Some Augusta religious groups oppose Georgia's new gun law

  • Follow Your Faith

Many places of worship in the Augusta area will not allow firearms to be brought on premises even though Georgia law allows a wide expansion of the state’s gun laws beginning July 1, according to their leaders.

Some religious groups, however, told The Augusta Chronicle that they are leaving the decision to allow or restrict guns use up to individual churches.

Dubbed the “guns everywhere” legislation by opponents, House Bill 60 passed on the final day of this year’s legislative session and expands where Georgians may legally carry firearms, including schools, bars and government buildings. Gov. Nathan Deal signed the 2014 Safe Carry Protection Act into law last month.

The new law expressly permits licensed concealed-weapons holders to take firearms into churches, provided an individual place of worship allows it. The legislation reduces the penalty for licensed gun holders caught in off-limits sanctuaries to a $100 fine.

“Each church will make that decision for themself,” said Dwayne Boudreaux, the director of missions for the Augusta Association of Baptist Churches. “We as an association of 56 churches and five missions have no collective plan of action. … Following the law is of utmost importance.”

The association is not the only group to take such an approach to the new law. The Northeast Georgia Presbytery, which includes Augusta, has not taken an official action or position on the bill, nor has any of its more than 100 ministers and roughly 55 churches asked for clarity in reaction to the law.
The Rev. Joe Berry, the stated clerk for the presbytery, said more information might be provided at a meeting next week. He said the presbytery currently does not have a policy prohibiting weapons at churches but said the congregation assumes its parishioners know not to take firearms to church.

“I would be opposed to people bringing firearms into places of worship,” Berry said. “It seems to me that the use of firearms is the use of deadly force, and I am unaware of any particular threat that would require people to use deadly force. Right now, if there is some type of incident of a perilous nature in a worship service at a sanctuary or church, you can call 911 and get the police out there who are trained to handle the matter.”

Berry is among more than 200 religious leaders in Georgia who have opposed the measure, including Catholic Archbishop Wilton Gregory. The Diocese of Savannah, which includes Augusta churches, will join the Archdiocese of Atlanta to formulate a policy before July 1 to restrict guns in Catholic institutions to law enforcement officials, said Barbara King, the director of communications.

The Augusta District of the United Methodist Church already has passed a resolution declaring each of its churches a “weapon-free zone” in accordance with the facilities’ “traditional role as a place of safety and sanctuary.”
Terry Fleming, the Augusta District superintendent, said the north Georgia annual conference has affirmed the resolution, and for years opposed legislation that would allow concealed weapons in houses of worship for anyone other than law enforcement officers.

The resolution quoted Isaiah 2:4, stating: “God will judge between the nations and settle disputes of mighty nations. Then, they will beat their swords into iron plows and spears into pruning tools. Nation will not take up sword against nation; they will no longer learn how to make war.”

The Islamic Society of Augusta plans to put signs inside and around its mosque and community center for its congregation to know it will also be a weapon-free zone, said President Taufiq Lakhany.

“We will honor the law and respect it, but within places of prayer, we will restrict and not allow any concealed weapons to be brought on the premises,” Lakhany said. “If they have (a weapon), they can leave it locked in their car.”

Lakhany said the Islamic Society has never had any problems with gun use, but because the law has been passed and brought into the public eye, the society is informing the congregation of its position.

“To bear arms, it’s a right, but bringing weapons into places of worship, where people come for prayer, you leave everything else behind,” he said.

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itsanotherday1
43006
Points
itsanotherday1 05/12/14 - 05:45 pm
9
1
What's the big deal?

All the congregation has to do is say "no guns." Same with businesses, school boards, etc. The law just allows those places to ALLOW it if they wish. Previously they couldn't.

Casting_Fool
1133
Points
Casting_Fool 05/12/14 - 09:17 pm
9
6
They need to keep in mind

They need to keep in mind that they're doing three things by creating gun-free zones in their churches.

1. It's a clear advertisement to a mentally disturbed individual or individuals that a particular church is a safe place to kill people as no one will be able to shoot back.

