Eugene Cho

‘bring a gun to church’ sunday?


I’m really tempted to do this at Quest. Imagine all the good press we’ll get. NOT.

Is there any other country with such a love affair with guns?  Anyone? I understand the historical roots of the United States and the past necessity of protection and bearing arms but the story below is ridunkulous.

The pastor makes some valid points about the right to bear arms..but why create a church event around it?

Whether you are for or against to bear arms, what do you think?

Pastor Invites Gunholders to Carry Arms to Church Event

[original link] A Pentecostal church in Kentucky is planning to host an event later this month to celebrate a constitutional right that most would expect a church to not even address, let alone advocate – namely, the right to bear arms.

On June 27, the weekend before the Fourth of July, New Bethel in Louisville will be holding its Open Carry Celebration and has encouraged “responsible handgun owners” to attend the service openly wearing their sidearm – unloaded and in a secure holster.

“There will be patriotic music and short presentation concerning responsible gun ownership and 2nd Amendment rights,” the Assemblies of God church stated in their announcement of the event.

“There will also be a raffle to win a handgun,” event organizers added. “All that is asked is that you bring a sidearm, a friend who has a sidearm and a canned good for local food bank.”

Though support for bearing arms may sound like support for violence to most believers, Ken Pagano, pastor of New Bethel Church stresses that firearms can be evil but also be useful.

“We’re just trying to promote responsible gun ownership and gun safety,” he told The Associated Press.

Furthermore, as born-again Christian gunholder Mark Rogers maintains, the bearing of arms by responsible gun owners can bring a greater sense of security to individuals and to society.

“I want to be part of what makes criminals wonder if the next person they choose to assault may be the one that ends their life,” he states as a reason for carrying a concealed weapon.

“The more law abiding citizens that are armed, the less sure criminals can be of the outcome of their actions against us.”

Rogers also claims that the Bible does not call believers to pacifism in protecting themselves and their families from the criminals of this world and that it’s “foolish” to believe that the nation’s civil governments have the ability to protect law-abiding citizens from the “sub human predators” of society.

“I choose to take responsibility for my and my family’s safety,” he states in his website on Christian gun ownership. “Police generally arrive at a crime scene after the criminals are long gone and the devastation to citizen victims is already done.”

Not surprising, the idea of Christians and guns doesn’t sit well with a number of believers who say Jesus would be against guns and the idea of harming others – even criminals.

“Even if I were perfectly comfortable with open-carry handguns or gun rights, it seems to me a completely whole other thing to connect those rights to Jesus Christ,” the Rev. Jerry Cappel, president of the Kentuckiana Interfaith Community, told the local Courier-Journal.

Tying in the event “with one who explicitly called us to put down the sword and pick up the cross and love our enemies and turn the other cheek, it just makes no sense,” he added.

Pagano and his church, however, have received the blessing of local officials from their denomination as well as the Kentucky Council of Churches.

While many, understandably, may have issues with guns, the officials backed the upcoming church event as it promotes responsible gun ownership while also raising funds for charitable causes in the community.

Though it’s not yet known how many will attend the event at New Bethel, the church itself has 125 to 150 members.

The event will start at 5 p.m. on June 27 with a picnic.

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31 Responses

  1. Gary says:

    We’re just trying to promote responsible gun ownership and gun safety…

    What happened to promoting Jesus?

  2. Jenny says:

    That picture is too funny.

  3. This doesn’t really read, “love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you,” does it?


    and i thought 4th of July at church services with all their allegiance songs and celebration of conquering other humans songs were bad enough!

    i’m so disgusted.

    maybe they can have an invited guest talk about the context of the 2nd amendment—you know, back before we had a military and were empowered to defend ourselves against the British in the night. We’ve got the most powerful military in the world, and I’m pretty sure the British aren’t coming in the night.

    And Wow. The children. I’m feeling sad for the children. How dangerous. And how sad to think you must be properly cared for by someone with a gun. Or that we ever have “good enough” or “ends justifies the means” reasons to kill. So, so sad.

    Teaching kids this kind of logic is so, so dangerous to their minds, nevermind their sweet little lives.

    God help us.

  4. fergie says:

    I don’t believe it would be a terrible misquote to say

    those that live by the gun shall die by the gun,

    but in fairness, one could also so,

    he who doesn’t have a gun should go get one.

    I guess I’m ambivalent about it… but i agree with the first commenter about the reason for church. Jesus or Guns?

