Arkansas Pastors Divided Over Packing Heat in Church


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Intrepid Dad
February 15, 2009, 10:11 AM
Here's an interesting article on the battle to allow churches in Arkansas to allow concealed carry in church. The emphasis in the article is on the right of churches to choose what is right for them, free from government intrusion.

I love the following qote from the article:

Opponents say worshippers should be allowed to pray without worrying whether the person next to them is armed.

I'm sure the current law is very effective in stopping people who want to bring a gun into church with intent to harm others. Of course, only the law abiding will obey the law.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,493010,00.html

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas pastors may soon have to worry about more than their flocks' spiritual battles. After a number of shootings in churches nationwide, should congregants be allowed to bring concealed weapons into their sanctuaries?

Under current Arkansas law, holders of concealed weapons permits can take their guns anywhere they want except bars and houses of worship. A bill in the state Senate would let churches decide for themselves whether weapons should be allowed.

"I believe it would disturb the sanctity and tranquility of church" said Pastor John Phillips, a bill opponent who was shot twice in the back as he finished a service 23 years ago. If a church opts out, "Do you want ushers to stop you at the door and frisk you?"

The bill's supporters say the issue isn't gun rights but a constitutionally protected right for churches to set their own rules. Opponents say worshippers should be allowed to pray without worrying whether the person next to them is armed.

Nathan Petty, a pastor at Beech Grove Baptist Church in Fordyce, has presented to legislators a petition from 40 preachers who support the bill.

"It's not about gun rights, it's about church rights," Petty said. "Is it right for the state to make that decision for the church?"

Phillips said there could have been carnage at his Ward Chapel Church in Little Rock if someone else had been armed when he was attacked by a parishioner's relative for a still-unknown reason.

"People are not going to react the way they think they're going to react in the heat of the moment. It was utter chaos when I was shot," said Phillips, who still carries one of the bullets in his body.

The bill, by Republican Rep. Beverly Pyle, passed the House on Wednesday and is pending before a Senate committee.

Grant Exton, the executive director of the Arkansas Concealed Carry Association, said allowing concealed weapons would not make churches more likely to have volatile situations — but adds that that is not his point.

"It's a problem of (the government) telling churches what to do in an area of moral issue, where that should be none of their business," Exton said. Of 48 states that allow concealed carry, 42 let churches make the decision, Exton said.

"We have the government in an area that it shouldn't be," he said.

If the current law is not changed, it is subject to a challenge on constitutional grounds, said John DiPippa, the interim dean at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law.

A law prohibiting guns from places of worship is similar to a law requiring that churches permit guns, because the government is forcing a decision on a religious institution based on moral grounds, he said. "On the religious argument, you could make the same claim in both directions."

Religious leaders have a responsibility to protect their congregations both spiritually and physically, said Mark DeYmaz, a pastor at Mosaic Church in Little Rock. He opposes allowing guns in churches but said each religious establishment must decide for itself.

"A good shepherd would not allow a wolf near his flock," said DeYmaz, whose church is located in one of the city's tougher areas.

After a man in Colorado went on a shooting spree at two religious facilities in 2007, DeYmaz' community established "the Mosaic Watchmen," a group of ushers trained in security measures but designed to uphold the church's image as a sacred place — not an armed church.

"We're there to be a light in the community, and we don't like the image that would give us," DeYmaz said.

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SCKimberFan
February 15, 2009, 11:02 AM
Opponents say worshippers should be allowed to pray without worrying whether the person next to them is armed.

Should they be in a church that is the scene of a shooting, they would be praying that the person beside them is armed!

John828
February 15, 2009, 11:11 AM
One of our members, RevNate, is at the spearhead of this debate. If you are really interested you could do a search of threads he has started. If you are truly interested, you could singlehandedly change the course of public debate like he has.

Thanks, RevNate.

The Lone Haranguer
February 15, 2009, 11:45 AM
Why is this even a state law? Should it not be up to the church members?

In the coming years I am expecting terrorist attacks on churches.

John828
February 15, 2009, 11:58 AM
In the coming years I am expecting terrorist attacks on churches.
Today 09:11 AM

From the government or jihadists?

SaxonPig
February 15, 2009, 12:15 PM
When AR enacted the carry law about 19 years ago, legislators were trying to ally the fears of the uninformed by outlawing carry in churches, schools, anywhere alcohol is served, government buildings, events with more than 500 people, parks, etc etc. The result was that having a permit in this state wasn't of much use with so many places legally off limits.

Over the past couple of years the law has been amended to remove parks, restaurants that serve liquor, and now churches from the prohibited list. There will soon be a push to allow carry on college campuses by licensed employees.

