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Should we carry guns in church?

Should we carry guns in church?

“Thou shalt not kill,” or “Thou shalt not murder”?

So far it’s been difficult to get information on the question of whether the parishioners in the Texas church where yesterday’s mass murder took place were prohibited from carrying guns. Here are the pertinent rules in Texas:

Churches in Texas may prevent handgun license holders from carrying handguns inside church buildings as long as the church gives proper notice. Each church may decide for itself whether to allow:

Both open and concealed carry of handguns
Concealed carry of handguns but not open carry
Open carry of handguns and not concealed carry
No handguns regardless of whether they are carried openly or concealed

A church does not need to take any action if it wishes to allow handgun license holders to conceal carry or open carry in church buildings. If permitting handgun license holders to conceal carry or open carry on church premises is a cause of concern to your church, Texas Penal Code Sections 30.006 and 30.007 provide clear rules for notifying handgun license holders that your church is a gun-free zone or concealed carry only.

So it seems to be a church-by-church decision, but as yet we don’t know which rules were followed by the church where the massacre occurred. Obviously, however, if there was a no-gun rule there, it didn’t deter the gunman and it’s even possible that it encouraged him.

Apparently the question of whether to carry guns into a church is a topic that’s been debated both legally and within Christianity itself:

Whereas states like South Carolina ban guns in church in most instances, Texas allows firearms in sanctuary halls unless a church explicitly says otherwise. And a new Texas law signed in September allows houses of worship in the state to arm their congregations as a security measure.

However, while it’s certainly not unusual for churches to have security precautions or personnel, many faith leaders rebuke Paxton and Jeffress’ ideas that guns should be allowed in Sunday morning services. A 2012 PRRI poll found that 76 percent of Americans oppose allowing concealed weapons in church; This includes pastors in Texas, where many churches opted to ban guns on their premises after open-carry became the law of the land there in 2016. The Catholic Bishop of Dallas, for instance, banned guns in all his diocese’s parishes that year, following the lead of Catholic leaders who took similar steps in Georgia. Other Catholics also spoke out against open carry.

There’s this:

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory and Savannah Bishop Gregory Hartmayer issued a decree prohibiting guns and knives with blades longer than 5 inches from parishes, churches, schools, administrative offices and other buildings owned or used by the Catholic community effective July 1.

In a statement, the bishops said Catholic places of worship are sanctuaries where “ways of peace and reconciliation” should be the rule.

“This decree is rooted in the belief that our churches and other places of worship are intended to be sanctuaries — holy sites where people come to pray and to worship God. In this nation of ours, they have seldom been the locations where violence has disrupted the otherwise peaceful atmosphere. Should it be necessary, we will seek the assistance of trained law enforcement personnel for protection, but among ourselves we will first seek ways of peace and reconciliation.”

That statement was issued back in July of 2014. But if you are going to “seek the assistance of trained law enforcement personnel for protection” if the death toll in churches meets your standard for activating armed self-defense, then why not let your church members protect themselves as well? After all, an armed guard can be more easily shot or disarmed than a church full of armed—or possibly armed—worshipers.

More here:

Other critics of gun violence include Shane Claiborne, a prolific Christian speaker and writer who works with an initiative that literally melts down AR-15s—weapons similar to the one reportedly used by Sutherland shooter—and turns them into plowshares, in keeping with a biblical reference.

When asked about Paxton and Jeffress’ comments, Claiborne responded by citing various Christian scriptures decrying violence and weaponry.

“Jesus carried a cross not a gun,” Claiborne told ThinkProgress. “He said greater love has no one that this—to lay down their life for another. The early Christians said ‘for Christ we can die but we cannot kill.’ When Peter picked up a sword to protect Jesus and cut off a guys ear, Jesus scolded him and put the ear back on. The early Christians said ‘when Jesus disarmed peter he disarmed every Christian.’ Evil is real but Jesus teaches us to fight evil without becoming evil. On the cross we see what love looks like when it stares evil in the face. Love is willing to die but not to kill.”