  5. Boy – nothing about this sounds like a good idea.
    (Let alone the fact that I have problems with followers of Jesus putting their hope, protection and security in a gun.)
    Wonder why they’re asking people to bring their guns unloaded?
    Seems like if having “responsible gun owners” is a good idea – it shouldn’t matter if they’re loaded or not.
    Not a fan of this at all.

  6. TK says:

    Chaplains in the US Military do not bear arms by law….I am not sure if the support of idea of justice by supporting responsible gun handing can put some crack on preaching the mercy and grace for civilian laws of gun usage…Doesn’t God love criminals and die for thier sin as well? Self defense is one thing but the photo of sisters carrying guns makes oxymoran, paradoxical statement to the Gospel.

  7. DC says:

    “I want to be part of what makes criminals wonder if the next person they choose to assault may be the one that ends their life,” he states as a reason for carrying a concealed weapon.

    Huh??? This from a “born-again” believer. You would think he would be more concerned with whether the criminal could be born-again rather than dead-forever.


  8. fergie says:

    I’m curious to see how many commenters here have actually lived in the south?

  9. dmowen says:

    On the surface it seems pretty silly and unrelated to the church i.e. what does celebrating second amendment rights have to do with Christianity? On the other hand I suppose it could be seen as engaging with the local culture, along the lines of a knitting club or something like that. I’m pretty sure my church in College Station, TX had a men’s ministry/outdoor ministry or something like that that went on hunting trips. I haven’t read up on it enough to see if they’re trying to be overtly political or just reflecting the interests of their community.

  10. Andy M says:

    @fergie, I live in Oklahoma. Honestly I’m not at all surprised at this news mainly because it is happening in Kentucky.

    What disturbs me is the “sub-human” statement. When anybody finds a reason to label another person as sub-human we are then justified in any action against that person because hey, they aren’t even human. It is easy to justify murder or senseless violence against those whom we don’t even believe are human. That is the root of at least most of the genocides that I know of.

    I did a study a few years back, not an extensive one by any means but educational, and I read that statistically you have more of a chance of having a family member shot by keeping a gun than of protecting your family from criminals. Mostly that has to do with poor gun safety on the part of the owners. I know one guy who was involved with an accident with a gun that killed his brother while they were playing at home alone when they were kids. That kind of accident happens way too often.

    I personally think that people should have the right to keep firearms if they wish. My opinion is that guns are amoral, they are neither evil nor good, they are just a tool that can be misused. I have many friends who like to hunt, (though I also know some people who nearly think that that is evil), and I rather enjoy a little bit of shooting at a firing range, and I see no harm in that. But sadly guns are used for so much evil in the world that at the very least for that church to create an event that essentially worships at the altar of the mighty Gun, is just idolatrous and dangerous.

  11. elderj says:

    I wonder if the responses here would be quite as strong if a church has a “right to vote” Sunday and talked about the responsibility of being an informed and engaged citizen as we exercise the franchise? Of course every Sunday churches express the freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and right to free speech. Constitutional government was a revolutionary innovation, and included in ours is the right to keep and bear arms. Should the church not be involved in helping its people discern how to live within the society? Isn’t that what God’s people are called to do?

  12. Tyler says:

    hoping to win the raffle…..

  13. @Fergie: Louisville, KY is my hometown, and I’ve lived in other Southern communities as well.

    @Elderj: I’ve seen churches do the Right to Vote Sunday, which is legit. You can get in trouble with the gov’t if you promote a particular candidate.

    I am more neutral on the issue of the right to bear arms, but I don’t see the benefit of mixing it up with church. Agree w/ previous posters.

  14. Steven Kim says:

    Could this be the Christian version of the Muslim extremists?

  15. Rebecca says:

    Honestly, my biggest problem with this article is the quote from a “born-again Christian gunholder” calling criminals “sub-human predators”. That attitude seems a greater threat than supporting the right to bear arms.

  16. DK says:

    I agree with bmowen’s comment:
    we have bowling, softball, bball leagues and promote them as a means of engaging the local community and culture and promoting fellowship… quest has a cafe, art walls, reading groups, etc… and these are not the direct result of a specific teaching of Christ unless you consider that the church is also meant to bring the gospel to the people in ways that speak relevantly to them. So many posters on here are so quick to cast judgement, yet i see so few sound arguments explaining why this churches actions are specifically sinful…

    1. they are reaching out to the community – if this event brought in more nonbelievers to hear the gospel… and it is NOT sinful, what exactly is more important than having these people hear the gospel?