2. They're contributing to a flagrant violation of the Second Amendment of the Constitution. Legally carrying citizens, whether Christian or not, are not the problem. Only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. Which goes back to #1.

3. Believers who are responsible citizens, who believe in the Second Amendment, and legally carry a weapon, may decide to attend a church that allows people to follow the law and carry when attending church.

I dread the first fruits of these ill advised and foolish decisions. IMHO, someone, or many, may die because these ministers are subverting the Scriptures to support their personal preferences.

(... and if you haven't guessed, I don't believe in blindly following anyone, especially preachers. According to Hebrews, it's voluntary submission, not involuntary.)

bdouglas
5008
Points
bdouglas 05/12/14 - 10:11 pm
2
2
@Casting_Fool

It's probably not my wisest decision, but I'd like to know how "these ministers are subverting the Scriptures to support their personal preferences"? Are you telling me the Bible has something to say about weapons in church? Or are you basing that on scriptures that say to submit to authority? Either way, your last comment about submission being voluntary seems to contradict that if I'm reading you right.

Casting_Fool
1133
Points
Casting_Fool 05/12/14 - 10:15 pm
7
2
I have to add, they just

I have to add, they just declared to nut cases that it's open season on Catholics in Atlanta, Augusta and Savannah. If it says Catholic on the church sign, it's a gun-free zone. "Shooters welcome and unopposed!" (That's called sarcasm, friends.)

Oh, looks like that includes Methodists, too. And the Islamic society of Augusta... what are they thinking? There are nuts on both ends of the political spectrum, and you want them to know that you're unarmed?

IMHO, I think that they're all going to wake up when the revenue starts dropping because people loose interest in churches that care more about crazed shooters than their membership.

Casting_Fool
1133
Points
Casting_Fool 05/12/14 - 11:00 pm
5
2
No where do the Scriptures

No where do the Scriptures negate self-defence, defence of family, or defence of nation. Only when it's persecution for one's faith, because of the testimony of Christ, are we told that we can choose to not fight back, and it is a choice.

(Hebrews 13:17a NIV) "Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority..."

In the original language, this reads something like this: "Having examined their testimony and found it faithful, voluntarily submit to their leadership." In other words, it's conditional. If you find that their lives exemplify Christ in all things, then it's safe and right to choose to voluntarily and conditionally submit to their authority.

But it's a choice. Based on your own evaluation of their testimony. Not blind following.

If they say something wrong, or even stupid, you're not obligated to follow their leadership. It's called personal responsibility, something God is really big on.

Which leads back to banning guns in the church. It's not a business that's owned by anybody, not something that one or more persons can make rules for. You may be my pastor, but you're not my God.

If I believe that bearing arms is a God-given right, which I do, then you're welcome to say that I can't carry in your business, or in "your" church, but I'm also welcome to take my business and faith elsewhere's.

Legally armed citizens are not the problem, armed criminals are. As people who legally carry, we are extremely careful with our weapons, only using them when there is no other choice, and then, only when we can do it with minimal danger to those around us.

I'm fairly certain that a criminal with a gun isn't concerned with the safety of those around him at all.

Casting_Fool
1133
Points
Casting_Fool 05/12/14 - 10:59 pm
7
1
And you may want to keep in

And you may want to keep in mind that it's going to get around which churches ban weapons, and which churches encourage folks to exercise their freedom to legally carry a weapon.

Which one do you think is going to look like a safe target to a crazed shooter? Why do schools attract them?

Pretty sure that it's not going to be the church or school where people respect and treat weapons with care and responsibility. Where they inconspicuously and carefully conceal their weapons, while they exercise their Constitutional right to bear that weapon.

Only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. The police are only minutes away (sometimes longer), but an armed citizen is Johnny on the spot, able to respond in seconds.

