Churches are sacred spaces, places where we go to connect with the Almighty. For many, that purpose is so sacred they don’t think don’t want to even think about the bad things that may happen while they’re worshipping. Unfortunately, Sutherland Springs eradicated that willful naivety so many have embraced. Now, many pastors are considering arming themselves. Many Christians are considering packing in the church as well.
An Anglican bishop and elected constable in Pennsylvania offered up his thoughts on why he’s now considering carrying in the pulpit, as well.
As a law enforcement officer, I carry a gun almost anywhere. But I never take it to my other workplace — a church. Besides being a state constable, I’m also a church rector and an Anglican bishop. I am, however, thinking of changing that personal gun ban for the greater good.
My reconsideration began this past Sunday afternoon while I was trying to enjoy my post-church nap. I was awoken by multiple chirps from my phone. People were texting me about another church shooting. Some craven individual — for motives still unknown — opened fire in a scared space, killing dozens and injuring more.
It’s shocking that, in a nation founded on the idea of religious freedom, there are monsters out there who now think it’s fair game target people of faith with deadly force. I’m no stranger to religious bigotry and the condescension of non-believers, but recent church shootings like those in Charleston, South Carolina and Antioch, Tennessee in addition to this latest one in Sutherland Springs, Texas bring intolerance to a frightening new level.
When I previously assessed my duties as a law enforcement officer, priest and bishop, I decided not to carry my pistol with me when attending Sunday services. I made this choice at my own person peril because I have recently received credible personal threats and routinely come across people I’ve arrested.
This is also despite the fact that, in my capacity as an officer, I have provided protection at synagogues and churches when there was concern about the safety of their congregants. Until now, I didn’t think it was appropriate for me and my church.
The bishop, Bishop Council Nedd, isn’t as unusual in this as many might think.
My father was a police officer for almost 30 years. He is a Vietnam veteran and a staunch defender of the Second Amendment. But when the subject of carrying came up a few years ago, he confessed that he was completely uncomfortable carrying in church. That may stem from the fact that before he was a policeman or a veteran he was the son of a Freewill Baptist pastor.
Regardless, he wouldn’t carry in church. This was despite me pointing out how many mass shootings happened in churches, mind you. He just wasn’t comfortable with it.
He probably felt a lot like Bishop Nedd.
Yet many people are rethinking the idea of carrying a gun in a church, and that’s a good thing. We’ve had far too many tragedies because of disarmed congregations in this country, it’s time we start making it clear that our churches are not safe hunting grounds for these maniacs.