    2. people seem to conveniently leave out what they do promote, if you come:
    – bring a friend
    – bring a canned good for a local bank…

    It’s fascinating to me how the only people group the media is politically allowed to insult – are Christians…

    the only people group that christians are politically correctly allowed to insult are conservative christians…

  17. me says:

    @DK- thanks for your comment. good pushback and points.

    so, as long a church reaches out to community and brings in non-believers, (and is NOT sinful) – anything goes?

  18. .elise.anne. says:

    Dr. Soong-Chan Rah and the Next Evangelical says (my memory/paraphrase of course)…If we as Christians are to live by the Scriptures and not our culture….look in the Bible. I have yet to find one passage that speaks to the right to bear arms. I am not saying that I dont support that right, but I am saying it is not found in Scripture. And yet I find at least 100 references that Christians are to care for the foreigner as if he is a brother. But when you go to your average mainstream American church, how many NRA members will you find, and how many members of immigration reform causes will you find?


  19. ryan says:

    I’d hate to be the guy counting the offering in the back by himself during the sermon…though I guess he’ll probably be packing. It reminds me of the Georgia preacher during the revolutionary war who was pro-British and kept two loaded pistols in the pulpit with him while he preached so he could return fire…true story.

    Seems to me that this is more a political statement than a well thought out way to express worship in a church service. Why not offer a free gun safety course during the week? Why not do a gun donation drive for folks who’ve inherited guns but don’t use them. Heck, take the youth group to the shooting range. I’m sure there are already people in church with concealed weapons permits that bring them every Sunday, but to feature it for a service?

    On the idea of this just being another example of how we mix constitutional rights already in church…the 4th amendment addresses unreasonable search and seizures – would this church offer free courses on how to protect yourself against illegal searches and seizures? How about the 8th amendment and what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment for those in jail? Is that Sunday coming up?

  20. > “There will also be a raffle to win a handgun,” event organizers added. “All that is asked is that you bring a sidearm, a friend who has a sidearm and a canned good for local food bank.”

    That’s pretty neat – you’re asked to bring a friend who carries a gun but isn’t particularly interested in church.

    I can understand how folks who weren’t raised around guns might equate them with violence. But there’s a huge chunk of america that was raised with guns by people who were raised with guns, etc. So for the folks at this church this “bring your gun to church day” might as well be “ride your horse to church day”. It’s a celebration that allows the church to more fully engage with the culture around it.

    But I agree with a couple other commenters here that the “sub-human” line is deeply troubling. If you had to kill someone to protect your family that’s a tragic necessity but the person must be respected and mourned. There’s no room for denying them their humanity.

  21. Steven Kim says:

    Actually, when I first read the headlines I thought this church was advocating getting rid of guns – meaning to encourage gun owners to give up guns and embrace one of the biblical principles as becoming “peacemakers” vis a vis Dr. Luther King, Jrs. approach to anything adverse in life with peaceful means. Oh well ~~~

  22. Andy Wade says:

    I believe this church also just replaced all its pew Bibles with The Patriot’s Bible, no?

    Of course if, as a Christian, you justify war and participation in the military, the death penalty, etc., then there is really no justification for criticizing this church for “Bring a Gun to Church Sunday”, it’s all part of the same theological package.

  23. Terry T says:

    Okay, well I can’t let this one go. My blood pressure is peaking and I need to “release”. If I sound a little sarcastic, well I am, I apologize now if that offends and ask your forgiveness but please read to the end.

    .elise.annne – be careful your political/personal biases are showing. you stated we are to live by the Bible not culutre and there is no passage about the right to bear arms in scripture. Hmmmmm. Did you write that post/comment on a scripture approved computer / internet? Did I mention the absolute evil available through both? Did you use scripture sanctioned electricity and fossil fuel?

    Andy – obviously you hold to a theological package that is opposed to war, military service, etc. Hmmm, so I also assume that you would not want believers to vote, participate in government in any form. To not be in law enforcement, though firefighters might be okay, wait that is government. You see biblically we/you have a problem – what about Cornelius (Acts 10)? A centurion, a military commander and Peter didn’t require him to leave the military. What about Romans 13 and the government being God’s instrument of justice on earth and remember that the government Paul spoke of had only the military as a police force?

    Come on folks – think biblically, not culturally or politically. Look we can’t use our political left or right brains we must use “transformed minds” to think with.
    What is the different in what these folks are doing than the “30 day / 2 week Sex Challenge pastors? The Slum Dog Millionaire Easter Service folks?

