Guns in Churches, some pragmatic concerns

AdminArchbishop Paul's Reflections3 Comments

When I reflect on the idea of people having permits to carry concealed weapons in church, the following thoughts come to mind.

  • While people may be well trained in using a fire arm, the question remains as to what if someone enters a church and begins to fire openly on parishioners, thereby prompting one who has a firearm to use it to prevent the attacker from killing more people? I think the intensity of such a situation is great. Adrenalin may flow as the need to act is immediate. Reality has “come home,” so to speak. The “what if” is no longer, begging a further question — what happens if, out of a sincere desire to protect innocent people, one ends up missing the attacker and instead strikes the innocent person that one was attempting to protect?
  • I have heard that in Russian and Serbian Orthodox churches overseas there are occasions in which military personnel have guarded churches with guns. I also understand the guards are posted outside — rather than inside — the church. By “inside” here I mean the sanctuary, the temple, the “holy space” that has been dedicated and consecrated solely to the worship of God. The issue for me here is that the Church is the place of worship., the place that is set aside for this and no other purpose, and cannot be compromised. When I say “set aside,” I mean not resorting to a fallen view of the world and letting that compromise the worship and its space. This is the point I was trying to make last week.

I realize how difficult it is in our time to discuss such matters. Just this morning, I read a story relating how at least 147 Kenyan college students who were Christians had been targeted and slain by Islamic terrorists. I can understand how some may not agree with the thoughts I have shared, and I am sure there are people who sincerely believe the best way to keep churches safe is to allow “trained people” to carry concealed weapons. But from what does that thought proceed? It is not easy trying to come to a middle ground here.

O Lord illumine our hearts, guide and help us to bear witness to Your Gospel message that we proclaim during these 40 days of Pascha. “Christ is risen!”

With love in Christ,

The unworthy, +Paul

3 Comments on “Guns in Churches, some pragmatic concerns”

  1. Greetings your Grace,

    Just stopped by share a thought:

    A criminal has no problem carrying a gun into a church, school, or any place that guns are not permitted and taking the lives of others. Criminals purposely seek out these kinds of locations to prey on victims and cause the most damage. Holy spaces are disregarded by criminals. Parishioners that are trained professionals, served in the armed forces, or serve on the police force should be permitted to protect that holy space and save innocent lives – to preserve life. When we speak of pro-life rights, at what point do we stop protecting those lives and give it to chance? Are we testing God by choosing not to protect ourselves and others (in cases of those with special training)? If those with special training decided not to use their skill set and protect others, but died as a result along with several others, is that a noble death or a foolish one?

    To take one life in order to save a hundred innocent men, women, and children seems like the lesser of two evils principle. Take for example Rahab the Harlot that defied the order of Jericho’s king or when Jacob’s mother encouraged him to lie to his father. Sometimes the lesser evil is necessary. The purpose of using a gun (or anyone with a moral compass) is always to protect the innocent and only to kill when absolutely necessary.

  2. One more thought that I forgot to include above. The person protecting the innocent victims with a gun distracts the criminal and lays down (gives) his/her life for others. The U.S. military is trained to protect their brothers/sisters in the field – not “go shoot the bad guys.”

  3. Jen
    Thank you for your notes expressing your thoughts on this subject. I regret that I have done a poor job of expressing my reasoning for this issue so that you could understand it. I don’t believe guns used by professionals can protect holy space. Doing the lesser two evils does not protect holy space it only brings the fallen world into that holy space and compromises it. Instead of trusting in the Cross as the “weapon of peace” as the kontakion says, we turn to something else instead.

    If you want to further speak via phone contact me at the diocesan office 312-202-0420. Hours are M to Th 10 AM to 4 PM, if not there leave a message and I will call you back. Take care +Paul

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