It's rarely possible to pass a law with everything you want. Often the best path is to get a rough draft of the law in place, then you tinker it into what you really want. This how the Liberals have taken over the country and turned it into the USSA. I don't mind using the same tactic to try to win it back. But some folks have an all or nothing attitude which sounds good in theory but is rarely a winning political strategy.

Prince Yamato
February 15, 2009, 06:00 PM
"A good shepherd would not allow a wolf near his flock," said DeYmaz, whose church is located in one of the city's tougher areas.

A church itself is a physical building. It may be sanctified, blessed, or whatever Mormon's do to their temples, but on a basic and earthly level, it is a building. Everyone pictures churches as the place you go to worship, but there are other buildings on the church grounds as well; rectories, community centers, etc. Not everything going on will be related to Sunday services, Masses, or Divine Liturgies. There are church employees who work odd hours, sometimes at night, sometimes alone in a big parish. Maybe they don't want to have to go alone to their car at night unarmed. Maybe they don't want to have to use the church bathroom without a gun on them at night. Some older parishes have restrooms that are literally in the bowels of the church and are a little scary to go to in the day time (especially if you have a church that has an "open-door" policy that lets the homeless wander in).

How about thinking of it another way:

I'm Catholic and as a Catholic, I (should) go to confession. My sins are usually swearing or looking lustfully at a woman or something like that. There are others who confess to murder; so at some given point, there (could be or) is a murderous criminal in the line for the confessional with everyone else. What if that murderer has a change of heart for the worst, decides that he's going to hell anyway and might as well take the rest of the confessors and the priest out with him? See... there's more than meets the eye. Or that person could confess to the priest and still never turn himself in to the authorities and be sitting next to you at Mass.

Not everyone who goes to church is innocent. Not everyone is looking to be saved.

Do people think of these things? I honestly believe that many people making these CCW laws never spend much time in (a) church beyond making a Sunday morning appearance and understand little about church operating procedures.

Deltaboy
February 15, 2009, 07:40 PM
Well I am an Ordained Minister and I have carried in the pullpit in some inner city places I have preached.

Better safe than sorry.

6_gunner
February 15, 2009, 08:10 PM
Does the ACLU have anything to say about laws that forbid carrying in places of worship?

They're normally gung-ho about anything related to "the separation of church and state." It would be funny (but not surprising) for them to remain silent on a blatant civil rights violation since it happens to concern firearms.

I don't understand how anybody could support outlawing weapons in churches. How could that possibly be any concern of the government?

SCKimberFan
February 15, 2009, 09:01 PM
From the government or jihadists?

Yes.

TRGRHPY
February 15, 2009, 10:34 PM
My father is a CoC minister. He has NO problem with members who are armed. He is a Marine (once and always) and usually has one either on him or within arms reach.

With that being said:
Why should churches be any different than any other business? Private business' can post a sign saying no firearms, so why can't a church? Is there some kind of evidence to support that people are at far greater risk of being attackd while in church as opposed to a convenience store?

If the church members want to carry in a church where the leaders don't allow it, they have options. They can go to another church....raise the issue before the congregation and put it to a vote....or carry anyway and pray to God that nobody notices.


Many of the same arguments that Students for Concealed Carry use can be used here.

akodo
February 15, 2009, 10:46 PM
A law prohibiting guns from places of worship is similar to a law requiring that churches permit guns, because the government is forcing a decision on a religious institution based on moral grounds, he said. "On the religious argument, you could make the same claim in both directions."

This guy is right, as a religious argument, any state law should be ignored.

it should be up to the individual church as if it were up to an individual home owner.

IF the church allows, an unlicensed person could carry concealed, or open. Just like if a homeowner allowed, his guests could carry concealed or open. IF the church disallowed, the permit wouldn't do you any good, just like if a homeowner says 'no guns in my house' you can't say 'my permit trumps your property rights'

as far as how each church decides, well, that is already down on their by-laws. Some the pastor gets to make the call, some the elders vote, some the congregation votes. This issue is no different than 'do we need a new organ?'

the iron horse
February 15, 2009, 10:53 PM
I'm a Christian and a member of a Baptists church.

I'm free to believe and to carry :)

6_gunner
February 15, 2009, 11:12 PM
Why should churches be any different than any other business? Private business' can post a sign saying no firearms, so why can't a church? Is there some kind of evidence to support that people are at far greater risk of being attackd while in church as opposed to a convenience store?

If the church members want to carry in a church where the leaders don't allow it, they have options. They can go to another church....raise the issue before the congregation and put it to a vote....or carry anyway and pray to God that nobody notices.

