member. “Don’t worry, Pastor B., I’ve got you covered from the balcony,” the man reassured. The school’s principal released a statement thanking a local glass company for coming out on a Sunday so that school could start on time on Monday morning while assuring the community that the school’s lockdown procedures had worked perfectly.

Why is this example important to me? It’s the church and school our family worship and learns at.

Aurora, Colorado

When the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting in 2012 happened, gun control advocates thought the dozen lives lost in a theater a great poster child for why gun control was needed. What they missed was the fact that the theater had banned weapons from being carried, preventing anyone from taking down the killer.

A few months earlier, in the same town, a man freshly released from prison went to a local church to start a shooting, assuming it was a soft target. He found out differently when an off-duty police officer church member drew his concealed firearm after the shooter opened fire, killing the shooter. There were two fatalities at that church, the first victim and the shooter.

Though Shalt Not Murder

Naysayers will argue that the commandment of thou shalt not murder which crosses many faiths applies and that carrying into a place of worship goes against that commandment. I have a problem with that. I’m not a loose cannon and I’m not looking for someone to kill when I carry. But I think I have just as strong an obligation to that commandment by preventing someone else from killing.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian during WWII who opposed the Nazis, stated, “If I see a madman driving a car into a group of innocent bystanders, then I can’t, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe and then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver.” If I, personally, have to take a life to save fifty, or even ten, such as Abraham’s negotiation with God (Genesis 18:24-32), I will do so. Stopping a murderer and saving lives is well worth the cost of my repentance.

Have Faith

Another argument against carrying in spiritual settings by people of all faiths is that it shows a lack of faith. Stonewall Jackson was a very spiritual man, leading Sunday school classes for freedmen during the Civil War. When he earned his nickname of Stonewall, one of his men asked him how he could sit so brave and tall on his horse during battle. He replied that his faith did not allow him to do otherwise, as God knew the time of his death and he was as safe on the battlefield as in bed.

As a Christian, I’ve been instructed to go forth and make disciples of all nations. I can’t do that if I’m dead. By defending myself, my family and my spiritual friends, I’m giving us all a chance to carry out that instruction. Similarly, those who do good works in the community cannot help those in need if dead. Families are torn apart by death. It’s not a matter of faith, it’s a matter of prudence. Do I have faith? Absolutely.

I’m sure I’ve probably stepped on some toes in this post, though that was not the intention. If you are active in a spiritual community, please bring these matters before your group. If you’re not, I’ll defend you anyways.

Image courtesy of West Midlands Police.

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