However, I’ve always been under the impression that that “swords into plowshares” verse—and the Book of Isaiah in general—is a prophecy, not a description of the way things are now. In addition, doesn’t that story about Jesus, Peter, and the ear (with which I was previously unfamiliar) appear to be, not a general call for complete non-violence, but a specific call to allow the process by which Jesus was arrested, sentenced, and later crucified to unfold?:

According to the Bible, one of the disciples, Simon Peter, being armed with a sword, cut off the servant’s ear in an attempt to prevent the arrest of Jesus…

Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

I would add that the Commandment that is often cited as being “Thou shalt not kill” is a mistranslation of the Hebrew, which originally said “Thou shalt not murder.”

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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“Should we carry guns in church?”


Luke 22:36.

    Also Proverbs 24: 10-12.

    It seems that we are advised (or commanded) to act to preserve innocent life, by arms if necessary.

    DaveGinOly in reply to ttl. | November 7, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    Precisely. Jesus was implying that the spread of his Word was so important that its carriers should, if necessary, use lethal force to protect themselves and their message.

    Jesus was upset at Simon Paul for attempting to defend him (Jesus) from the Roman soldiers because he was intent on meeting his fate as his Father willed. Jesus believed that if his Father wanted him saved, he would be saved. If not, then all struggle would be useless.

    I’m an atheist, and don’t find any contradiction here.

DieJustAsHappy | November 7, 2017 at 5:49 pm

Shall not the strong defend the weak, defenseless, and themselves?

Yes, it’s open season on Christians

    Ragspierre in reply to gonzotx. | November 7, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    But just the white ones, right? Because you told us that all black people want to either kill or enslave all white people.

    I mean, according to what you said…

Colonial-era Americans weren’t afraid to carry guns in their churches.

    alaskabob in reply to tom_swift. | November 7, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    Afraid? They had to. Recently, a cop asked an elderly woman who carried what she was afraid of….She said, “nothing”!

    Mannie in reply to tom_swift. | November 8, 2017 at 8:51 am

    In some towns, they were required to. A few years ago, a Citizen performed a Citizen’s arrest on the Chief of Police for not carrying his musket in church. The cop went along, realizing it was a prank.

“Thou shalt do no murder” is a better translation than “Thou shalt not kill.”

On Sunday afternoon, after I saw the news, I wrote to my co-parishioner who is, I know, a concealed carry permit holder, about what NC law says. Concealed carry permit holders can carry in any public or private setting where carrying is not prohibited by law or where there is no sign posted prohibiting weapons. Churches are okay as long as they do not prohibit it clearly. We also have panic alarms with the security system, and ushers know how to activate them.

As I understand the Commandment also… it is “thou shalt not murder.” (Gee, they spoke King James type English during Moses’ days!)

There are plenty of killing in the Old Testament…. and , of course, murder.

William Tyndale used original Greek and Hebrew texts to translate a Bible into English of which about 80% or so was retained within the King James Version. Even then the verbiage was out of date but used to give an “older” quality to the Bible.

End Times prophesy notes very tough times for both Jews and Christians.

Should we carry guns in church?

Well, gee, I dunno. Should we have fire extinguishes in our homes cars and places of work, hospitals and schools? Should we wear seat belts? Should we look both ways when crossing the street?

It’s all personal responsibility. If you don’t care about being prepared for trouble, we’ll, don’t cry about it when you’re in a tight spot and completely unprepared.

Never really understood the philosophy that places of worship are antithetical to violence. God (or Allah or Jehova or whomever) have entire books sitting on the alters of every house and worship full of God’s own acts of murder and mass killings. God’s children (us) get slaughtered every day around the world, individually and in groups, regardless of where we are, so why should we even need to ask such a question?

let he who has a cloak, something something sword.

i don’t have a choice these days, other than on my property, since i live in #Failifornia, but, given my druthers, i wouldn’t go unarmed ANYWHERE in public these days

I believe a better translation is – Thou shall not take innocent life.

    RickTheBear in reply to DCP. | November 8, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    DCP, the original Hebrew word is “murder”. Murder is, of course, the taking (or ending) or innocent life.

First of all, a clarification of the LAW with regard to carry by those licensed by the State of Texas to carry a firearm.