    I have a novel idea, why don’t we stop with the creative “one-upmanship” and focus on the Gospel? We’ve all heard about it, you know the Great Commission? Look who cares if a person is politically / socially left, right or center, Republican, Democrat, Independent – are they right with God?

    For the record, I own several guns (but not an NRA member), am currently and for the last 25 years a member us the US Military, tend to be politically conservative but question at times the use of the death penalty (no do overs as my daughter says) but all of that means nothing, NOTHING when it comes to the Gospel, when it comes to telling others the Good News that there is redemption in Christ, that their sins can be forgiven.

    We focus on objectives in the military – what is ours as believers? Pretty simply I think:
    1. Preach the Gospel / Make Disciples (Great Commission)
    2. Teaching them to obey all that Christ Commanded (Great Commandment)
    a. Love The Lord with all heart, mind soul and strength
    b. Love their Neighbors as themselves

  24. Andy M says:

    For one, elise was pointing out the mis-glorification of guns that happens when a church acts as if the right to bear arms is a spiritual battle and not just a political issue. No church is having an event celebrating and glorifying their right to have a computer or electricity, or even technology, so your argument against her is baseless. This event glorifies guns as a biblical right or even mandate, and there is no biblical basis for that. Come on, let’s think biblically, as you said.

    Your also putting words into my mouth. My belief in non-violence does not equate to anarchy. Read up on it, I promise it doesn’t. Historically, non-violent movements are not meant just to over-throw existing governments for the purpose of having no government, but rather to either reform existing government or replace government with good government.

    And while I haven’t got this completely figured out, there is a difference between military and police types of forces. Military is for the purpose of waging war, and war is for the purpose of intimidating or slaughtering the “enemy” until they give up. Policing is for the purpose of keeping people safe, taking harsh action only at times of greatest threat. I struggle with this because of the violence often involved, but policing I would say is necessary, war on the other hand is not. Policing also does not have anywhere near the amount of casualities that war does. There are civilian casualty estimates for the Iraq war of around 100,000 Iraqi deaths. Even with our advanced technology meant to avoid as many civilian deaths as possible, how is that acceptable? Even if it is a quarter of that much how is it acceptable? You might have an argument that could defend war if civilian casualties were almost non-existent, but that is not even close to being the case.

    As far as it goes about Cornelius, Paul did not require him to leave the military, true. First, that possibly would have been a death sentence for Cornelius, as the Roman military was incredibly harsh and he could have been seen as a defector or traitor, and so Paul would not make it a requirement for the safety of Cornelius, we can only speculate. Second, but do you think that Cornelius would have to rethink his role in the military in light of the truth of Jesus? You can disagree and that is fine, but for me, I cannot justify war in light of Jesus’ teachings of loving enemies. If you are shooting at someone, you aren’t loving them are you? What Cornelius did after that we don’t know, but I can’t help but feel that he did things differently than his fellow non-christian soldiers.

    You speak of the Gospel as if it is separate from your work in the military. I can’t disagree more. Your list of objectives, how many of those do you do for your enemies? Your “neighbors” includes those whom our soldiers have been shooting at. How many enemies have you being sharing the Gospel with lately? You cannot separate your work from the Gospel. They are intimately connected, and military work does not build bridges between us and our enemies, it destroys them. How do you make sense of that with Jesus’ command to love our enemies?

    Your statement about Romans 13 makes an assumption. Yes, God does put government in place in the nations of our world in order to keep order and to pursue justice, but it doesn’t take much to see that all nations tend to be corrupt and often evil in their actions. Your assumption is that because a government is put in place by God, that it is acting in line with God’s intentions somehow, and so a military is what God wants to exist. I disagree. God has only put government in place, in order to create some form of order, in order to avoid chaos. But that is not what he wants for us. God does not want us to have a military, or make war against other nations. God wants peace, and Jesus said that peacemakers are blessed. The governments of the world have a role, but their role is not to bring in the kingdom, that is the church’s role.

    So I will speak out against the excesses of the military, the excess of violence against the enemies whom Jesus challenged us to love, the excess of violence against those innocent people caught in the middle, the excess of money spent on war machines that could have fed and sheltered millions of people around the world, I will speak out against that as a Christian, because speaking out against the injustices of the world are just as much a part of the Gospel as telling them about Jesus in words.

    How’s your blood pressure?

  25. […] 9, 2009 in Culture, religion | Tags: church, Guns, Jesus I saw this article through Eugene Cho’s […]

  26. DF says:

    “but why create a church event around it?”

    One word: Pandering.

    Regardless of your stance on the Second Ammendment, you have to admit that bringing an *unloaded* gun to church is a bit silly.

