CREEDE HINSHAW: Why is government trying to dictate church policy?

FAITH: Legislation on guns in churches not state’s responsibility



The Georgia House of Representatives amended Georgia’s gun law earlier this week; if the sloppily written bill is eventually passed in its current form citizens will be able to bear legally registered guns and long arms almost anywhere in the state, including schools, bars and churches,.

I’ll leave the outrage over guns on school property to the Georgia Board of Regents and sensible parents and educators. As far as bourbon and bullets are concerned, it strains credulity to believe there could be any sense in this expansion. When sober hotheads with legally concealed weapons are now killing people for texting in movie theatres or playing rap music at convenience stores why make it legal for people to stand (wobble?) their ground in a crowded bar? A shot glass may soon have more than one meaning in Georgia.

When it comes to removing churches from the shrinking list of gun-free zones, as offended as I am by the grating, paranoid demands of gun owners to carry their guns anywhere and everywhere they want, I am even more uncomfortable with government telling the church what to do or not do. I hate the idea of guns in church. But because I hate even more the idea of government in church I’ve changed my mind on this one.

Churches, synagogues and mosques are the ones who get to choose in our country. Some ban perfume because of aroma allergies…ban fermented communion juice…ordain women or ban them from ordination…permit clergy to be married or demand they remain single…ordain and marry gay and lesbian people or insist that homosexual practice is a sin and abomination …etc., etc. The church decides, period.

So why does government meddle in a church’s policy over whether its members can carry guns on the premises? Let each church make that call. Again I stress that I unequivocally oppose guns in church but I’m not keen on handling snakes in church, either; nevertheless, I don’t want the government making that call. Come to think of it, carrying a weapon, concealed or otherwise, might be a good idea in a serpent handling church. Each individual church or denomination should decide according to its unique theology or doctrine whether or not to allow gun-loving communicants to exercise their gun-toting, God given, natural born, Second Amendment rights to carry their Glocks before God.

I can begrudgingly support the church amendment in the poorly re-written HB 875 as long as the legislation guarantees that congregations can ban guns on their property, a move I would quickly propose if I were a church pastor if this bill became law.

Realistically, every church member knows that the most dangerous territory in the church is not the church sanctuary anyway. It’s the heated meeting room where the deacons sometimes argue over whether to terminate the pastor, ban traditional worship or tell brides they can no longer wear strapless gowns. It’s the church parking lot where post-meeting arguments continue. Those are places where being wise as serpents sometimes overtakes being gentle as doves, where murderous words could escalate into decidedly deadly consequences under the new proposal. Maybe churches will need to be very selective over which rooms or parking lots or in which official meetings guns will be permissible.

Creede Hinshaw is a retired minister.