Friday, June 05, 2009

Bring Your Gun to Church

This is so absurd it's fantastic. From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

A [Louisville area Assemblies of God] church is sponsoring an "Open Carry Church Service" in late June, encouraging people to wear unloaded guns in their holsters, enter a raffle to win a free handgun, hear patriotic music and listen to talks by operators of gun stores and firing ranges.

Pastor Ken Pagano of New Bethel Church said the first-time event is "basically trying to think a little bit outside the box" to promote "responsible gun ownership and 2nd Amendment rights." . . .

"It's just a celebration we're doing to coincide with Fourth of July," he said. "There are people who own firearms and do so responsibly and enjoy them as a sport, maybe like golfing or bowling."

Personally, I bristle at the idea of holding a worship service to coincide with the Fourth of July, regardless of whether guns are involved. (On a related note, see Greg Boyd's critique of Thomas Nelson's American Patriot's Bible.) That said, I give the church some credit for holding this service on a Saturday so that it won't "be confused with regular Sunday worship." And I have no problem with a congregation addressing the issue of gun ownership and use—a Sunday school series or Bible study that challenges Christians to think theologically about firearms would be totally appropriate. But bringing guns into the sanctuary is just bizarre. According to the article, the idea for the service came about in response to (thus far unfounded) fears that President Obama would place restrictions on firearms. I'm not convinced that these fears are a good reason to celebrate guns in church.

But, instead of picking on this one church in Louisville (as I have just done), those of us who are critical of gun raffles in church should look at our own congregations and reflect on whether our worship services include similarly inappropriate celebrations.


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