Catholic, Episcopal Leaders Oppose Georgia’s New Gun Law Allowing Congregants to Pack Heat

02 May

I hadn’t heard about this law:

Leaders from the Catholic and Episcopal churches have condemned a law passed earlier this year that allows licensed gun owners in Georgia to arm themselves in schools, restaurants, government buildings and churches.

Despite the new law, which Governor Nathan Deal signed on April 24, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta said he intends to keep congregants from bringing firearms into the church.

“Churches and other places of worship are intended to be sanctuaries, holy sites where people come to pray and to worship God,” Gregory wrote in the May 1 issue of the Georgia Bulletin, a newspaper of the Atlanta archdiocese.

“Before this legislation takes effect in July, I will officially restrict the presence of weapons in our Catholic institutions, except for those carried by the people that civic authorities have designated and trained to protect and guard us, and those who are duly authorized law and military officials,” he continued.

Gregory said that he regrets the law “more than I can possibly express,” and that the “last thing” Georgia needs is “more firearms in public places, especially in those places frequented by children and the vulnerable.”

The Archbishop’s frustrations were echoed by Diocese of Georgia Bishop Scott Benhase, who along with his colleague Diocese of Atlanta Bishop Rob Wright, sent letters to Deal in April, condemning the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014.

Benhase argued that police should be exclusively allowed to carry guns.

“Firearms of any kind have no place in any of our church buildings,” said Benhase.

“If I am requested by a congregation to grant them permission, as the law provides but does not require, I will not grant such permission. In my judgment, the only people who are appropriately allowed to carry firearms in any of our church buildings are law enforcement officers who are on duty at the time,” he continued.

More than 200 faith leaders protested the passage of the bill in March, which allows “opt-in” and “opt-out” clauses for churches and bars, and also permits school districts to “appoint staff carrying firearms.”

Thank goodness there’s an option to opt out; I agree with the Archbishop and Bishops. The House of the Lord is no place for weaponry; if security is an issue, churches should lock their sanctuaries during services; install metal detectors, whatever. And since a church is not a public space in the same sense that a government office or city street is, the government really should not be legislating either way in this matter, in my opinion.


Posted by on May 2, 2014 in America, Brave New World Order


10 responses to “Catholic, Episcopal Leaders Oppose Georgia’s New Gun Law Allowing Congregants to Pack Heat

  1. maxsnafu

    May 2, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    “…Lock their sanctuaries during services…”??? What if the place catches fire?

  2. Will S.

    May 2, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    I meant so people outside couldn’t get in; not to lock people in to trap them!

    Anyway, I’d leave it up to them – same as whether or not they wish to allow their congregants to be packing heat. I just don’t like the government interfering, acting as if a church is as much a public space as a sidewalk or park or government building. It is not.

  3. RL

    May 2, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Disagree, and I pack heat at church every week (not in Georgia, somewhere it’s perfectly legal). It’s about on a moral level with carrying my car keys and a wallet and a phone, as far as I’m concerned.

    It is regrettable, but most all Episcopal bishops and a lot of Catholic bishops are reflexive leftist tools, and freaking out about guns and pushing gun owners around is a moral status posturing symptom of that. Mustn’t toss out the rainbow sash people expressing their rebellion against Christian morals, but people lawfully and peaceably armed for self-defense? Begone into outer darkness, ye fundies! You probably believe all that “God spake these words” stuff, too!

    Overstatement, obviously, but the point is I agree the government ought to just butt out. In my state, there’s no prohibition on licensees carrying concealed in church, and it’s just not a big deal. Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war and my fingers to fight.

  4. Will S.

    May 2, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    I understand where you’re coming from – I’m no leftist, and have little patience for them. I’m also no pacifist, either, nor anyone afraid of firearms; I have friends and relatives who have or have had firearms, and am not uncomfortable around them. But I don’t like the idea of a sanctuary being somewhere filled with arms. I see that in the Christian Reformed Church (which is not mine, but related), one can find both positions:

    I can see valid points on both sides, but I sympathize with the latter.

    I really wish the government truly would butt out, and not regard houses of worship as public places; they are private property, after all, even if they choose to admit anyone who walks through their doors. And as such, I think it’s bizarre, the notion of codifying it one way or the other in law, alongside similar legislation applying to public places, as if the two were the same, when they are not.

  5. RL

    May 2, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Yep, my reflexive sympathies went the other way, especially after the implicit “Trayvon was just a child walking in his neighborhood afraid of big bad loony George Zimmerman” thing. De gustibus etc.

    I don’t make a big deal about it or go around showing my gun to people. I don’t think the pastor even knows; the bishop definitely doesn’t. I figure folks can’t be nervous about what they don’t know about.

    But in a lot of states, it’s a crime to carry in a church; that’s just crazy. I think you have the right approach — a church is private property and the state should back off and let private property be private. People who are worried that ccw permit holders might be packing and want a criminal law against it ought to be a lot more worried about other people who are going to have guns anyway and don’t follow laws to begin with.

  6. Will S.

    May 2, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    I also agree that it’s crazy for it to be a crime to carry in a church; again, I’d rather leave that up to churches, denominations, federations, etc. to establish for themselves. The state really should butt out; it’s not their fricking business, telling churches one way or another what they either can or can’t do or what they must or mustn’t do… I can even see logic in churches choosing to have different rules for their urban versus their rural congregations; it may not be that a ‘one size fits all’ policy is really ideal. I don’t know.

  7. sfcton

    May 3, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Christ tells us to sell our second cloak and buy a sword. The most effective close range weapon of the time. Seems like an endorsement for armed congregations.

  8. Will S.

    May 3, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    And He also told Peter to put away his sword, after cutting off the high priest’s slave’s ear, and warned him that those who live by the sword will die by the sword.

    Whether or not we can buttress either opinion by a particular Scripture proof-text, I’m not so sure.


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