Churches, in Texas, are now treated the same as businesses in that state with regard to entry onto the premises by armed licensed carriers. A sign has to be prominently posted which notifies the carrier that he may not enter while armed. This signage has to conform to Texas statute 30.06 and/or 30.07, depending upon which mode of carry [open or concealed] is being banned. Verbal warning may be issued, after a person has entered the church, and must be honored by the carrier, if no signage is present.

Now should people voluntarily disarm themselves simply because they are in a church, or other worship venue? I will not. I never did while I was working in law enforcement and I will not do so now.

We could debate the morality, ethics and philosophy of using deadly force against another human being, but that would not be productive, here. We have been given free will, by our Creator. What we choose to do is up to us, as individuals. Personally, I will chance displeasing God to protect the life of an innocent on this plane. In any case, He will judge both myself and the person whom I am forced to send “Home”.

    DaveGinOly in reply to Mac45. | November 7, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    In many jurisdictions, the worst that can happen to a carrier who violates a private business’s ban on firearms is that he can be cited for trespass, but then only if he refuses to leave the premises upon being asked to do so. Check out your local laws, and you may find that there’s little to worry about when carrying in a private “gun free” zone. (Locations that are “gun free” by law are a different matter.)

      A caveat here. Though most of these violations are trespass, they are usually trespass with a deadly weapon or armed trespass, which is usually a felony crime. Conviction can result in jail time and losing the right to vote and own or posses a firearm, among other things.

Herschel at The Captains Journal broke this issue down more thoroughly than I could ever dream:

It’s a worthwhile, but long read. To whit: Defending innocent life, Biblically speaking, goes far beyond a “right”; it is a solemn duty to heads-of-house and the able-bodied to defend the lives and livelihoods of those who can’t defend themselves.

My response to the Atlanta and Savannah (Georgia) bishops’ statement — “In a statement, the bishops said Catholic places of worship are sanctuaries where ‘ways of peace and reconciliation’ should be the rule” — is that there are always exceptions to every rule, even in the Bible. “Ways of peace and reconciliation” should be the rule, right up until you encounter someone who refuses to play by the rules.

“Thou shalt not kill” or “thou shalt not commit murder” were never intended to disallow taking the life of criminals convicted justly of capital offenses, or taking lives on the battlefield of a righteous war, or taking a life in defense of self or others (indeed, none of these are “murder”, so the latter translation is far more accurate).

A final thought, to share with anyone who subscribes to the “pacifist hippie” image of Christ — meaning He disavowed all violence — let me post a reminder: When asking yourself, “What would Jesus do?”, keep in mind that throwing over tables and driving out interlopers with a whip (John 2:13-17) is not out of the realm of possibility. 😉

amatuerwrangler | November 7, 2017 at 7:14 pm

Those who object to armed people in the congregation, as shown above in the Atlanta diocese, should give some serious thought to this old, but true saying: “When seconds count, the police are just minutes away.”

On Sunday the first officers arrived at the church just four (4) minutes after receiving the first call, they say. No one said just when in the course of that event that call was made. Twenty-seven people were dead or dying by the time the police arrived.

2nd Ammendment Mother | November 7, 2017 at 7:15 pm

“The Catholic Bishop of Dallas {and the mostly rural Ft Worth Parish, as well}, for instance, banned guns in all his diocese’s parishes that year, following the lead of Catholic leaders who took similar steps in Georgia.”

I still remember this day vividly, mainly because this was something I felt our Bishop should have left to individual parishes. He doesn’t drive 30 to 60 miles to Mass. He doesn’t encounter snakes, hogs or other wildlife on his daily travels. My concerns were less about an attack on my parish and more about the real possibility of auto thefts and the contents of my vehicle falling into the wrong hands – we do have a serious drug problem in our community, so folks with problems looking for easy cash aren’t that far fetched. The most control I have over my firearms are when they are on my person and under my control.

