by Alberta Parish
There was a time when churches were greatly esteemed as “houses of refuge” where one could go and feel safe from the reckless violence often perpetuated on the city block. As recent news of deadly shootings in churches have stained the pristine image of the Christian faith, we are now faced with the question of whether preachers should carry firearms into the pulpit or put their faith in the very God they preach about on Sunday mornings for protection against evil. After all, how can a preacher who brings a firearm into the pulpit have any credibility in persuading his congregation that God is real and is a protector of His people if he does not believe that God can protect him from danger?
It is more common to hear about deadly church shootings than it is to hear about charitable deeds done by the clergy. Often, rhetoric concerning gays, lesbians and transgenders are great subjects of conversation among churchgoers. However, what you don’t hear about are the consequences of ungodlike behavior that occur inside some churches such as preachers sleeping with a member’s spouse. According to the Detroit News, “A man, who police say attacked a pastor with a brick at a church service before the pastor whipped out his Glock handgun and fatally fired back, ranted weeks before on Facebook that his pastor had gotten his wife pregnant” (Hunter, Dickson, and Williams 1). As a representative of Christ’s teachings, the pastor is alleged to have abused his authority and betrayed a fellow member. If the pastor had never carried a firearm into the pulpit, his victim would still be alive today. The pastor could’ve easily retreated and called 911. Instead, the pastor allowed his emotions to overtake his moral judgment.
Recent church shootings, most notably the shooting at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. where a white man opened fire during Bible study on June 17, reignited the national debate on whether preachers should carry firearms into the church (Chuck 2). But when is violence ever truly been justified in the church? When has violence ever put an end to racism and white supremacy? Furthermore, how can a preacher talk about God’s existence when he does not believe that God is real enough to protect Him from danger? One of the many Bible stories that preachers often talk about is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who were delivered from the fiery furnace after disobeying the commandment of King Nebuchadnezzar to bow down before his image and worship it. The story beautifully illustrates God’s protection and deliverance of His people. However, some preachers do not practice what they preach to others. Some murder when God commanded them not to kill. Then justify the deed by claiming self-defense. Under no circumstances should a preacher ever bring a gun inside the church. If killings occur at church by a preacher, why would people want to listen to that preacher? If a preacher whips out his Glock handgun and shoots a fellow parishioner when he only has a brick in his hand, what does that say about the mentality of the preacher? At a time when Christians are being persecuted and put to death in Islamic countries, church attendance and Christianity in the United States is in decline. When there are acts of violence being perpetuated by a few ungodly preachers, it certainly does nothing to boost one’s confidence in wanting to attend church. Nevertheless, Christians are encouraged to assemble themselves together just as the early Christian Church had regular meetings of fellowship and worship, according to the writings of Luke featured in the Book of Acts, chapter 2, and verse 46.
Some Christian leaders would say that recent church shootings are all the more reason why they should protect their parishioners by having a gun. According to the Huffington Post, “Deb Kluttz, a Protestant evangelical minister from Manhattan, Kan., bought a gun about a year ago and has received user training. Her motto is “prepare for the worst, but pray for the best.” Katherine Bindley of the Huffington Post also wrote “some of the outreach the church offers — counseling for couples with marital troubles and those involved in custody disputes, and helping former sex workers — made Kluttz think about the possible risks to her church community. So when she feels her church’s 550 members might be vulnerable to a violent person, she drops her pistol in her purse and brings it to services.” But there are those who disagree with Kluttz’s stance. Franciscan priest, Paul Williams said “being a member of the clergy, I would think that you would want to set an example and not treat violence with violence.” He further said, “To be a witness may mean that one would have to put oneself in harm’s way” (Bindley 19). However, some churchgoers including preachers have no desire to sacrifice themselves, and will tell you emphatically, “I’m not Jesus.” They would rather shoot first and think about the consequences later. Putting oneself in harm’s way should never be the result of a misdeed such as the one characterized by the Detroit pastor who killed the husband of the woman with whom he was having an affair. Although my pastor has taken a strong position against preachers carrying firearms into the church, her voice is only among the few that openly condemn preachers putting their faith in their guns instead of in God’s protective power.
In conclusion, a preacher who carries a gun into the pulpit has lost credibility as a true representative of Christianity. Some churches once considered as “houses of refuge” have deteriorated into houses of chaos where churchgoers can expect the preacher to be packing a pistol and shoot to kill if necessary. The purpose of attending church is to escape the madness that is blatantly in your face all day long, and to receive positive messages of hope, love and forgiveness through the life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The need for preachers to carry guns into the church only shows a lack of faith in God, and sends a negative message that God is nonexistent and fails to protect His people, which is furthest from the truth. Therefore, preachers should not be permitted to carry firearms into the church, because it is not representative of the principles espoused in Christianity.
Bindley, Katherine. “Guns In Church, The Debate Over Armed Preachers Heats Up.” Huffington
Post. 11 Aug. 2013. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.
Retrieved from Huffington Post, 08/11/13.
Chuck, Elizabeth. “Charleston Church Shooter Dylann Roof ‘Caught Us With Our Eyes Closed’.”
NBC News. 10 Sep. 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.
Retrieved from NBC News, Shooter Caught us with our Eyes Closed.
Hunter, George, James David Dickson, and Candice Williams. “Love triangle probed in Detroit
church shooting.” The Detroit News. 19 Oct. 2015. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.
Retrieved from Detroit News, Pastor kills brick wielding man during Church Service.