Recently, I read a story that the evangelical megachurch Briarwood Presbyterian in Birmingham, Alabama is petitioning the state for its own police department. For a second, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The thought of a church or any other private institution being able to found and govern a police department is really problematic. Can you imagine the power that churches and private institutions would have to enforce their own moral judgments? Would those who don’t pay their tithes get escorted off the premises in handcuffs? While I will stop there, I can think of many more scary scenarios. The article brought me back once again to a firm belief that guns don’t belong in church.
‘No guns in church’ seems like a pretty obvious rule to me. Unfortunately, it is a rule that is not being followed all over the country. While the Briarwood example is extreme, know that there are guns in both liberal and conservative churches all over. In an age when safety is much more important than the actual message of Jesus, churches hire armed security all the time. Don’t believe me? I attend and work out of the Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ, the largest predominately gay and lesbian church in the world. We regularly have armed security patrolling the premises. Many other churches do the exact same thing. I find it incredibly alarming. On more than one occasion, I have walked into church and thought about the possibility of one of my young children dying on the front steps of our church due to the misfire of a weapon. I believe that the potential for such a tragedy is too high a price to pay for a false sense of security.
Can you imagine Jesus preaching with his disciples around him packing handguns for protection? I can’t. If you can’t, I suggest you challenge your church to get the guns off the premises. I am trying.