When our priest made the announcement, I was a bit dismayed by the reasoning. Yes, we do desire our sanctuaries to be a place of peace, however, there was no acknowledgement of the roles defenders of the faith have played through history. He closed with a “lecture” that if we found our parish attacked, HE was ready to be a martyr for Christ. And I thought, that’s great for you… but, there are 40 young children in this room. After you become that martyr, they will follow. And my question still remains…. I have the right to choose to be a martyr for my faith, but I don’t have the right to martyr the person and especially the child sitting next to me.

Since that time we’ve had two different guest missionaries speak to our parish. The first was an Irish priest who serves in Columbia who described having his sanctuary sprayed by gunfire by the cartels. The second were nuns who were present when Father Stanley Rother was executed by the Guatemalan government while saying Mass.

I’ve had many discussions with our priest since that time, pointing out the absurdity of only banning firearms, but not the knives in the parish kitchen or the scissors and letter openers in the parish offices… and of course, those candle bases on the alter would be capable of busting a skull.

Not all Texas Dioceses went along with the ban, so I’m hoping when faced with the reality of Kelley specifically targeting children, the Bishop will realize that there is still a need for defenders of the faith if for no other reason than to protect our children from Martyrdom.

    DieJustAsHappy in reply to 2nd Ammendment Mother. | November 7, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Very well said, especially with regards to the question of martyrdom. The priest may sacrifice himself, but it is not his to intentionally position others to be sacrificed. It doesn’t seem as though there are any signs that these violent acts are going to end. So, may reason and wisdom guide those in authority.

The state has no authority to determine the legality of people carrying into a church… other than acknowledging the right of the church (like any organization) to self-determine what THEIR policies are concerning the issue.

The church, either individually or in the aggregate, is not a creation of the state, or beholden to it in any way other than the normal, non-specific concerns such as building codes and other general issues that apply to every business/organization.

I certainly do, a Ruger LCP in my front pocket & my wife always has her S&W 642 .38 Spl in her purse next to her. It’s not polite to ask so I don’t but I’m fairly sure two other gentlemen in our small (60 souls avg on a Sun morn) congregation do, as well. One has a front plate on his Jeep that is engraved RKBA & the other I’ve run into at a local indoor range.

Should we carry guns in church? Yes! Everyone else has covered this pretty well, so I’ll just add this: Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!

The Hebrew word in Exodus 20 is rasah. It’s better defined as murder than kill. In Numbers 35, the same word is used as a noun that translates as manslayer.

You ask that like you didn’t already.

I would add that the Commandment that is often cited as being “Thou shalt not kill” is a mistranslation of the Hebrew, which originally said “Thou shalt not murder.”

Well, not quite. The verb רצח, as used in the Bible, almost always refers to unlawful killing, whether murder or manslaughter, except in Numbers 35:37, where it is used of a killing that is explicitly permitted. If a manslaughterer leaves his sanctuary city before the High Priest dies, and his victim’s avenger finds him, the avenger is permitted, perhaps even commanded, to kill him, but the verb used for this act is not הרג but רצח. This one exception proves that the difference between הרג and רצח is more subtle than simply that between lawful and unlawful.

    Avraham in reply to Milhouse. | November 8, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    True, but the הלכה is clear that one is allowed to kill a רודף, someone actively trying to murder another human being, so the prohibition would not apply in these kinds of cases anyway.

      Milhouse in reply to Avraham. | November 8, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      Irrelevant. Nobody is questioning whether it’s lawful to kill an aggressor. The question is the correct translation of לא תרצח. Most people who care about this insist that it be translated “do not murder”, and that does seem to be a better translation than “do not kill”, but the example from Numbers shows that it’s not as simple as that. It shows that there are at least some lawful killings which fit within the definition of רצח.

If Jesus had an AR and a bag with several loaded 30 round clips he wouldn’t have had to carry that cross.

    Immolate in reply to faboutlaws. | November 8, 2017 at 9:59 am

    Jesus never “had” to carry the cross (in fact Simon of Cyrene carried it most of the way). But he was sent here for that purpose. Not my will, but thy will be done.

I carried in church once, but it interfered with my guitar playing while leading worship.


No reason not to.

With Liberal anti-Christian mass-murderers multiplying like rabbits, be crazy if you didn’t.

