Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Guns & Churches

Should vulnerable church communities be protected by armed security guards?

David Gushee reflects on this question in his RNS blog today:

He points out that nearly all synagogues and temples in the US and elsewhere have hired armed protection--and for good reason.

I agree with him that hiring armed security for endangered congregations is better than encouraging church members to carry weapons.  In states that permit open carrying or concealed carrying of guns in public places, some people have been advocating armed congregations--in sharp contrast to how Jesus conducted his life.

It's hard to imagine a Wednesday night Bible study for 20 people or fewer regularly employing security guards--except at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, where I think people might indeed need that protection now to feel safe.

On the other hand, members of that congregation have demonstrated such an unusual attitude of forgiveness toward their attacker that even they might refuse armed protection.

Certainly Jesus would not have wanted armed guards protecting his ministry.  If he were preaching today, would he travel with bodyguards?

I would vote against using guns to protect worshippers if the decision were being made in a congregation where I worship.

At Brentwood Presbyterian Church, where I am a member in Los Angeles, the possibility of an attack is extremely slim.  

Here in Telluride, my pastor in Telluride Christian Fellowship (a multi-ethnic congregation) is an African-American.  

It's conceivable that some nut could decide to come in and shoot for racist reasons, but it's inconceivable that our congregation would ever choose to hire armed security guards.

1 comment:

Gwen g. said...

To hire armed guards appears pretty radical but given the current climate of. racial hatred it seems that it would not be so radical.
It troubles me greatly that this is where we are. We preach the gospel on the inside, while some stand guard with an AK47 on the outside. The question then is the problem resolved? No it has not even been addressed, we have simply placed a dirty bandage over a gaping infected wound.
It seems to me that recent events of the South Carolina massacre should have galvanized every faith community into a real dialogue about their role in helping to heal or coming up with viable solutions in a polorazied racial society, and yet I do not hear the outcry and pressure of these communities saying that we must have real strict legislation for gun control. People prayed for the victims and then silence again. It is a wonder in this modern age of violence, hatred, bigotry ,sexism we would still have organized religion where people meet in a building to worship their God, and hold right to those ideologies that continue to do so much harm.
For those of us labeled as unchurched, non religious, the incidents in South Carolina does not make us feel we desire to embrace the churched or religious community at all. It makes us feel that even though we feel a spiritual disconnect perhaps we are more connected than we think when we have to contemplate being a part of a discussion about needing armed protection in order take part of vulnerable church communities for spiritual enrichment.

May God heal an aching world who choose to do very little to recognize the inherent worth of every soul regardless of race, creed, sex, religion etc.