Personally, I will not stand by helpless when others, my loved ones, or myself are in deadly peril. I choose to carry.

bdouglas
5008
Points
bdouglas 05/12/14 - 11:13 pm
3
2
I don't disagree with your

I don't disagree with your reasoning on why legal guns should be allowed. But the way you stated as fact that pastors who choose not to allow it are subverting scripture is something I take issue with. A pastor is charged with the well-being of his 'flock', which includes protecting them. If it is his feeling that what he is doing is the best way of protecting his flock, then he is certainly well within his responsibilities (and the realm of scripture) to do so. At the same time, anyone in his flock is free to go if they don't agree. But he is not subverting scripture whether or not he decides to allow legally carried guns into the church house. And for what it's worth, I'm an SC CWP holder myself, and I DO agree that churches should allow legal carry.

Casting_Fool
1133
Points
Casting_Fool 05/13/14 - 12:56 am
3
2
It's just that spiritually

It's just that spiritually it's not a pastor's responsibility to decide that people should not be allowed to carry in "his/her" church. It's not "their" church, it's God's, and specifically, the building's not the church at all, the members are the church.

There isn't a Scripture that says a pastor can dictate civil law obedience to the congregation. He (for clarity, I'm using "he") has no civil authority according to Scriptures, only spiritual.

Yes, we are admonished to obey civil authorities (by an apostle, not a pastor), so it would follow, I would think, that the only thing a pastor can do is make sure that if members of his congregation are going to carry, then they'd better be in compliance with the law and have a permit. There's nothing there that says he can ban any legal civil thing.

If he says "no guns", he's using his spiritual authority to enforce a civil restriction on his congregation's civil liberties. Not his domain. Not his call. He's there as a spiritual leader, not a civil authority.

So, if I understand this correctly, if a pastor tries to justify a ban on legally carrying in "his" church, he's enforcing civil law in a spiritual context with no Scriptural support.

It's just not there in the Scriptures. In 47 years as a believer, I've not seen one verse in the Scriptures that says that I abdicate my responsibilities as a father to protect and guard my family from harm when I meet with other believers. That I turn all that responsibility over to a pastor. It's my responsibility, not his. At least that's how I see it. YMMV

karradur
2854
Points
karradur 05/13/14 - 06:06 am
2
8
@Casting_Fool

"I believe that bearing arms is a God-given right."

That's funny, I don't remember Jesus and Satan having a gun duel in the Bible.

nocnoc
42500
Points
nocnoc 05/13/14 - 07:25 am
5
1
LET ME REWRITE THE HEADLINE

MOST

Augusta religious groups DO NOT Oppose Georgia's new gun law

deestafford
27550
Points
deestafford 05/13/14 - 08:13 am
3
2
Yep. Beat your swords into plowshares and your...

Yep. Beat your swords into plowshares and your enemies will come and use the plowshare to cut your head off because you have no sword.

rugerguy
216
Points
rugerguy 05/13/14 - 08:35 am
4
0
Idiocy

It always amazes me that people think someone who has lost their mind and has decided to kill people without any reason will obey a law forbidding them to bear arms. It also amazes me that people think we are somehow "safer" by depriving us of the right to defend ourselves.

Once again the leadership of the United Methodist Church (of which I have been a member all my life) disappoints me by overly concerning themselves with a non-spiritual topic.

corgimom
32266
Points
corgimom 05/13/14 - 08:51 am
3
4
I've attended church for all

I've attended church for all of my life, and I have yet to encounter a mentally ill person shooting people in a church.

I just thank God that I'm not so paranoid that I think that I'm going to be shot anywhere and everywhere I go. What a way to live your life.

People are in far more danger getting killed in a car accident going or coming from the church, but you don't see people flipping out about that.

Marinerman1
4841
Points
Marinerman1 05/13/14 - 08:51 am
4
1
I'm With You

I'm with you, 'rugerguy'. Have been attending a Methodist church for many years now. All of the religious factions that have taken it upon themselves to ban concealed carry, had better have a deep pockets. If a hostile act should occur in a sanctuary, which has happened in the past, and parishioners are hurt or killed, I can now see grounds for a lawsuit. In the past, I would have never even THOUGHT about carrying, but I agree with above, you have now put targets on the sanctuary doors for someone who, of course, is not going to follow the "rule".

corgimom
32266
Points
corgimom 05/13/14 - 08:55 am
3
2
There is this idea that

There is this idea that mentally ill people choose a place where nobody is armed. And that simply is not true.

