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.