TRGRHPY, you are being entirely too reasonable and logical; as well as implying that ordinary citizens are capable of making decisions for themselves. That kind of talk isn't going to get you anywhere. :neener:

In seriousness, excellent post. That pretty much sums up my reasoning as well.

sturmgewehr667
February 15, 2009, 11:14 PM
From the government or jihadists?

what's the difference?

razorback2003
February 16, 2009, 12:37 AM
This article is incorrect about only two non governmental places off limits to those with licenses in Arkansas....bars and churches. There are about TWENTY places off limits in Arkansas!!!! It is absolutely crazy. The license is good for carrying a handgun in your car and going to the grocery store and that's about it...and is extremely expensive. A lot of people in Arkansas don't pay the piper for this garbage and either carry a handgun and risk the fine, claim they are 'hunting', or claim they are on a journey. If you are on a journey, you can be 18 and carry any sort of weapon you want (clubs, blackjacks, switch blades, butterfly knifes), not just a handgun, with no license. You are also generally not limited to the twenty some odd places...you can even carry a handgun on school property when on a journey...or inside a church. You do not have to notify people you are carrying a handgun when on a journey before you go in their houses.

It is my interpretation that at present a pastor or his staff/deacons/elders and the like can carry a handgun in a church in AR with or without a license...just like a business owner can carry without the need of a license.

Arkansas is nice about long guns....can carry them loaded or unloaded...concealed or unconcealed without a license just about anywhere.

EHL
February 16, 2009, 12:38 AM
A church itself is a physical building. It may be sanctified, blessed, or whatever Mormon's do to their temples, but on a basic and earthly level, it is a building.

Mormons don't "sanctify" or "bless" our temples. We "dedicate" them to service. One of our most basic articles of faith is that God won't take away a Bad guy's free agency in commiting a crime, no matter what it might be. So, I, along with many other members, carry concealed both in church and in our temples; so that we can excercize our free agency by putting down any threat that might enter our places of worship.

Prince Yamato
February 16, 2009, 12:54 AM
Mormons don't "sanctify" or "bless" our temples. We "dedicate"

Sorry, my syntax was incorrect, I didn't mean that Mormon's sanctified or blessed their temples, I meant that other churches sanctify or bless their churches and that Mormons did something else (dedicate as you point out). I just couldn't remember the term.

My overall point however was supported by your response. No matter what your denomination, your house of worship proper, is still subject to the same earthly threats as any other building.

Starship1st
February 16, 2009, 07:45 AM
A lot of churches have security with CWC. Churches have been robbed and gunman shoot members for no reason. Does this pastor not remember the incident in Colorado? Were not for an armed security quick response there would have been a lot of dead church members. :cool:

expvideo
February 16, 2009, 10:19 AM
Opponents say worshippers should be allowed to pray without worrying whether the person next to them is armed.
That shouldn't worry them. I always carry, and my priest even blessed my carry gun for me. He also visited me in the hospital when I got shot. He's a great guy.

threefeathers
February 16, 2009, 10:44 AM
What do people not know about the word 'concealed'? I;ve been carrying in church fo 20 years but don't ever talk about it.

bikerdoc
February 16, 2009, 11:09 AM
3 feathers got it right. Hush! I know on sunday morning there are enough weapons in my church to take over a small country.

VegasGeorge
February 16, 2009, 11:31 AM
""I believe it would disturb the sanctity and tranquility of church" said Pastor John Phillips, a bill opponent ...."

Wait a minute. Does this guy know what he's talking about?

"Sanctity" either means "holiness," or "inviolability." I don't see how the presence of a concealed firearm carried by a worshiper effects either. Is he saying that the presence of a gun would somehow desecrate the site of the church? If so, his attitude is one of such invidious prejudice that it simply lacks merit.

hankdatank1362
February 16, 2009, 11:44 AM
Wasn't it a LAW in several states, years ago, that the male head of household bringing the family to curch was REQUIRED to be armed, to protect form Indian attacks or something?

EHL
February 16, 2009, 12:45 PM
Were not for an armed security quick response there would have been a lot of dead church members.

Actually, the lady who shot the perp wasn't "armed security" as the media reported. She was simply one of several members that volunteered to carry her CW as a precaution for the safety of all. The way the story was spun, it made it seem like a couple of mall cops were on duty at the church when in reality it was just a determined lady that was armed and willing to fight to defend others. I applaud this women's resolve, along with her fellow members that agreed to carry their weapons, for stepping up and saving lives from a lunatic.
Honestly, I think too many people, even in my own religion, feel "safe" or "protected" from outside evil. They feel that evil could never enter inside. I believe that even the ancient Jews had armed Temple Guards posted in and out of the ancient Temple of Solomon. I hope that somebody in every church will advocate the case for members carrying concealed in churches. Lives will be saved.

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