Should we start taking our guns with us to church?

The Family Research Council and the Liberty Institute cite 600 recent hostile attacks on people of faith. A black news service asks if worshipers need to arm themselves. And Wisconsin Sikhs mourn their dead.

BY: Rob Kerby, Senior Editor

 

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a Legion official. The atheists said they were offended by this declaration by Ken Governor, the American Legion’s Legislative Commission Chairman:

Jason Torpy

“Activists aim to distort and twist the core values of patriotism, morality and religion that gave birth to our nation, under God," said Governor. "They aim to kick God out of our public squares.

“The nation’s cultural, moral and patriotic values have been under attack for decades, a disheartening trend that continues today. Prayer has been removed from schools. The U.S. flag is no longer protected from desecration.

“References to God on U.S. currency, in the Pledge of Allegiance and on public monuments have been challenged by a minority of voices whose vision for America is far different than that of our founding fathers.”

So, asked Torpy, how dare the Legion commission chairman make such offensive and hateful statements? Torpy advised that such talk about God drives away new American Legion members.

Such hostility to faith is growing, said the Family Research Council and Liberty Institute on the website presenting their report: “The Survey of Religious Hostility in America is a collection of more than 600 cases, detailing religious bigotry throughout America – most of which have occurred within the past 10 years. We invite you to view this powerful document that offers stunning insight into the attacks against people of faith across our nation, and we ask you to stand with us as we continue the important work of defending our most precious liberty – our freedom of religion.

“Hostility against religious liberty has reached an all-time high, and the attacks are increasing at an unprecedented rate. America’s First Liberty – the freedom of religion –  is being pushed out of public life, our schools, and even our churches.”

Angela Hildenbrand

For example, notes the website: “Angela Hildenbrand, valedictorian of her class at Medina Valley High, wanted to say a prayer during her graduation ceremony. A fellow student from an agnostic family filed a suit to prevent Hildenbrand from praying. The federal district court judge issued an order prohibiting Hildenbrand from using words like “Lord,” “in Jesus’ name,” and “amen.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed the ruling and allowed the prayer. On June 6, 2011, Hildenbrand gave her speech, which included a prayer.”

The study was released as the Family Research Council’s security guard, Leonardo R. Johnson, continued to recover in the hospital after an armed man entered the group’s Washington, D.C., office last Wednesday, took a gun out of his backpack, told Johnson “I don’t like your politics,” and opened fire, shooting Johnson.

The wounded FRC guard wrestled the gunman to the ground, held him until help arrived and was later praised as a “hero” by District of Columbia Police Chief Cathy Lanier for preventing the shooter from entering the FRC offices and wounding or killing anyone else.

Cuccinelli

So, is it time to start taking firearms to church? In April 2011, Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli ruled that carrying a firearm for self-protection in a church or place of worship is permissible under Virginia law. He was responding to a state legislator’s request to explain a state law which bars firearms in places of worship “without good and sufficient reason” Cuccinelli ruled that “carrying a weapon for personal protection constitutes a good and sufficient reason.”

“Guns are allowed in churches in twenty states as part of their ‘Right to Carry’ laws,” writes Susannah Griffee for the New Yorker magazine. “Versions of them have been enacted in more than forty states.

“In the 1920s and 1930s, many states adopted laws that prohibited the unlicensed concealed carrying of a gun. Vermont is the only state that did not adopt any statutes prohibiting or regulating the concealed carry of guns, and has no specific prohibition against carrying guns in churches.”

In Thomaston, Georgia, the Rev. Jonathan Wilkins told Adelle M. Banks, reporting in USA Today, that his congregation should have the right to carry guns into worship services to protect the congregation.

“Wilkins’ Baptist Tabernacle and a Georgia gun-rights association are challenging a new state law that prohibits weapons in houses of worship,” she noted. “Recently, state legislatures in Georgia, Michigan and Louisiana have been caught in the crossfire of the debate between gun rights and gun control as they consider allowing weapons in houses of worship.

“Though gun-rights proponents think they have both the First and Second Amendments on their side, they also cite the rights of religious organizations as property owners. Opponents, meanwhile, worry that having weapons in worship is part of a slippery slope to permitting them everywhere.

Shortly after Georgia specifically banned guns in church, Louisiana

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