Mentally ill people, by definition, are not rational. They don't pick these places "because nobody is armed", they pick places that have meaning to their warped, twisted, very ill mind.

They pick places where they can kill a lot of people, because they want to be "infamous". They don't care if somebody has a gun and can shoot them, because in the vast majority of cases, they wind up shooting themselves.

bdouglas
5008
Points
bdouglas 05/13/14 - 09:07 am
3
2
@Casting_Fool

You said: "It's just that spiritually it's not a pastor's responsibility to decide that people should not be allowed to carry in "his/her" church. It's not "their" church, it's God's, and specifically, the building's not the church at all, the members are the church."

I never said *his* church, I said *church house*. Big difference. Again, it's your opinion that the pastor can't make these decisions. You're certainly entitled to that opinion. I'm not arguing with you on ANY of your other points, just the one you stated as fact that a pastor is subverting scripture by deciding to disallow legally carried weapons in the church house. I agree with your other points, just not that one. And you've yet to provide anything more than your opinion as to why this would be the case. I personally feel like it's not our place (as the Church...pastor, congregant, deacon, lay person, etc) to meddle in the right to bear arms since it has nothing to do with anything of eternal significance.

slowrider
179
Points
slowrider 05/13/14 - 09:23 am
2
0
Is there a scriptural reference to take up arms?

Before his capture, Christ spoke with his disciples:

He (Christ) said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That’s enough!” he replied.

—Gospel of Luke 22:36-38, NIV

rugerguy
216
Points
rugerguy 05/13/14 - 09:27 am
3
2
Get real Corgimom

With the right circumstances you COULD be a victim anywhere, in church, in your car, or in your home. It is not paranoia to claim the right to protect yourself and your family. It is sad and unfortunate but it is facing realism and getting a proper grasp of what our society has become. Sometimes good people do bad things, but rarely do bad people do good things. Trusting your life with bad people is naive and criminally foolish. But it is your life and you have the right to risk it if you wish.

foxsilong
762
Points
foxsilong 05/13/14 - 09:28 am
2
1
"It's a clear advertisement to a mentally disturbed individual"

.... Remember shooting at a military base in Texas? Think about how many were armed there?

foxsilong
762
Points
foxsilong 05/13/14 - 09:31 am
2
2
trigger-happy psychos killing pityself

Yeah I have to go with Corgimom.
Of course you can carry gun to protect yourself. But can you pull you gun out before this psycho start shooting? and can you accurately shoot this psycho and not hit someone else?

If you ended up killing the psycho cuze you're a great shooter, GOOD JOB! you just save the shooter a bullet for himself.

Also, killing anyone even for self-defense is never a good feeling.
Ask all those people who served in wars.

deestafford
27550
Points
deestafford 05/13/14 - 09:47 am
3
2
Refusing to allow or carry a concealed weapon because..

Refusing to allow or carry a concealed weapon because there has never been a need seen for it before is like saying, "I'm not going to wear my seat belt because I'm not going to be in a wreck today."

Casting_Fool
1133
Points
Casting_Fool 05/13/14 - 09:49 am
2
2
If you look at churches as

If you look at churches as businesses, which they are, certainly the business owner can put up a no guns allowed sign, it's their right.

But churches were never intended to be businesses, we invented that so we could make churches a revenue producing entity, providing financing for church ministries and for paying the employees.

As slowrider ponted out, Christ himself believed in and encouraged self-defence. When He jumped on Peter's case about attacking the servant (without cause), I believe that the "live by the sword, die by the sword" thing was more "Peter! Put that thing away before you get yourself killed!" than a doctrine that we don't see supported anywhere else in Scripture.