    That would be like going on a missionary trip with your Bible cover, but no bible inside. “See? I have my Bible cover: I support Bibles; but don’t ask me to quote you any scripture…”

    I find it highly ironic that Pastor Pagano trusts his parishoners with guns, but doesn’t trust them with the ammunition to make those firearms effective–all the while proclaiming a pro Second Ammendment stance If the US government did the same thing on a larger scale, by outlawing civilian ownership of ammunition, such an action would be viewed (and rightly so) as a direct assault upon the Second Ammendment.

    So, spirituality aside, how is Pastor Pagano’s “Pass the guns, but hold the ammo” day really a celebration of RKBA?

    Sure, the pro gun people can bring their firearms. But to make the anti-gun crowd happy, they won’t have access to ammunition: cheerfully rendering those same pro gun advocates impotent. It’s an attempt to make both sides happy–and I don’t see how it works for either camp.

    In my opinion, this is a case of a half-baked political agenda clumsily invading the sanctuary.

    P.S. Eugune: If you ever change your mind and decide to throw a “bring your unloaded guns to church” day, don’t forget to have your security staff check for bayonets too. Wouldn’t want to poke someone’s eye out :p

  27. Andy Wade says:

    Amen Andy M! Very well put. I would as a missionary and pastor add that, if we interpret the core of “Preach the Gospel” to mean “tell them about Jesus and his saving work on the cross” (which i agree with but believe there’s a whole lot more to the gospel of Christ), then every non-believer we kill in war or on death row is a person we’ve stolen the opportunity to turn and be saved. Have we become God?

    Then there’s the even more difficult situation of believers who are fighting on the “enemies” side. Sure, that’s not as likely in the current war we’re involved in – but historically it’s been an issue! Do we war and kill our brothers and sisters in Christ because we’ve aligned ourselves with a political entity – swearing an oath to uphold its laws and policies above all else? Have we, in swearing such an oath, already compromised our faith and our baptismal oath to follow Christ in all of life no matter the cost? Can we really serve (swear allegiance to) both man and God?

    Yes, I appreciate the freedom and quality of life that we have in the United States. But these freedoms do not replace our call to be disciples of Christ above all else. True freedom is found in Christ. True freedom was obtained through God’s sacrifice on the cross not through any war of government. What we have in the US is the privilege to not be persecuted for the freedom we have in Jesus.

    But if you look at the growth of the church around the world you soon discover that it’s growing fastest in countries with persecution! I have, in fact, spoken with believers in other countries who are praying for persecution to come to the church in the US so that we begin to realign our lives to the true core of the gospel. Perhaps these freedoms we war over, and our access to cheap oil and other natural resources, has created a spiritual bondage of the American church. Perhaps we’ve become the Pharisees and it’s time to listen to the prophets speaking to us from the 2/3 world who are suffering under our policies of war, excess, and exportation of implements of war.

    “Take up your cross and follow me daily”, Jesus said. The cross is not in the shape of a gun.

  28. .elise.anne. says:

    what a marvelous conversation!

  29. erick says:

    It’s puzzling what we choose to be okay with as Christians. I love Soong-Chan’s quote about living Scripturally, thanks for bringing that to the conversation elise.anne. Sometimes it feels like Christians are more proud of being American than they are of being Christian – It can be hard to live according to Scripture, it’s challenging, no doubt, but it is intended to be. Living according to our rights as Americans is easy…I think we can all be challenged by this to think about and respond to how we are living according to the Bible, I know I am.

    Lastly, we ought to be responsible with our rights as citizens. I know that this church is claiming to promote “responsible gun ownership” but hand guns are not for meant for hunting…Hand guns scare me because of their intent and I do not think it is responsible on our part to justify blood for blood – As followers of Christ we choose not to believe in such a destructive equation.

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You can do it, sun. Break through the clouds. I love her. Saturday morning date at Pike Market with @minheejcho. Enjoying the final day of sun before 6 months of rain and gray. Not lol'ing. Some of my moat memorable travels have been to Myanmar (otherwise known as Burma). In fact, the vision of @onedayswages began on my first visit to this country in 2006. On a recent visit, I began learning about the Rohingya people. Sadly, it has escalated to horrendous, genocidal proportions.

Thus far, about 500,000 people have been driven out from Myanmar through violence...with most going to Bangledesh...regulated to a massive refugee camp. Stateless. Undocumented. Minority groups. Dehumanized. Homes and villages destroyed. And so much more unspeakable atrocities.

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