There have already been a couple attempted mass-murders in Churches that were stopped almost immediately by a law-abiding citizen with a gun. Of course, the legacy-liberal press covered those events perfunctorily as “local” news, so most people never heard about them.

I never understood teaching that says I’m supposed to let someone murder me and/or those I love. “Thou shalt not kill” in this context, is clearly a prohibition against being the aggressor, same as the second amendment is not so much about guns, knives, swords or cannons specifically, but about the right to DEFEND yourself and loved ones an aggressor, be it a tyrannical government or bad guy/gal that thinks something you have is worth killing you over.

I don’t see a need for a push for open carry, but concealed carry within the congregation should be assumed within the group and others coming in from outside. A church, like any other location where people know there are no weapons for self protection…. are called potential free-kill zones. There is little valid reason for someone not protecting their members or customers.

buckeyeminuteman | November 8, 2017 at 7:11 am

It doesn’t surprise me one bit that many Catholic churches prohibit concealed firearms. But Baptist churches in flyover states are a different matter.

I would feel much more comfortable in church knowing that somebody had a firearm to defend us. After this past Sunday’s horrible tragedy, I’m not going to hope someone else has one. My family’s safety is my responsibility and nobody else’s. It’s time to arm up and pray for the Lord’s swift return.

Jesus did not “disarm Peter” – in fact, before they left the upper room, Jesus said things would be different once he left them, and they should sell their cloak to buy a sword – when the disciples said “look we have two swords” Jesus said that’s sufficient. The reason he told Peter to put away the sword at his arrest is that the sword was for protection against criminals, not for insurrection – the arrest of Jesus was necessary for our salvation. Read it in Luke’s Gospel – not exactly hard to find.

    I’ve given a lot of thought to the commandment to, if one has no sword, he should sell his cloak and buy one, followed by two swords being enough for twelve men.

    The apparent disconnect is that in the former, Jesus seems to be saying that every man should be armed, but the latter seems to contradict that.

    I believe Jesus is saying that even though everyone will face persecution for their faith, not everyone will face violence, and so not everyone needs to be armed. However, if someone feels called to arm themselves, they should absolutely do so.

    By extension, they should absolutely be able to do so (read: appropriate arms should be available for sale to meet that need).

    The long and short is, some are called to preach and minister, some are called to missionary work and outreach, some are called to be defenders of the faith (and of the faithful), and some (thankfully few) are called to martyrdom. Whatever our various callings, we are to equip ourselves properly for them and don’t deny or delay them when they come (Luke 9:59-62).

Gun free zones are killing zones (are we still talking about that?)

What fool is not armed these days?

Luke:36“Now, however, He told them, “the one with a purse should take it, and likewise a bag; and the one without a sword should sell his cloak and buy one. 37For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about Me is reaching its fulfillment.”…

It’s hardly scripture, but, “It takes but one to make a war, not two, and those who do not have swords may still die upon them.”
– Eowyn (LOTR)

Should we have fire extinguishers in all places of business? Should we have life preservers on all watercraft? Should we first aid kits in all schools? Should we have jacks in all automobile trunks? Where does this mentality that we must wait for the police to solve all violent problems? Police fill out post action reports. Just like this shooting at the church, they filled out a post-action report.

None of the experts in the article quoted what Jesus said about buying a weapon in Luke 22:36! Read it for yourself in context:

Thou should be allowed to defend thyself, though!!

1) LK 11:21 – When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his good are in peace; but when one stronger than heassails him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor which he trusted and divides his spoils.
2) Lk 22:36 – He said to them, “but now, let him who has a purse take it, and likewise a bag. And let him who has no sword sell his mantle (cloak) and buy one.”
3)”Though defensive violence will always be ‘a sad necessity’ in the eyes of men of principle it would be still more unfortunate if’s wrongdoers should dominate just men.” St Augustine
“Without a doubt one is allowed to resist against the unjust aggressor to one’s life, one’s goods or one’s physical integrity; sometimes even ’till the aggressors death … In the fact this act is aimed at preserving one’s life or one’s goods and to make the aggressor powerless. Thus it is a good act, which is the right of the victim.” St. Thomas Aquinas