Bring your gun to church this Sunday... in Louisiana

July 7, 2010

July 7, 2010

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana recently one-upped North Carolina's "open-carry friendly" policies (see recent News & Record Greensboro article "It's a right some want to protect") when he signed into law a new measure that allows people to carry guns with them into houses of worship. The bill allowing parishioners to worship while strapped was first introduced by State Representative Henry Burns [R] and it permits people who have passed a gun training course and the requisite background check to bring concealed weapons with them to "churches, mosques, synagogues or other houses of worship."

This recent development causes me to ask one simple question... What is Governor Jindal thinking? As Henry Ford once said, "Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it." Perhaps Ford's comment could apply in this case to Governor Jindal because I can think of no teaching, in any of the religious traditions of the world, that would ever encourage someone to come before that which of most sacred while carrying a device meant to harm others. Worship and weapons do not go hand-in-hand, period.

Representative Burns argued that "religious institutions in crime-ridden or declining neighborhoods need the added protection to ward off thieves and muggers." How does this gel with Isaiah 2:4 from the Hebrew Bible, which speaks of beating "their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks"? How does this act reconcile with the Buddhist Pali Canon's statement that "the best weapon is wisdom"? How does this new law work in conjunction with Jesus' rebuke of his disciple Peter for trying to live by the sword (John 18:10-11)?

Throughout time, houses of worship have consciously and intentionally been literal places of sanctuary... sacred places a person can go to temporarily suspend the violence of the world. Watch any old western and you'll see some scene where the cowboy is asked to remove is pistols before entering the church. Have times changed so much that nowhere is safe, nowhere is sacred? Without any guns at my side I pray that it hasn't.

For more information on this story please read Jason Linkins' Huffington Post article, "Bobby Jindal Signs 'Guns-In-Church' Bill Into Law" or this Times Picayune online article.
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