I just have issues with pastors taking liberties with their leadership and dictating to their parishioners what they can and cannot do. That's what we have the Scriptures for.

Whether it's the Pope in Rome, or the tens of thousands of little popes (pastors) in all of the other churches, I don't trust fallible men who take it upon themselves to add to or subtract from the authority of the Scriptures. Just my own opinion.

... and corgimom! FACTS! We need facts! Just because someone's crazy doesn't mean that they're also stupid. They pick no gun zones because they'll get the maximum carnage for their buck. Probably why we don't see very many shooters walking into an NRA or Georgia Carry rally and opening fire, not healthy.

Casting_Fool
1133
Points
Casting_Fool 05/13/14 - 09:58 am
2
0
Bdouglas, maybe I should have

Bdouglas, maybe I should have said exceeding his authority as pastor? I guess that I see that as an unScriptural act, but I do understand your position.

IMHO, we tend to give our pastors too much authority, beyond what they should be exercising in their role as shepherds. Then, when they fail or fall, we're shocked, surprised and hurt. Our focus and obedience should be focused on Christ and the Father, not men.

karradur
2854
Points
karradur 05/13/14 - 10:33 am
1
1
In Casting_Fool's defense...

...Jesus was kind of schizo about violence in the Gospels.

Matthew 10:34
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword."

Matthew 26:52
Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword."

Make up your mind, dude.

GiantsAllDay
9580
Points
GiantsAllDay 05/13/14 - 10:59 am
0
3
I like this article because

I like this article because it covers 2 of the 3 issues most important to Georgians. God, guns and gays. Now if they had only passed a law that say guns are allowed at churches but only during a gay wedding, all the heads in Georgia would explode.

Bizkit
31329
Points
Bizkit 05/13/14 - 11:16 am
0
0
Christ talks about fire and a

Christ talks about fire and a sword-both metaphors of the ideological divide (not violence) his message will bring-which upon inspection of comments and other evidence is absolutely true.
"I have come to cast fire upon the Earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father* against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. (Luke 12:49–53)
I can say that divide holds in my extended family-as most are atheist. I also lost one of my long time dearest friends (an atheist) upon my conversion to Christianity. He hated that an educated man and long time atheist could suddenly convert, and became very nasty towards me-attacking me.
An ideological divide.

Sweet son
10391
Points
Sweet son 05/13/14 - 11:37 am
5
0
Just get a small handgun and carry it in your pocket or purse

and don't say a word. No one will be the wiser and if you happen to use it to diffuse a situation they will all be proud that you did in fact have your weapon.

I've carried a concealed weapon for years and nobody knows it!

revmomdmhs
6
Points
revmomdmhs 05/13/14 - 12:17 pm
0
3
Saddened, but not surprised

As a United Methodist clergy person I am saddened but not surprised that there is so little understanding of what is "spiritual," or even what is Christian or Biblical. How can people even think of carrying weapons into a place of worship when Jesus' words are so plain: "You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5: 38-48). These are not suggestions, they are commands. They may go against human inclinations, but that is why the way is called narrow.

jaymai
389
Points
jaymai 05/13/14 - 12:25 pm
1
0
I think the intent of the

I think the intent of the "guns -everywhere" law is not so much about church members being able to defend themselves against outlaws in the congregation. I would hope most people don't feel threatened while in their houses of worship. But if someone goes to church and decides they want to go to the mall or a restaurant or park afterwards, they don't have to go home and get their weapon. I remember the tragic incident at restaurant in Texas in 1991 where a gunman killed over 20 people, and a lady had left her gun in her car so as not to violate the states' concealed handgun law. Wondering if it's okay to have your weapon here or there is just one less thing law-abiding citizens need to worry about.

bdouglas
5008
Points
bdouglas 05/13/14 - 12:35 pm
6
0
@Sweet Son

That's pretty much how I feel about it. And now that the fine is a max of $100, I don't think you'd have any trouble raising support to pay it if it saved someone from harm...

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